Down in Washington Square: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection


“When Steve Turner still lived in Seattle back in the salad days, the Mudhoney guitarist would have me over to look at his record collection and provided lessons on 60’s folk and blues revival. He let me borrow some records for radio shows, help me connect the central figures of the NYC scene, and pretty much opened the door to something I had only limited knowledge on. When he proudly pulled out his Dave Van Ronk LPs, I remember him suggesting that Van Ronk was not only the man of the scene, but he influenced a young Dylan. Matter of fact, he even housed a homeless Dylan in those early years. I had never heard of him, but Steve knew everything (he’s one of handful of people who has greatly influenced my musical taste) and I knew this was a path to follow in terms of folk revival. And even though Van Ronk is not always an easy listen, which is often the case when you get to the root of things, he was a deeply committed folk singer (he liked NOLA jazz and sea shanties too!). His emotional and gruff delivery was proof positive to me that folk music is not meant to be a pretty music. It’s a heavy music about life and death and the songs about those things from a century of singers and players. This folk music of Van Ronk, Odetta, and The New Lost City Ramblers was a serious music consisting of an underground scene of outsiders which ran counter to the more commercial, clean ‘mighty wind’ pretenders of the same time. … His legacy as a singer, guitarist, songwriter, and grand mentor of the folk and blues revivals is collected in this 54-track, 3-disc set featuring 16 previously unreleased recordings. Down in Washington Square: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection, compiled and annotated by Grammy-winning Smithsonian Folkways archivist Jeff Place. The 3-disc set paints a musical mosaic of Van Ronk’s artistry from early live recordings made in 1958 (the year before his first Folkways album) to his final studio recordings in 2001, just months before his death.  … Van Ronk was born in Brooklyn and learned to play ukulele, banjo, and guitar at an early age. His first love was jazz, which alongside Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music had a profound impact on his performing and writing. …”
New Dave Van Ronk Retrospective: ‘Down in Washington Square: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection’
Folk Roots/Folk Branches with Mike Regenstreif
Discogs
amazon, iTunes
YouTube: Down in Washington Square: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection

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