notes by Kenneth S. Goldstein Elektra EKL 151 (US 1958)
Lyrichord LLST 773 (US 1958) [Peter Fritsch's label]
°° re-released on Acrobat ADDCD3253 (UK 2018) "The Dave Van Ronk Collection 1958-62"
notes by Kenneth S. Goldstein Folkways FA 2429 (US 1959)
= Le Chant Du Monde FWX-M 52429 (Fr) "Chants de marins anglais"
= Smithsonian Folkways FA 2429 (CD-R) (US 2007)
Verve Folkways FV/FVS-9017 "Gambler's Blues" liner notes:
A Note From The Singer:
"Not infrequently I am taken to task for the manner in which I approach my material. Being of Northern white origin and stressing Southern Negro songs as I do is, in a way, difficult to justify. I first came into contact with Negro traditional songs through a chance encounter with a recording of 'Stackolee' made by Furry Lewis, a southern street singer about whom little seems to be known. Taking it to be a form of Jazz, in which I was primarily interested and involved, I made some further investigations and discovered a whole field of music which I had not previously known existed. At this point I don't think I had ever heard a white person sing a Negro song (with the exception of my grandmother who remembered some old cakewalk and ragtime songs from the 90's) and so, having only such singers as Furry Lewis, King Solomon Hill, and Leadbelly for models, when I tried to sing these songs I naturally imitated what I heard and, if I couldn't understand a word here or there, I just slurred right along with the singer. At that time, nobody listened to me anyway.
Since then I have learned that the term 'folk music' encompasses more than just 'Blue Tail Fly' and 'On Top of Old Smokey' and that there are quite a few white singers who sing the same material that I do with a very different approach from my own. Although I can appreciate the 'white approach' to Negro folksongs and enjoy the work of many of its adherents, I still reserve the right to sing these songs in the style in which I am accustomed, partly because of habit, and partly, I confess, because I feel that my way is the 'right way.'"
-- Dave Van Ronk
4-pp. booklet including "a note" by Dave Van Ronk plus notes by Kenneth S. Goldstein
original espresso machine cover Folkways FS 3818 (US 5/1959)
note by Dave Van Ronk = Verve Folkways FV/FVS-9017 (US 12/1965) "Gambler's Blues" (mono / stereo)
note by Dave Van Ronk = Folkways FTS 31020 (US 1968) "Black Mountain Blues" "Electronically rechannelled to simulate Stereophonic"
note by Dave Van Ronk = XTRA 1081 (UK 1969) "Black Mountain Blues"
(=) Smithsonian Folkways CD 40041 (US 1991) "The Folkways Years 1959 - 1961
= Folkways CD FS-3818 (US 2007)
180 g LP= DOXY DOY660LP (It 2011)
re-released on Acrobat ADDCD3253 (UK 2018) "The Dave Van Ronk Collection 1958-62"
notes by Kenneth S. Goldstein Folkways FA/FS 3805 (US 1960)
= Folkways CD FW03805 (CD-R 2007)
"The blues are common property. The most recent form, the most vital in contemporary American terms, grew from the suffering of the southern negro in slavery times, his frustrations in the bitter post-Civil War period, the movement first to the big cities, then north. The blues have several easily recognizable forms, 12 bar, 8 bar, etc., but now as the wealth of recorded country blues and songs from the southern prisons are becoming more widely known, the emphasis is shifting from the scholarly insistence on form to what might be called a 'blues approach'.
Dave Van Ronk sings many songs on this record besides songs in the accepted blues form, but with one or two exceptions the blues approach is there."
-- Eric Von Schmidt
notes (4-pp. leaflet) by Eric Von Schmidt Folkways FA 2383 (US 1961) "Van Ronk Sings" (Vol. 2)
also announced as "Van Ronk Sings Earthy Ballads And Blues"
notes by Eric Von Schmidt = Verve Folkways FV-9006 (US 1965) (mono) "Dave Van Ronk Sings The Blues"
notes by Eric Von Schmidt = Verve Folkways FVS 9006 (US 1965) (stereo) "Dave Van Ronk Sings The Blues"
notes by Eric Von Schmidt = Verve Folkways VLP 5007 (UK 1965) "Dave Van Ronk Sings The Blues"
(=) Smithsonian Folkways CD 40041 (US 1991) "The Folkways Years 1959-1961
= Folkways CD FS-3818 (US 2007) "Van Ronk Sings"
180 g LPnotes by Eric Von Schmidt = DOXY DOY661LP (It 2012) "Van Ronk Sings" (Vol. 2)
With this Prestige record, 26 year old Dave Van Ronk establishes himself without qualification as one of the best folk-blues singers in America today. Already a master of a growling, near-shouting way with American ballads and blues, Van Ronk new branches out into the softer shadings of meaning and tasteful use of humor which mark the consumate musician. Few other folk singers today can match this versatility, let alone the raw, driving power shown here to its best advantage. Van Ronk's career has been typical of the burgeoning school of city youngsters who adopt Negro blues and the southern folk idiom for their own. Yet there are basic differences. For one thing, his apprenticeship began not in folk but in New Orleans style jazz. Raised in the brick and asphalt wilds of deepest Brooklyn, Van Ronk early found himself singing with two local bands. But along with those down river sounds he was also discovering the parallel earthiness of old Negro and country blues - discovering it on scratchy records by Blind Boy Fuller, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Furry lewis, and inevitably, Leadbelly. Van Ronk's entry into the folk field was still slow. As a merchant seaman sailing to southern ports he learned more about the blues. Although a flat wallet forced him to other, really incongruous jobs - and God knows, working as an eyedot painter in a Mickey Mouse factory is pretty far out - he kept studying. Five years ago he finally let loose at a Greenwich Village folk concert. Odetta, singing in the same concert, like his gutteral sound so much she urged him to continue with the blues. Singing in coffee houses and colleges he soon found himself with a devoted group of followers - and not a few imitators. Not everyone liked him. Some critics wanted to know what business a Brooklyn lad of Dutch-Irish descent had singing Negro stuff. But tremendous audience response, plus two L.P. records, proved more agreed with his style than not. By 1960 New York Times critic Robert Sheiton was calling him 'one of the best city folk singers in the land'. By last fall however, Van Ronk had decided his approach to the blues was too limited. leaving the folk scene for the winter he began studying new possibilities for working with his classic material. He listened all day long to records by old timers like Mance Lipscomb or the ragtime men. He gave more consideration to voice dynamics, began transposing the intricate contrapunctal ideas of ragtime piano to his big Gibson guitar. When he showed up again this spring he did so with a more restrained but more mature style, its power undiminished but enhanced by new shadings, new warmth of feeling. Today Van Ronk concentrates on the depth of musical possibilities inherent in his material, with his young wife Terri his daily critic. A large, bearded young man who looks like a bear as he amibles around his apartment, he'll grab his guitar for hours to work out some new phrasing. The Van Ronks are also known among Village friends as boss poker players, and hopeless addicts of a whole bookcase of science fiction they refer to as 'mind rot'.
'He Was A Friend of Mine' shows at its best Van Ronk's deep understanding and compassion for the simplest folk material. A lament on a poor friend who died on the road, it has a genuine sense of the injustice of life without failing into the bathos of much contemporary folk music. 'Lazarus', a tremendously moving ballad of the unting down of a Negro, along with the classic 'Sampson and Delilah' seen through southern eyes, both show the singer in top form. As powerful folk myths these songs are done with slow-buildin drama, splendid guitar work, and artistic control. Two more songs - 'Stackalee' and 'Long John' - continue the themes of strife and violence Van Ronk handles so well. 'Stackalee' of course is the famous gun-totin' gambler who challenges the devil for control of hell (to Van Ronk's intricate guitar work). 'Long John', a simpler ballad, tells only of a convict escape from a chain gang. Unlike the singer's earlier versions of these songs in concerts, the present offerings are modified by gentle humor, and a refusal to overdramitize.
Whimsical humor has its place too. In the Liberian song of a man's search for a wife, 'Chicken Is Nice', Van Ronk lets his amusing, pleasantly repetitive material speak for itself. The Negro 'You Been A Good Old Wagon', a sexual reproach to a worn out lover, is similarly dramatized without ostentation. Again, the humerous and almost childlike 'Mister Noah', aided by really noteworthy guitar, gives the album a change of pace that bespeaks versatility.
The personal and intimate come in two more songs. One of them, 'Come Back Baby', has been recorded by so many singers it's become a fixture of the blues. Here it is done with wistful shadings that give the plea a highly lifelike effect. The other, 'Cocaine Blues', is a minor masterpiece of talking and singing. Van Ronk's junkie in his twilight world of fixes, nausea, and inevitable death, has a pathos about him rarely evoked on a record. Three more songs continue the personal touch. 'I'll Be Dead and Gone' gives voice to a man who has seen.enough of life and is ready to die. Yet there is no bitterness,only sad resignation. 'Believe I'rn Fixin' To Die' continues more frenetically this theme as its building crescendo. The classic 'Motherless Chidren' with the same slow, relentless drive, characteizes Van Ronk's unforgettable power."
-- J.R. Goddard
notes by J.R. Goddard Prestige INT 13056 (US 11/1962)
notes by J.R. Goddard Prestige FL 14012 (US 1963) (mono)
= Prestige PR / PRST 7527 (US 1967) (mono/stereo)
(=) Fantasy DLP/CD 24710 (along with Prestige/Folklore 14025 "Inside Dave Van Ronk")
= P-Vine PCD-5144 (Jp 3/1997)
Here is an album which will please jazz and folk fans alike. It combines on one record six examples of the superb jazz singing of Dave Van Ronk with the Red Onion Jazz Band and six fine examples of Dave's folk style. These songs show the unity between jazz and Negro folk songs, both swing and can be improvised on freely. It has been Van Ronk's ambition for a long time to cut some sides with a jazz group and, by the happy choice of Bob Thompson's band, he has fulfilled his desire. At one point early in the Red Onion recording session, Van Ronk said, 'This must be like the early days when jazz was fun'. He had not to belabor the point, the music here speaks vividly the truth of his statement. These sides are infectiously good humored; There is in evidence a rapport between artists that is reminiscent of earlier jazz classics.
Jazz history is replete with examples of jazz band recordings made with female singers (notably the Smiths, and 'Ma' Rainey), but there are comparatively few male vocalists of traditional jazz songs. Louis Armstrong, naturally stands out. 'Jelly Roll' Morton; and contemporaries 'Turk' Murphy, Jack Teagarden, Clancy Hayes and Jimmy Witherspoon are outstanding examples of male singers. Of course six songs are not keys to immortality, but Dave Van Ronk's singing promises a brilliant future as a jazz singer just as the included folk songs present an exciting and maturing folk stylist.
The Red Onion Jazz Band, begun circa 1951, will soon be the longest lived 'revival' band ever. The Onions is the only traditional style band to survive in the East out of the many groups of the 1950's. The 'revival' or traditional style is the reflection of early jazz recordings and music in the mirror of present day technique without losing any affection for the sources -- ragtime, blues, spirituals and some popular songs of the 1920's. Started by Robert L. Thompson, the band has had at various times such respected musicians as Bob Hodes on cornet; Joe Muranyi, clarinet; Charles Sonnastine, trombone and Jirn Heanue, cornet. Originally called by New York born Thompson, The 'Dixieland Foolwarmers', they adopted the name 'Red Onions' while playing an engagement at Jimmy Ryan's old Blue Note. 'Red Onions' had also been the name of both an early New Orleans Band and a Crescent City nitery. Also it is no doubt worthwhile to note that the current R.O.J.B. is one of the biggest bands in jazz history . . . that is, they average close to six feet in height.
The lead horns are played by: John Bucher - cornet, (whose playing is a constant source of pleasure), Denis Brady, who plays both clarinet and soprano-sax and trombonist Dick Dreiwitz, the newest member of the band but who has absorbed fully the spirit of the Onions.
In the rhythm section on banjo is Eric Hassell, who played in his native England with 'Kenny Ball's Jazz Band'. Eric just showbd up one night where the Onion's band was playing about two years ago, sat in and was so good he was invited into the band. Much of the unique sound of the band is attributable to tuba player Steve McKnight who has been with the Onions six or seven years also having played with them trombone, piano, guitar and banjo. At the piano is the highly regarded Hank Ross, a veteran with the group on and off since its' inception. Hank recorded with Bob Helm of the Murphy Band in 1954 and with the 1955 version of the Onion... His playing is consistently tasteful and imaginative as you will hear.
The leader and drummer is Robert L. Thompson who is also an accomplished washboard player (listen to the above mentioned Helm set); a respected record reviewer and essayist (for years he wrote in the Record Changer under his own name and the pseudonym 'Aaron Harris'), he is also an Experimental Physcoinist at Columbia University Medical School. Bob is responsible for most of the arranging of the band's expanding repertoire of over two-hundred tunes. Fortunate to have heard many jazz greats, he says he has been most influenced as a drummer by 'Baby' Dodds, Ben Poilack and Bill Dart while his band reflects sympathetic listening to 'Jelly Roll' Morton, 'King' Oliver, Louis' Hot Five and Seven, the San Francisco 'Revival' Bands, 'Bunk' Johnson and various early white New Orleans recordings. Bob has taken their ideas, arranged them with his own conceptions and created a style all his own. We may even say he comes close to topping them all.
Now with great personal pleasure I write about Dave Van Ronk who is featured on this, his second Prestige Album. I have known Dave since the days when he bugged us with seemingly interminable verses of Frankie and Johnny, Stackolee, Sam Hall and other hoary folk standards. He and we, his friends, were also captived by jazz and at one time, by pooling our records had over 8,000 recorded examples of jazz and folk music. With a background like this, (as good as any city dwellers'), it was inevitable for a talented person like Dave to seek further influences and to evolve his own style. Dave's playing has been influenced by the recordings of such men as 'Leadbelly', Sonny Terry, Furry Lewis, Woody Guthrie and 'Blind Lemon' among others. Dave studied drums for awhile but his natural bent lay towards the guitar which he played in a jazz group he helped from called the 'Brute Force Jazz Band', but although his singing retained jazz shadings his guitar work took an more and more a folk blues style. He moved from Quees into the Village area and met and learned from such as Brownie McGhee and Reverend Gary Davis. He worked hard at playing guitar and was helped and encouraged by the understanding criticism of his wife, Terri. Van Ronk has played all over the country and is friendly with many other folk artists, all of whom recognize in Dave the continuation of the spirit of the blues. Dave's reputation has also been enhanced by his effective and moving guitar technique and his many popular arrangements of standard folk tunes.
He is also at the time of writing working with his own Jug Band as well as performing alone. Van Ronk was a great success at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival and ii.gaining a deservedly large public.
The songs contained in this album reflect the various influences on Dave Van Ronk and Bob Thompson.
The Jazz Band tunes are drawn from traditional sources like the blues and stomps as well as an original by Dave's friend the talented Bob Dylan. The folk background is further enriched by work song and ragtime.
Cake Walking Babies From Home is known best to jazz fans through the Louis Armstrong - Sidney Bechet recording of 1924. Its composition is partly credited to Clarence Williams. This was the first number recorded at the jazz session. It is highly suitable to Dave Van Ronk's singing and also features the soprano-sax breaks of Denis Brady.
Ace In The Hole is played in a good natured music hall style and has been a favorite of West Coast Revival Bands. Van Ronk's singing is exhilarating and the band arrangement delightful. Stave McKnight's tuba is heard to particularly good advantage on this number. (Thus backing up Bob Thompson's idea of a stylistic jazz band sound.)
St. Louis Tickle is credited to two persons named Barney and Seymour and was originally a roustabout tune. Dave plays it here in his own arrangement as a sensitive ragtime number. This is one of the most requested tunes in Van Ronk's repertoire and considering the difficulty in transcribing from piano recording to guitar deservedly so.
Dave Van Ronk has established himself as one of foremost compilers of 'Jury Texts" regarding traditional tunes. (Jury texts are when many verses are sung to one tune, usually with some new words appearing with each subsequent recording.) Here, in Death Letter Blues Van Ronk has arranged some of the most moving verses of this song into a dramatic slow blues.
If I Had To Do It All Over Again, I'd Do it All Over You is the second song by Bob Dylan that Dave has recorded, the other being opposite in mood titled He Was A Friend Of Mine, a standout on Dave's first Prestige Album. This is the first and only take of this song being one of those rare times when band and vocalist inspire each other to great heights. The delight that everyone felt on hearing the playback carried over for the rest of the session. Bob Thompson plays tasteful variations on the drums and Dick Dreiwitz and Hank Ross back up Van Ronk effectively.
Everywhere in New York City the many young guitarists influenced by Dave Van Ronk strive to play his arrangement of Whoa Back Buck. This Huddie Ledbetter song is currently the most popular song rendered by Van Ronk. It is known all over the South as a Negro ploughman's song and is based on an early while fiddlers tune.
Most jazz fans will probably say, 'What, again?' to another recording of Armand J. Piron's Sister Kate, but I feel that this version is merited. Starting with a vocal intro backed by Hank Rosa's piano and showcasing a 'Jelly Roll' Morton arranging speciality which the band calls the 'Jelly Turn Around', this tune swings. It also features a Van Ronk scat vocal break and John Bucher's cornet. John amazed us on every take of this song by constantly varying his break, each one being more exciting than the last. (A break, being when all band members but one are silent for a moment of time.)
Again Van Ronk's taste and arranging ability have brought new listeners to an early classic song. This one being Jim Jackson's Kansas City Blues, this was one of the most popular race recordings of the twenties and is still a favorite of many today. Van Ronk has selected some of the best verses for his recording from the four parts recorded by Jim Jackson.
Green Rocky Road, is a composition by Bob Kaufman and Len Chandler from whom Van Ronk learned it in 1960 at the Commons in Boston. Its background is that it was written from fragments of a New Orleans children's song by poet Kaufman. Dave plays it here in a "D" tuning.
See See Rider, is one of the best blues songs and was written by the 'Queen of Blues singers' Ma Rainey. This arrangement begins with a haunting plaintive verse played by coronet and banjo which then eases into an ensemble chorus and Dave's vocal. Particularly appealing is Dennis Barry's clarinet which sometimes reminds one of the playing of George Lewis or Wally Fawkes yet he exhibits a unique style in his solo chorus.
The work song Rock And Gravel is one of the many songs recorded and saved from obscurity by Alan lomax. It was issued with other selections on a record made by prisoners at Parchman Farm in Mississippi. Van Ronk has learned it from this record and by playing and replaying has given this song his own distinctive treatment.
The final number on this record is a jazz version of Reverend Gary Davis's Hesitation Blues. The song opens with Van Ronk singing a scat intro and closes with a tag ending by Bob Thompson that is designed to show critics exactly where the performers stand in jazz. This is a perfect example of a song which can be played equally well in either a folk or jazz style. Hank Ross's piano solo and Van Ronk's strong vocal are the highlights of this last selection.
The growth of public awareness to the beauty and value of their folk culture is an encouraging sign to artists like Dave Van Ronk. He is helping to make this heritage once again a vital meaningful factor in American life.
-- Daniel Frueh (Aug. 1963)
notes (August 1963) by Daniel Frueh Prestige/Folklore FL 14001 (US 1963)
notes by Daniel Frueh = Prestige PRT-7800 (US 1970)
= P-Vine PCD-5306 (Jp 1997) "More Songs From Coffee House Folkies Series 2"
(=) Fantasy FCD-24772-2 (US 2002) "The Two Sides Of Dave Van Ronk" (along with "Your Basic")
notes by Daniel Frueh= Dol DOL1463 (EU 2014)
notes (Oct. 1963)by Walt Crane Prestige/Folklore 14004(mono)
notes (October 1963) by Walt Crane Prestige/Folklore 14004(stereo)
notes (October 1963) by Walt Crane = Prestige PRST 7727 (US 1970)
= Big Beat WIK 78 (Germany 1988)
°° Prestige PRCD-9902-2 (US 1995) "The Bluesville Years Vol. 2 - The New City Blues"
°°° Prestige PRCD-9915-2 (US 1996) "The Bluesville Years Vol. 7 - Blues Blue, Blues White"
= P-Vine PCD-5141 (Jp 1997) "Coffee House, Folkie Sounds"
4 LP box setnotes (48-pp. booklet) by Robert Shelton Elektra EKL 9001
= EUK 2512/2 (UK 1966)
= Elektra R1 541146 (US 2014) "Record Store Day - 50th Anniversary Edition" (limited to 2000 copies)
notes by Stacey Williams Vanguard VRS-9149 (mono)= VSD-79149 (stereo) (US 1964)
= Fontana TFL.6042 (mono) (US 19??)
= Vanguard SH-114 (stereo) (Jp 1964)
= HMV MCLP 6176
Newport Folk Festival discographyFontana Records discography
notes by Stacey WilliamsVanguard VRS-9145 (mono) (US 5/1964)
notes by Stacey Williams= Vanguard VSD-79145 (stereo) (US 5/1964)
notes by Stacey Williams= Fontana TFL 6037 (stereo) (UK 1964)
4-pp. insert = Vanguard/King SR-660 (Jp 1971)
= Vanguard VSD 79145 (stereo) (US 4/2013) (Record Store Day)
Newport Folk Festival discography
Prestige PR 45-288
Prestige PR 45-297
Mercury MG 20864 (mono) Mercury SR 60864 (stereo)
= Mercury UCCU-9008 (Jp 2003)
= DOL DOL1473 (EU 2014)
Mercury MG 20908 / SR 60908, enclosed leafletphotographer: Robert Brenner
"I met Dave well over six years ago, while I was in college. He was just back from sea and getting started in folk music professionally. There was virtually no way for a young folksinger (we didn't think of singers as performers then) to earn a living, but David felt that he had something to say via his music and his singing. He loved the music, and through it he could express a whole range of emotions and experiences.
At that time he was angry about the state of the world and at people, although deeply committed to a conception of people as being basically good and, given a chance to make their own decisions, able to almost instinctively know what the right choices are. Personally he was insistant that he was going to support himself by doing something he loved -- singing and playing guitar. Musically he was entering what we now call his shouting period. He's got strong vocal chords and was determined to use them.
Back then Dave lived folk music and politics. For over a year there were endless folk music parties, sessions, hoots, discussions, and every small concert was an event. We helped to form a group called the Folksingers' Guild which tried to organize folksingers (but nobody was working so there was nothing to organize for or against), and we produced some good small concerts and ars.
About a year later word filetered in from California that there was work out there. Dave went west for a few months, and he got some unique hospitality on the way. Our friend's car broke down in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where the sherriff decided the best accomadation for two bearded young men was the city jail so he marched them off at gunpoint for the night. But they did reach the coast, where Dave worked steadily and started developing as a performer.
He came back feeling more optimistic about everything -- life, himself. Dave was developing a logical, comprehensive analysis of world politics. I'd always admired the scope of his knowledge, the inciciveness of his mind, and his compassion for people. These were all being applied to a cohesive world outlook, coupled with a totally irreverent sense of humor.
As far as music went, this was the blues guitar stage. I've always liked Lightnin' Hopkins, but after a while his guitar style was coming out of my ears. Luckily Dave passed through that fairly quickly and entered into a phase that's still developing.
He's always loved traditional jazz and played in jazz bands when he was in his teens. We've got a good jazz record collection which we prize along with our baroque. renaissance, and Indian records. This influence really began developing, leading David to concentrate more on singing. He started discovering all kinds of new vocal techniques to make his music more interesting.
This album is representative of much of David's current thinking. It's an amalgam if musical styles and techniques of more current, urban musical forms which Dave hopes will grow to represent out own generation. It's also a very personal statement...the statement of a man who finds people "weird and completely interesting"; who is active in politics because "now we have the capacity to feed every man, woman, and child on earth and then man can start to face his greatest challenge -- himself."; and whose music, interests, and whole approach to life show a fully developed, independent, sometimes exasperatingly principled person.
-- Terri Van Ronk
notes by Terri Van Ronk Mercury MG 20908 (mono)
notes by Terri Van Ronk Mercury SR 60908 (stereo)
= Mercury 704571 (US 2012)(MP3 files)
back cover notes plus 5-pp. foldout booklet by Paul Nelson Elektra EKL-264 (mono) (US 6/1964)
back cover notes plus 5-pp. foldout booklet by Paul Nelson = Elektra EKS-7264 (stereo) (US 6/1964)
(short) back cover notes plus foldout booklet by Paul Nelson = Mode MDEKL 9459 (Fr 1964)
back cover notes plus 5-pp. foldout booklet by Paul Nelson = Elektra EKL-264 (mono) (US 1966 repress)
back cover notes plus 5-pp. foldout booklet by Paul Nelson = Elektra EKS-7264 (stereo) (late 1960s repress)
back cover notes plus 5-pp. foldout booklet by Paul Nelson = Elektra EKS-7264 (stereo) (US 1966 repress)
back cover notes plus 5-pp. foldout booklet by Paul Nelson = Elektra EKS-7264 (stereo) (US 1969 repress)
back cover notes plus 5-pp. foldout booklet by Paul Nelson = Elektra EKS-7264 (stereo) (US 1970s repress)
(abridged) back cover notes by Paul Nelson (no booklet) = Edsel ED248 (UK 1987)
5 CD set (=) Elektra CD 8122795661-2 (EU 2015) "The Greenwich Village Folk Scene"(five original Elektra albums from the 1960s, including "The Blues Project")
notes (January 1964) by John D. Monroe Prestige/Folklore FL 14023 (US 1964)
notes (June 1964) by Dave Van Ronk Prestige/Folklore 14025 (US 10/1964) - trident label in use 1964-1971
notes (June 1964) by Dave Van Ronk = Stateside SL 10153 (UK 1965)
notes (June 1964) by Dave Van Ronk = Prestige 7716 (US 1972)
(=) Fantasy DLP/CD 24710 (along with Prestige FL 14012 "Dave Van Ronk Folksinger")
"Q: Mr. Van Ronk, it seems that every time we do an interview, you have a hangover.Would you care to comment on that?
(Mr. Van Ronk cared to do nothing but look pained.)
Q. Well then, do you have any statement to make about music?
DVR: (brightening almost imperceptibly) I'm glad you asked me that question.
Q: I'm glad you asked me to ask it.
DVR: Last night we went to still another new discotheque with blinking lights and freakout films, and I realized that people require stronger and stronger outside stimuli. People talk about feeling and soul -- and act as if they don't really believe they have any.
It's the new numbness, and it's very scary. The thing is, we are going through an unbelievable technological revolution that is disorienting people intensely. The human race has to deal with some braintwisting things now.
The changes in music are braintwisting too, because technology always determines the forms of music. The bow and arrow HAD to precede the first stringed instruments. The bellow principles HAD to precede the organ. You can't have an organ without smelting, right? You couldn't have a fugue without math. Or math without a concern for who owns how much of what.
The technology behind the space race is fantastic, and it has cultural repurcussions: the science of sound is on its way in. Musical instruments today are being superceded. Today they design sound the way you'd design a building.
I'm not saying it's a bad thing; the first cat that came along and invented the trumpet, I'm sure everybody said, 'Man that thing ain't got no soul -- give me the old conch shell anytime'.
Anyway the main thing isn't soul, it's intelligence. You use intelligence, the soul will take care of itself.
What I'm saying is that a lot of things have happened to music lately. Some people think Robert Johnson sings the blues, but Lester Young or Charlie Parker or Lee Konitz don't. People who think like that are wrong, stupid, and sectarian
The important thing isn't to go from bag to bag and call it progress; the important thing is not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I was singing, 'Goodbye My Coney Island Baby' with a banjo group when I was fourteen years old. It was bad music, but I learned something from it. If you don't retain something from each of your previous stages, you won't grow. All my changes are right there on this record.
Q: Mr. Van Ronk, why don't you sing topical songs?
Q: Do you think pop music has hurt folk music?
DVR: Only when it laughs.
One Meatball -I've only heard it sung by Josh White. The scat singing-- well, let me put it this way. A big chalk blues buff roasted me in an article someplace for singing that song at Newport. He was disturbed because he thought I was getting attention that rightly belonged to Skip James. In the first place I was never aware that I was in competition with Skip James and in the second place Cab Calloway is as much a part of the American heritage as Skip or Booker White. If I sang like Skip, then any attention I got would rightfully belong to Skip. Maybe it should all go to Cab Calloway.
One of These Days That's Dave Woods again. He's back in town-such fun to work with. I copped 'Come Back, Baby' from him eight years ago. About this arrangement: I have the aspirations of a classicist and the instincts of a Gaudi. Above Mose Allison: he's the best songwriter of his type since Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer. I'm not putting them down, but he's funkier.
Song of the Wandering Aengus. Lyrics by W.B. Yeats. I have a very rough voice; I learned a rough voice can convey beauty from Walter Huston's singing 'September Song'. Incidentally, the song has nothing to do witti a lost cow. It deals with an Irish mythology cycle. If you are confused, consult your friendly neighborhood cop.
Keep It Clean is a traditional tune, but I wrote about half of it. I am especially proud of this guitar arrangement. The moral of the story is, V.I.D. cannot be cured.
Zen Koans Gonna Rise Again I wrote this song because I believe you have to write about something you know, and I know something about MacDougal Street. I can't begin to tell you what that street does to me. When I wrote that song I could still get near to it. Now, I'm afraid my personality would disintegrate. Enough time on that street would disintegrate anyone.
Freddie. Mance Lipscomb wrote it. My arrangement. -The drum consists of Dave Woods sitting on the floor beating on a bass drum that says 'Arthur Godfrey and His Friends' with a Coca Cola bottle.. It's something like 'Frankie and Johnny', except the woman gets killed. Turnabout is fair play.
Statesboro Blues. There are two ways you can do a song soniebody's already done: your way or his way. Then there are certain songs that certain artists have done so definitively you can do them his way, or the wrong way. I learned that from Blind Willy McTell. Either I could do it his way or give it up entirely, and I like it too much to give it up entirely.
Midnight Hours Blues. Sparseness is a good thing if you want to be pretty. Silence - a pause - is as important to music as a note. Silence is a part of music. All those nice big fat thirds I got from Leroy Carr. The guitar is as close as I can get to a transcription of his lead piano part.
'Bout A Spoonful. I got it from Gary Davis. I mean I learned it from Gary; I play it Eastern seaboard style of Gary Davis, Blind Boy Fuller and Blind Blake. Not everybody knows what a spoonful means. But they know what a pause means.
Mean World Blues. Mostly my own arrangement, written by an old friend, Niela Horn. She writes very strange stuff. I was working at The Commons - where the Feenjon is now - and by a pure fluke I was put in charge of hiring. Two weeks after I was hired, everyone who'd been there when I'd come had left, and I had seniority. So I hired Niela because it was an opportunity to learn her songs.
Blues Chanti. That's Terri's yell; she's got real soul. I always tell lies about this song: Lie 1. I learned it from a fallen missionary from Uganda who had gone native. Lie 2. I wrote it myself-under the influence of cabbage leaves smoked nasally. Lie 3. It just grew. -The truth is, I learned it from a Dizzy Gillespie record.
The Old Man. The quality of compassion in this song ... The song doesn't moralize-that's what makes it as strong a statement as it is. Just: this happened.
Alabama Song is from 'The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny' by Kurt Weill. This is one of those songs that are very obscure to most people. The more confused a person is by this song, the more likely it is to pertain to him. Why did I pick it? Because I think we're living in the Weimar Republic riglit now. I think Hitler and the Nuremberg Laws are just around the corner. Only our Nuremberg laws will be against the Negroes, not the Jews. Unless we fight against it, it'll certainly happen. This business about the Negro being on the offensive is not true. The Negro's back is to the wall. All this talk about ghetto riots, so-called; there've been riots in this country against the Negro for 400 years, and it's still going on. Frankly, Charlie Brown, I'm scared."
Verve/Forecast FTS-3009 (US 12/1966)
Prestige PR 7539 (US 1967) (mono) - trident label in use 1964-1971
= Prestige PRST 7539 (US 1967) (stereo)
Verve Forecast KF 5070 (US 10/1967)
Billboard November 11, 1967
Verve Forecast KF 5080 (US 2/1968)
Verve/Forecast FT/FTS-3041 (US 4/1968)
= Polydor 2425 048 (1972)
Polydor ML 008
gatefold DLPnotes by Ira Mayer Fantasy DLP 24710 (US 1972) brown labels
gatefold DLPnotes by Ira Mayer = Fantasy DLP 24710 (US 1974) blue labels(US 197?) light blue labels
= Fantasy FCD-24710-2 (US 1989)
DLP Bellaphon/Fantasy BJS 4071 (Germany 1972)
= Bellaphon/Fantasy BBS 2502
"Oh, I do like that phrase. Not only because it captures the collective echo of the album's songs, but also because it provides something of an excuse for me to be writing these lines. For while i know precious little about music in general, or these songs in particular, I do know the singer. I know him well and I have known him long. We met in the summer of 1956. We were ageing children then and we are ageing children now. Most things don't change.
There have been a few changes, of course. In those days the draft ale at the Old Landmine was a dime a glass. Richard Nixon was a retrospectively reassuring heartbeat away from the Presidency. ("Race you up the stairs, Ike!") Nobody knew anybody who admitted to liking any popular songs. Everybody had an elaborate scheme for avoiding the draft; we never realized that the Peacetime Army emphatically did not want us in the first place!
There was singing every Sunday afternoon at Washington Square. For all I know there still is; the greatest measure of change lies in the fact that I do not know one way or the other. I do know the park didn't have a fence around it then.
I don't know if the world was better or worse, although, at the time, I hardly suspected we were then living through our Good Old Days.
I don't think our personal lives were a hell of a lot different. We make more money now, but don't hang onto it any longer. We drink a better grade of whiskey, and it takes a little more to get us off than it used to, but we do our drinking in the same sort of bars.
We have gotten married and unmarried. We have lived a few lines into our faces. The years have made us a little wiser or a little more foolish, and I am not at all certain which. It seems to me that we have fewer answers than we once had, but that may be balanced out by our having forgotten some of the questions.
I find it rather more difficult, albeit more pertinent, to write about Van Ronk as a musician. Since the first time I heard him sing I have been so unabashedly a fan of his that it is embarrassing. I have never been in a mood that I did not want to listen to him.
There is an enormous temptation for any artist in any medium to give a little less than his best. There is considerable security in so doing; when you fail, you can succor yourself with the knowledge that your talent is greater than your imperfect display of it. Most people never even realize they're doing it.
I'm thus very much partial to those artists who always give you the very best they've got, who always put the throttle on the floor. There is an unmistakable quality in their performances, to the point where one could list a few who are not enormously talented to begin with, but whose commitment transcends their lack of talent. When they are also talented, and knowledgable, and aware, and sensitive, they really make it all work.
Seventeen years. We've been to a few of the same schools since then, for whatever good they did us. We have seen one another in every imaginable condition, occasionally even including sobriety. I trust it will properly embarrass David to read that I deem him a gentleman and a scholar in every sense of both words."
- Lawrence Block (1973)
notes by Lawrence Block Chess/Cadet CA 50044
5 LP box setLongines Symphonette Recording Society/Vanguard LONGIN LWS-176-181
Philo 1036 (US 1976)
= Rounder CD PHIL1036 (US 1986)
Fantasy FT 572 (US 1977)= Fantasy F-79009 (US 1979)= Fantasy F-5943 (Fr 1979)DLP Fantasy 0081.101 (Ger 1979)= Fantasy BLS 5579 (Germany 1979)= Fantasy FTSP 57, OC 156-63 176/7 (UK 1979)= Fantasy L 45857/8 (Australia 1979)= Fantasy LDP 1003 (It 1979)= Fantasy FAN 96-10 (Portugal 1979)
= Fantasy FCD-79009-2 (US 1990)= Big Beat CDWIK 103 (UK 1992)
Flying Fish FF-064 (US 1978)
song notes by Dave Van Ronk Philo PH 1065
notes by Elijah Wald; song notes by Dave Van Ronk = Rounder CD PHIL1065 (US 1999) "Someone Else, Not Me"
"We were sitting listening to Rocket 88 in Islington. Jack Bruce (my man on bass), Don Weller, Bob Hall, Danny Adler and the rest were blowing up a storm -- Charlie Watts was off somewhere with some rock band or other. I was listening, and when I'm listening, I don't have room for much expression on my face.
'Whassamatter?' demanded Dave. 'Dontcha like the band?'
'The band is fine', I said. 'But I'm working'.
'Didja ever think of takin' up some other kind of work?' he asked. And his big face creased up in a laugh that almost drowned the band's front line.
Dave Van Ronk goes back almost as long as me on this here folk-blues-rags-and-hollers revival scene, was playing in London when it consisted basically of Alexis Korner, Ewan MacColl, Humphrey Lyttleton and a few acolytes like me, who later turned a hobby into some kind of a nice racket, becoming music critics.
And when I heard that record company red tape was preventing him from recording during his rare visit to London, I talked the best engineer in town into giving up his midnight hours that very day and we recorded this great album, finishing the last take as the whiskey, his bleeding fingers and the night gave out.
I've recorded rock n' rollers in Soho, East Anglian traditional singers in Suffolk, and Cajuns in Louisiana, but none of it has pleased me as much as this album, which I think is really an instant overview of the salty, irrepressible, incorrigable, unique human being who is Your Basic DAVE VAN RONK.
-- Karl Dallas
The Dave Van Ronk London Sessions
by Dave Peabody
Dave Van Ronk had not been in London for 15 years when, at a drop of his brown corduroy hat, he accepted an invitation to be flown across the Atlantic and appear as a surprise guest on "This is Your Life" on TV. The sixteen bars of 'Don't You Leave Me Here" that he got to sing on the programme might have been all we heard from Dave this time round had it not been for the quick intervention of Karl Dallas.
Dave let it be known that he was interested in making a recording for European release while he was here, but the problem was obviously one of time as Dave was only in town for a week. Although certain record companies were interested, the cautious climate that currently prevails in the industry prevented any from making an instant decision. Not wishing to let such an opportunity slip away, Karl contacted Livingstone Studios to find that the only free period available was after 9 PM on the night before Dave was due to fly back to America.
Amazingly, Dave agreed to take the one shot at getting an album down in a single session, a task that would have daunted a man of lesser talents, and so a small congregation gathered on the evening of March 10 at a local public house in preparationfor the night to come.
karl had the foresight to bring a half-bottle of Glenmorangie single malt (a full bottle might well have slowed proceedings) and, as a sensible chaser, a supply of Ruddle's Country Bitter -- excelent choices for a man who doesn't drink alcohol. Nic Kinsey engineered above and way beyond the call of duty and was ably assisted by 'Nicko', who kept the tape rolling and the coffee coming. The Cincinatti Kid, guitarist Danny Adler, and myself, lent moral support while Karl kept a sharp ear attuned to the sounds coming from the studio and generally oversaw the event.
Dave Van Ronk just got his head down and played and sang his heart out.
Working from a list (not necessarily adhered to) in his old black notebook, Dave reshaped, remodelled, and redefined a classic collection of his personal favourite songs. Some Dave had learnt from old records, some from the original singers, and some are his own. All now bear the indelible stamp of the Van Ronk personality.
1. God Bless the Child
The simplicity of the guitar arrangement serves to frame and set off the magnificently expressive vocals. A connection between Dave and Billie Holiday is the way both use the voice as an instrument. The scat chorus could be a Roy Eldridge or a Charlie Shavers taking a solo, and when Dave returns to the words, the nature of his voice has changed so that it sounds as though a band is right there, riffing away in unison.
2. Sunday Street
My favourite of Dave's recent compositions. A logical free-flowing of exploration of word and finger-picking progressions. The song was the title track of the excellent Philo album of the same name. Included here because this really is the basic Dave Van Ronk.
3. In the Midnight Hour
Slow, powerful, faultless, Leroy Carr would have been happy to play piano accompaniment to Dave's expansion of his blues classic.
The rolling guitar work makes this version a close relative of Furry Lewis' 1927 classic, 'Billy Lyons and Stack O' Lee', but here the storyline goes further. Stagolee learns the moral, "When you lose your money, learn to lose," only to use it, after his demise at the hands of the law, to turn the tables on the devil. Ha! The Furry Lewis record was the first black traditional song that Dave ever heard.
5. Sportin' Life Blues
Brownie McGhee has never heeded the advice of his own song, so why should Dave? There is a sincerity in this performance that tells you the singer has lived every word.
6. Cocaine Blues
Pure joy. Philosophical advice spiked with wry humour. Take this song at your own peril.
7. St. James Infirmery (Gambler's Blues)
Down to old Joe's bar room once more, where Dave is familiar with every speck of sawdust on the floor and has looked into the bottom of every one of the chipped glasses. The request for a jazz band on the hearse wagon has the word "jazz" slurred into a whole phrase -- remarkable. Blind Willie McTell continually reworked "St. James Infirmary" into various versions of 'Dying Crap-Shooter's Blues'. Van Ronk carries on the worthy tradition (which began, Karl tells me, in Ireland in 1790).
8. You've Been a Good Old Wagon
If a Billie Holiday is included in a basic Van Ronk collection, then a Bessie Smith must also find a way in. The power and rasp of Bessie's voice is easier to identify in a full-flight Van Ronk vociferation. It's anybody's guess as to which side of the song Dave sympathises with.
10. Gaslight Rag
A personal historical view of a certain Greenwich Village haunt.
Forget all other interpretations of Rev. Gary Davis' rabelaisian hymn: Dave has just redefined it as he has done (and as the Reverend did before him) through many years of performance. Rev. Davis said that the song came out in 1905, so it has stood the test of time exceedingly well. Dave manages to inflect two separate personalities into his vocalising without being over-emphatic, and the scat has Buddy Bolden heading the street parade. The last note reverberates like no other note you've ever heard.
notes by Karl Dallas and Dave Peabody = Sonet SNTF 885 (UK 1982)
= Aural Tradition Records ATR-104 (Ca 1983)
notes by Karl Dallas and Dave Peabody Kicking Mule KM 177 (US 1984)
= Guimbarda GS-11.185 (Spain 1984)
(=) Fantasy FCD-24772-2 (2002) "The Two Sides Of Dave Van Ronk" (along with "In The Tradition")
Fast Folk CooP SE 101 (Vol. 1, #1)
Fast Folk CooP SE 108 (Vol. 1, #8)
Paris Album DKB 3359 (Fr 1983)
= EPM Musique BC157842 (Fr 1996) Statesboro Blues
Folkstudio FK 5017 (It 1983)
= Alcazar CD ALC 120 (Ca 1995) "from ... another time & place"
4 LP box setnotes (20-pp. booklet) by Lenny Kaye Elektra 60381 (stereo) (US 1984)
3 LP setnotes (29-pp. booklet) by Danny Kaye Elektra 60383 (stereo)
Fast Folk FF 106 (Vol. 1, No. 6)
It's no small trick to write about your own songs without seeming to brag or complain. Probably the best way to go about it is to avoid any comment that edges on aesthetics and stick to technical and chronological data, and, of course, the inevitable odd anecdote.
The role of singer-songwriter has never much appealed to me. As Leonard Cohen once told me, the critical faculties develop acuity much more quickly than the ability to write. Very discouraging, especially in the beginning. The only thing to do is to keep at it, knowing that you are no Cole Porter or Wille Dixon, but knowing also that you are no judge of your own material, either. Some of this junk you are grinding out might have some value after all.
Eventually, things start to fall together ... at least I hope so.
Mostly written on a bus trip from Redding to Eureka circa '82. If I hate buses so much, why do I always seem to be on one?
Blood Red Moon
This one was supposed to be a serious, even scary, song a la Robert Johnson. I got a verse or two off in this manner and started to giggle...rewrite time. I guess serious and scary just isn't my long suite.
I wrote this in '68 and recorded it around then, with very unsatisfactory results, in 4/4 time. Here it is in 5/4 (more or less), the way it should be.
I'm not sure when I wrote this. The early '60's, I think. Air raid drills, for God's sake.
An imperialist love song, also a protest against wimpy anti-war songs.
As a sometimes (not at present) guitar teacher, I have been trying to get ragtime fingerpickers away from the current heavy emphasis on transcription from piano arrangements, and into composing rags directly on the guitar. This is my most recent attempt to practice what I preach.
An excuse to use one of the most God-awful puns I've ever come up with.
Written in '69 or '70 while the Gaslight on MacDougal Street was still a going concern. The sheer volume of talent that passed through that place was astounding: Dylan, Paxton, Ochs, Mississippi John Hurt, Buffy Saint-Marie, Bill Cosby, Ian and Sylvia, Lightnin' Hopkins, Wavy Gravy...the list is endless. There was an espirit there that I have never seen before or since. To the people who worked there, the Gaslight was a club in every sense of the word. Not to mention the 6th Precinct, who would have loved to beat us over the head with it.
The result of an all-night shop talk-cum-bull session with Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell, assisted by a good deal of wine and a truly loathsome fluid called Byrh. Next morning I awoke with this beside me, in my handwriting. If Leonard or Joni dictated it to me, they have kept mercifully mum.
Garden State Stomp
If some of these place names seem a bit unlikely, there is a publication called Towns and Municipalities in New Jersey, published by the New Jersey Highway Department. Like Casey Stengel said, 'you could look it up'.
Zen Koans Gonna Rise Again
The hard-drug epidemic in tht in the Village in the mid-sixties. Written partly in the hipster/carny argot then in use thereabouts.
The Whores of San Pedro
Written during a short stint with the Merchant Marines. Any fuller explanation would be longer than the song, and that's a bad policy.
Left Bank Blues
A year or so ago I was stuck in Paris for a week, very low on funds, and needing to keep alive until a tour began and money started to come in. I found a cheap pension on Rue de I'Ancienne Comedie, in the Latin Quarter. A genuine garret, by God: cold, damp and musty, with a bed that looked like a relief map of the Pyranees and was every bit as comfortable. April in Paris! When you tired of rain, you could wait awhile and go out for a stroll in the sleet. Anyway, I wrote this in the garret to keep my fingers from freezing together. The guy who wrote that other song must have been hanging out in Mazatlan.
Another Time and Place
Sometimes a song seems to fall out of the sky and right into your lap. The first three verses of this one came out as if I'd been planning them for years...one draft with almost no revisions, in 45 minutes flat. The last verse took a year. I finally got it together while driving throug Utah with Dave Massengill. Dave was memorizing he had just written by reciting it over and over (silently, he thought) to himself. In sheer self-defense I had to write something."
-- Dave Van Ronk
"Some performances leave you really feeling like you know the artist...like an old drinking buddy or a childhood friend...but Dave Van Ronk? Anybody who can make New Jersey charming and stick a giggle in it, then turn around and write a song like 'Another Time and Place' and sing it with such tenderness and power is far too complicated for me to analyze or comprehend at anything but gut level.
Long ago, a mutual friend of Dave's and mine told me that to call someone your friend you must have visited their home (residence, shelter, tipi, flat, homestead, sod-shanty, hovel, pad, cottage, 1957 Chevy station wagon, penthouse, mansion, chicken coop, hideout, lair, etc., etc). I have called Dave friend through two lairs and many crossed paths...and you may feel familiar with this larger than life folk hero you encounter on the road and on the stage when he takes on life and turns it into the stuff of legend right before your very eyes, but let me describe a room to you in New York City on the human side of 14th Street. You go down a hall, passing a small kitchen that is clearly much in use, to get to it. You first see a number of exotic Zulu-Omoo looking artifacts on the wall...spears...and a six-foot pterodactyl of Polenesian extraction, framed by wall-to-wall books...an oak dining table proportioned appropriately to someone who intends to dine in company..equipment for listening to the tapes and records you also see and an arrangement of couch and chairs that puts everyone in the room face-to-face. If you're lucky, you're invited to dinner...David is a fantastic and inventive cook...next some wine, or maybe the Irish whiskey comes out and he becomes the cosmic DJ...old jazz...Louis Armstrong...Jack Teagarden...Groucho Marx...Bing Crosby...Sam Cooke...Mahagonny (in German with Lotte Lenya)...Balkan Women in Chorus...Russian Men (they sing so low the room vibrates) and if you have the stamina after the food, the wine, the whiskey, the conversation, the laughter, arguments, and politics, you'll get a second wind and start with Vivaldi at four in the morning.
This album is all original material by the man who lives in that room. His writing is potent and finely crafted...his performances are good theater, more like the great European cabaret singers (Bruant, Brel, Piaf, Aznavour) than any American I can think of...his guitar work sounds more and more like a piano and he sings more and more like a horn....hell, when I grow up, I think I'd like to be like Dave Van Ronk."
-- Rosalie Sorrels
notes by Rosalie Sorrels and Dave Van Ronk Reckless RK 1916
= Gazell GPCD 2006 (1991)
= Hightone HCD8192 (US 2006)
Big Beat WIK 71 (Germany 1988)
(=) Big Beat CDWIK 71 (Germany )
notes by Brian Hogg Big Beat WIK 84
Fast Folk FF 405/406 (Vol. 4, No. 5/6)
°° omitted from Flying Fish CD FF 70557!
notes by Roy Bailey (back cover) and John Brazier (12 page booklet) Aural Tradition Records ATR-107 (Ca 1989)
24-pp. booklet with notes by Roy Bailey and John Brazier = Flying Fish CD FF 70557 (US 1990)
Alacazam ALA 1002 (Ca 1989)
Alacazam ALACAZAM1004 (Ca 1990)
Alacazam ALAC-CD 1004 (Ca 1990)
notes by Sam Charters Gazell GPCD 2004
= Gadfly CD 100591 (10/1994)
notes by Sam Charters Vanguard VCD 115/16 (US 1991)
Newport Folk Festival discographyMississippi John Hurt discographyReverend Gary Davis discographyReverend Robert Wilkins discographySkip James discographySleepy John Estes discographyYank Rachell discographyHammie Nixon discographyRobert Pete Williams discographyJesse Fuller discographyJohn P. Hammond discography
notes by Kip Lornell and Dave Van Ronk Smithsonian Folkways CD 40041
The Smithsonian Collection of Recordings.- Sony Music Special Products RD 046-2
CHRES-TO-MA-THY: A selection of choice passages
Gazell GPCD 2007/8
Fast Folk FF 603 (Vol. 6, No. 3)
2 CD setnotes (May 1993) by Mary Katherine Aldin
Vanguard VCD2-77005 (US/Germany 1993)
(=) Vanguard VCD 73133-2 (US 1997) "part one"
(=) Vanguard VCD 73134-2 (US 1997) "part two"
"One of the major problems of the current songwriting renaissance is the dearth of discrimnating interpreters. Except for writers whose material is C & W compatible, it is next to impossible to get someone, anyone, to sing a song he or she didn't personally compose. To make matters worse, the prevailing climate among acoustical performers is very discouraging for interpreters. Not long ago, a singer-songwriter acquaintance of mine remarked of a contemporary (who is, by the way, a fine singer), 'Oh, she only does 'covers'!' (I had a sudden prophetic vision of a CD which will appear in the near future - 'Pavarotti 'Covers' Puccini'.) Record companies and the people who book clubs and concerts share this prejudice, and indeed the situation has become so grotesquely unbalanced that I suspect the pendulum is about to swing back the other way. Let's hope it doesn't swoop over to the opposite extreme where songwriters feel it necessary to fob off their tunes as 'Folk Songs', as did John Jacob Niles and others in the '30s and '40s.
The flip side of this state of affairs is the vast pool of first-rate songs available to any singer with open ears - untouched material (except by its authors) just begging for an intelligent and appreciative reading. Selecting the pieces for this album has been one of the most difficult and frustrating chores I have undertaken since I gave up ballet. Finally, I hit on the notion of only doing songs by people I know. This narrowed the A-list down to a mere 120 songs (no kidding), as well as automatically selecting for me Jane Vass' lovely song for the title song and theme.
Let me hasten to add - not every author represented here is a close personal friend. A few of them I have only met briefly and casually, but it comforted me to think that if I got stuck I could, at least in theory, get on the horn and ask the songwriter, 'What the hell is this line supposed to mean?' Only later did it occur to me that conversely the songwriter could just as easily get on the horn and ask,'What have you done to my song, schmuck?' Which just goes to show that if we really thought through the consequences of our actions, we'd probably never do anything.
So at last, with the help of my kindly producer, Sam Charters, ('Yeah, it's a great song, but you can't sing it'.), I managed to pare the program down to a mere 27 songs. If time and the budget had allowed, it could just as easily been double that, but at least I hope it gives some idea of how much great stuff is out there.
Before taking my leave, I would like to especially thank Frank Christian, guitarist and songwriter of the first chop; Keith Ingham, a pianist and arranger of almost unbelievable versatility, Dakota Dave Hull, arranger extraordinare, and man of a thousand guitars, and the aforementioned Sam Charters, who got me into this thing in the first place.
My thanks also to Andrea Vuocolo (my wife), whose idea for the Friendship Quilt cover helped pull the whole concept together.
Finally, I would like to dedicate this album to my boon companion Tom lntondi, whose songwriting, always good, kept getting better and better until his untimely death last May, a great loss to all of us."
-- Dave Van Ronk
THE MUSICIANS -
Dave Van Ronk does the singing and plays the guitar on tracks 5, 1 0, 1 1, and 12 on Disc 1, and tracks 4, 6, 8, and 13 on Disc 2.
Frank Christian is the electric guitarist, and plays acoustic on tracks 3, 6 (including the solo), 7, 9 on Disc 1, tracks 2, 5, 7, 9, and 13 on Disc 2. Keith lngham is the pianist and also did many of the arrangements. He is the organist on THINGS.
Dakota Dave Hull plays acoustic guitars on tracks 4 (both guitars), 6, and 10 (rhythm and solo) on Disc 1, tracks 4, 6 and 13 on Disc 2, and helped set the arrangements. The guitarist on SOON MY WORK is Erik Frandsen. Murray Wall plays the acoustic bass, David Conred, electric bass. Drums, Arnie Kinselle, harmonica, Bill Ferns, accordion. Anne De Marinis, jug and washboard, Sam Charters.
Special thanks to Paul Geramia for his half of the guitar duet on his STONE SOBER BLUES, Tom Paxton for singing the harmony on his RAMBLIN' BOY, and Christine Lavin for her scat chorus on her AMOEBA HOP. (Thanks to Andrea Vuocolo for 'For them it's a monster song.')
The voices on WRAP THE WORLD and TO ALL MY FRIENDS IN FAR FLUNG PLACES are Brift Savage (single harmony voice on ALL MY FRIENDS), Ado Dyer, and Shelly Thompson, vocal arrangements by Sam Charters. The voices on THINGS are Christine Lavin and Eve Silber, vocal arrangement by Dave Van Ronk and Andrea Vuocolo.
Our thanks to the singers on SOON MY WORK, and THE SAILORS
PRAYER: Heather Wood, Christine Lavin, Peri Lyons, Frank Christian, Chris Lowe, Eric Frandson, Dove Massengill, and Sam Charters. For THE DRINKING SONG they are joined by Andrea Vuocolo, Mallay
Charters, and Jenny Schuessler
2 CD set Gazell GPCD 2011/12
Fast Folk FF 802 (Vol. 8, No. 2)
2 CD setnotes by Christine Lavin Rounder / Philo CD 1164 (US 1994)
notes by Samuel Charters Prestige PRCD-9901-2 (US 1995)
= Big Beat CDWIKD 134 (UK 1995)
Bluesville Records discographyRamblin' Jack Elliott discographyEric Von Schmidt discographyBonnie Dobson discography
notes by Samuel Charters Prestige PRCD 9902-2 (US 1995)
= Big Beat CDWIKD 135 (UK 1995)
Bluesville Records discographyJesse Fuller discographyEric von Schmidt discographyLarry Johnson discographyDanny Kalb discography
notes by Samuel Charters Prestige PRCD-9903-2 (US 1995)
= Big Beat CDWIKD 136 (UK 1995)
Bluesville Records discographyRev. Gary Davis discographyMitch Greenhill discographyDanny Kalb discography
Alcazar CD ALC 120 (Ca 1995)
Smithsonian Folkways CD 40062 (US 1996)
Shanachie CD 8023 (US 1996)
notes by Samuel ChartersPrestige PRCD-9915-2 (US 1996)
notes by Michael Nerenberg Just A Memory CD 9132 (Ca 1997)
Vanguard CD 73134-2 (US 1997)
Prime CD 37
2 CD set; notes by Michael Schumacher & David Cohen Sliced Bread CD 71176
notes by Jeff Place Smithsonian Folkways SFW40085
Blue Plate Music 312
3 CD setBMG Special Products
Rhino Special Products CD R2 7477
# Silverwolf CD SWC 1009
Silverwolf SWKCD 1016 (US 1999)
Hightone CD 8107
Cannonball CBD 29117
Justin Time Records CD JUST 166-2
3 CD boxRhino R2 74264 (US 2001)
notes by Mitch GreenhillFantasy FCD-24772-2 (US 2002)
3-CD Setnotes by Ed Ward Vanguard 3VCD 208-10 (Germany 2002)= Vanguard CD 79715 (US 2003)
notes by Andrea Vuocolo, David Eisner, Elijah Wald and Tom Paxton Smithsonian Folkways CD SFW40156
Companion CD to Dave Van Ronk's memoir of the Greenwich Village folk revival, "The Mayor of MacDougal Street" (DaCapo Press, 2005)
notes by Elijah Wald Rootstock MCM-4005
notes by Harald Moenkedieck Tradition & Moderne T&M 041 (Germany 2007)
3 CD box setTompkins Square TSQ 2967
3-disc set40-pp. booklet by Jeff Place and Andrea Vuocolo Smithsonian Folkways SFW40213 (US 10/2013)
notes by Happy Traum and Rick Chelew Omnivore OVCD-83= Elk Run 6651016020
2 CD setnotes (November 2014) by Mary Katherine Aldin RockBeat ROC-CD-3284
2 CD set; notes by Richie UnterbergerFestival (2014)
Platinum PLP 39/24051 (Germany)
Verve Folkways FTS-3017
Warner Brothers CD 9 45851-2
Flying Fish CD 671
Warner Brothers CD 46873
Warner Brothers WS-1449
more info / some lyrics
re-released 1997:Adelphi / Genes CD 4101
Patrick Sky discography
Fast Folk FF 502(Vol. 5, No. 2)
Broken White CD 6008
Gadfly CD 295
source of left column drawing: Back cover of Polydor 24-4052
thanks to Foster Carder, Gerry Clarke, Robert Lyng, Elijah Wald, Alessandro Nobis, Simon Garber, Sneana Lazarević and Larry Hoffman for additional info / scans