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Archive for the ‘Dave Van Ronk’ Category

Folk Heroes: Omnivore Celebrates Hank Williams and Dave Van Ronk

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Hank Williams - Garden SpotThis month, Omnivore Recordings turns its attention to two singer-songwriters who could be said to embody the spirit of American music, Hank Williams and Dave Van Ronk.

Though he died just aged 29 in 1953, Hank Williams remains a towering figure in country-and-western music.  The likes of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “Cold, Cold Heart,” “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” and “Hey Good Lookin’” have been recorded countless times in country, pop, R&B and rock renditions by artists young and old.  Naturally the appetite for unheard Williams music has hardly diminished over the passing years, resulting in numerous archival excavations of rare material.   Omnivore’s The Garden Spot Programs 1950 is 2014’s major Williams find.

The label previewed the title, which arrives in stores on May 20, with a Record Store Day exclusive vinyl release containing eight songs.  On February 24, we wrote, “Culled from rare radio show recordings Williams cut for Naughton Farms, a plant nursery in Waxahachie, Texas (with a session band, not his familiar Drifting Cowboys ensemble), these recordings found Williams tackle hits, standards and material he rarely, if ever, recorded anywhere else. Sourced from newly-discovered transcription discs, these tunes haven’t been heard for nearly six decades.”

The 24 tracks on The Garden Spot Programs collects material from the four such programs that still exist, and preserve Williams’ between-song patter, as well. Among the full release’s 24 tracks are songs such as “Oh Susanna,” “A Mansion on the Hill,” “I Can’t Get You Off of My Mind,” “Lovesick Blues” and “I’ll Be a Bachelor ‘Til I Die,” with some songs presented in multiple versions.  The CD packaging contains rare photos from the collection of historian and co-producer Colin Escott, as well as his new liner notes.  The release will be available on both CD and LP, with the first vinyl pressing on limited-edition, translucent red vinyl (with black vinyl to follow).  The LP package also contains Escott’s notes as well as a download card.  Williams’ daughter Jett Williams commented of The Garden Spot Programs, “It’s incredible to me that we’re still finding new recordings by my dad. Great ones, at that! No one even suspected that these recordings existed. We partnered with Omnivore Recordings for this release, and I especially love it that they’re taking my dad back to vinyl.”

After the jump:  we travel from Hank’s native Alabama to the heart of Greenwich Village with “The Mayor of MacDougal Street,” Dave Van Ronk! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 6, 2014 at 10:44

Meet the Inspiration Behind “Llewyn Davis” with Dave Van Ronk LP Reissue

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Inside Dave Van RonkWhen this year’s Golden Globe nominations were announced, three of the coveted nods went to Joel and Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis, a vibrant portrayal of the heady days of New York’s Greenwich Village when anyone with a guitar and a dream had a chance to be heard and perhaps “make it big.”  Oscar Isaac, a nominee for Best Performance by an Actor – Comedy or Musical, portrays the titular character, a misanthropic, nomadic folkie (and former Merchant Marine) with a proclivity for misplacing cats.  The Coens’ tale, a Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical nominee, is at turns heartbreaking, bitterly funny and all too real, particularly in the climactic sequence when a new arrival on the Village scene threatens to change the landscape forever.  The filmmakers haven’t made a secret of the fact that the movie was, in part, inspired by the life and career of Dave Van Ronk (1936-2002).  Van Ronk, the so-called Mayor of MacDougal Street, befriended young future icons like Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton and Phil Ochs, and became a key figure in the acoustic folk revival of the early 1960s.  He, too, was a sometime-Merchant Marine and struggling singer.  And like Llewyn Davis, he could often be found heckling his fellow performers from the audience at the Gaslight Café.  Now, Fantasy Records is revisiting Inside Dave Van Ronk – the 1964 album with the title that inspired the current motion picture – as a special vinyl LP reissue.

Inside Dave Van Ronk was recorded in April 1962 at the same sessions that yielded material for his first Prestige Records LP Dave Van Ronk, Folksinger.  (Both albums were combined in 1972 as one double-LP set which was in turn reissued on CD in 1989.  This disc, titled Inside Dave Van Ronk, is still in print.)    Inside was primarily devoted to traditional songs (“House Carpenter,” “Fair and Tender Ladies,” “Kentucky Moonshiner”) with the timely “Talking Cancer Blues” a notable exception.  “Cancer” took bitingly comic aim at the evils of smoking before it was in vogue to do so!  Van Ronk played six- and twelve-string guitars on the LP in addition to banjo, dulcimer and autoharp.  Though in the acoustic folk style, the album incorporated the various influences that held sway over the Brooklyn-born Van Ronk.  In his early days, Van Ronk sang with various New Orleans-style jazz bands, and elements of jazz, ragtime and especially blues informed his style.  He was also an expert talent spotter, frequently associating with the just-arrived-in-New-York Bob Dylan.  Van Ronk came to Prestige (since 1971 part of the Fantasy Records family) having recorded two albums for Folkways in 1959 and 1961; that label earlier this year also released a comprehensive Van Ronk compendium, Down in Washington Square.

After the jump: more on Van Ronk including the full track listing and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 8, 2014 at 09:41