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Dave Van Ronk

Biography

Dave Van Ronk was one of the best Folk-Blues musicians of the 20th century. His retrospective, rustic, perfectionist performances and arrangements of classic Acoustic Blues songs go unmatched by anyone else obsessed with old time music. Most anyone who has ever played the Acoustic Blues in Van Ronk's native home of New York has been tutored by this talented singer-songwriter. Bob Dylan spent a lot of time with Van Ronk in 1961 shortly after making the move from Dinkytown, Minnesota. Van Ronk began recording professionally in 1959 when he released Ballads, Blues and a Spiritual on Moses Asch's Folkways label. When he was a merchant seaman, folk songstress Odetta encouraged Van Ronk to play the Classic Jazz that he was infatuated with at the time. Van Ronk was soon turned on to the energetic and enthusiastic Greenwich Village coffeehouse folk scene, where he learned how to draw a large crowd and fingerpick a guitar like the great Piedmont pickers. His deep, grumble and rasp-inflected singing -- as well as his obscure knowledge of hillbilly jug-band standards and swarthy drinking songs -- appealed to the folkies who were constantly searching for purists to teach them about the history of these rich American musical traditions. Van Ronk continued to record (for Alcazar Records) and play folk music festivals throughout the greater United States until his death in 2002 at age 65.
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