Dave Van Ronk at Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, NY, 1974

LIVE AT CAFFE LENA : MUSIC FROM AMERICA’S LEGENDARY COFFEEHOUSE, 1967-2013
English: The front of Caffè Lena on Phila Stre...
English: The front of Caffè Lena on Phila Street in Saratoga Springs, New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s wonderful to see the revival of interest in the music and art of Dave Van Ronk. This is a direct result of the Coen Brothers Film, Inside Llewyn Davis that started its limited engagement in New York and Los Angeles today.

Tompkins Square Records released Live At Caffe Lena: Music From America’s Legendary Coffeehouse 1967-2013 this past summer. It’s a chock full 3 CD Box Set that is complemented by a coffee table book, Caffè Lena: Inside America’s Legendary Folk Music Coffeehouse (powerHouse Books) which brings more than 200 never seen, evocative images and stories to the public.

 “The story of Caffè Lena is the secret history of the folk-music scene. Lena was a pioneering woman in a man’s world and her story needs to be told.” —Holly George-Warren

Here is a Sound Cloud of 40 minutes of Dave Van Ronk’s set from 1974 at Caffe Lena

 

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Down in Washington Square: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection

I increase my knowledge of American folk music as time leads up to the release date of the Coen Brother’s film, Inside Llewyn Davis on December 6, 2013.

I noticed that WPKN is hosting a two-day American & Folk Music Special fundraiser. (Tue. 11/12 & Wed. 11/13) WPKN is a 100% non-commercial, listener supported radio station broadcasting at 89.5 FM in Bridgeport, Connecticut and formerly 88.7 FM (WPKM) in Montauk, New York. You can also hear WPKN via the Internet at WPKN.ORG or through their WPKN Live iPhone & iPad App available for free from the iTunes App Store.

The synergy between the WPKN fundraiser and the blog posts the past few days on The Music of Our Heart is that one of the musical premiums for a $120 pledge includes 1) Dave Van Ronk‘s Down in Washington Square: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection 3 CD Box Set, 2) Inside Llewyn Davis Original Soundtrack Recording, and 3) the DVD documentary Greenwich Village: Music That Defined a Generation

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The Dave Van Ronk Box Set can be listened to in its entirety on Spotify and the liner notes which are a delightful, informative read can be downloaded as a PDF here.

Greenwich Village: Music That Defined a Generation

We continue with the theme of Greenwich Village, Folk Music, the 60’s, Suze Rotolo, Bob Dylan, and Dave Van Ronk.

Tomorrow, November 12th is the release date for the documentary, Greenwich Village: Music That Defined a GenerationDirected by Laura Archibald.

In April of 1961, more than 500 musicians gathered in Greenwich Village’s Washington Square to sing folk songs to promote peace and harmony. The result was what would become a symbol of these tumultuous times, police riot squads attacking singers and civilians with billy clubs, arrests and lines drawn in the sand.

The clash became known as the Washington Square Folk Riot and put down in the history books as the first ‘freedom of speech’ revolt, and only strengthened the drawing power of Greenwich Village as the place of change for a generation.

The movie’s structural binding ingredient is the voice of Susan Sarandon reading excerpts from “A Freewheelin’ Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village,” a 2008 recollection by Mr. Dylan’s onetime girlfriend Suze Rotolo, who met him in 1961, when she was 17 and he was 20. (Movie Review, When They Hammered Out Justice in the ’60s ‘Greenwich Village: Music That Defined a Generation’ by Stephen Holden, NY Times, January 17, 2013)

Inside Llewyn Davis Soundtrack Vinyl LP Is $5.98, Today Only!

The Inside Llewyn Davis soundtrack is available on vinyl at indie record stores at the “throwback 60’s” price of $5.98, today only, one week ahead of the CD and digital versions’ official November 11th street date.

If you can’t get to an indie store it is available online, today only at the Nonesuch Store.  Nonesuch Store orders include an exclusive 11″ x 7″ poster from the film and an instant download of “Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song)” performed by Oscar Isaac, who plays Llewyn Davis in the film, and Marcus Mumford.

“Inside Llewyn Davis” Soundtrack IS Streaming in Full As NPR First Listen until November 11th.

Inside Llewyn Davis Soundtrack

The Inside Llewyn Davis soundtrack has been announced on Nonesuch Records.  The soundtrack features songs by Bob Dylan and Dave Van Ronk, along with tunes performed by stars of the movie, including Justin Timberlake, Oscar Isaac and Carey Mulligan, as well as Marcus Mumford (Mulligan’s husband) and the Punch Brothers.

The 14-song collection, produced by T Bone Burnett, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, is due out September 17th on Nonesuch (pre-order it here). Soundtrack pre-orders include an exclusive, 11″ x 7″ print from the film.

The Coen brothers have collaborated with T Bone Burnett for the fourth time, who won five Grammys for the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou?

“Hang Me, Oh Hang Me” (Traditional; arranged by Oscar Isaac and T Bone Burnett) – Oscar Isaac
“Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song)” (Traditional; arranged by Marcus Mumford, Oscar Isaac and T Bone Burnett) – Marcus Mumford and Oscar Isaac
“The Last Thing on My Mind” (Tom Paxton) – Stark Sands with Punch Brothers
“Five Hundred Miles” (Hedy West) – Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan and Stark Sands
“Please Mr. Kennedy” (Ed Rush, George Cromarty, T Bone Burnett, Justin Timberlake, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen) – Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake and Adam Driver
“Green, Green Rocky Road” (Len Chandler and Robert Kaufman) – Oscar Isaac
“The Death of Queen Jane” (Traditional; arranged by Oscar Isaac and T Bone Burnett) – Oscar Isaac
“The Roving Gambler” (Traditional) – John Cohen with the Down Hill Strugglers
“The Shoals of Herring” (Ewan MacColl) – Oscar Isaac with Punch Brothers
“The Auld Triangle” (Brendan Behan) – Chris Thile, Chris Eldridge, Marcus Mumford, Justin Timberlake and Gabe Witcher
“The Storms Are on the Ocean” (A.P. Carter) – Nancy Blake
“Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song) (Traditional; arranged by Oscar Isaac) – Oscar Isaac
“Farewell” (Bob Dylan) – Bob Dylan
“Green, Green Rocky Road” (Len Chandler and Robert Kaufman) – Dave Van Ronk

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/news/inside-llewyn-davis-soundtrack-includes-bob-dylan-justin-timberlake-20130627#ixzz2XWU8tURL

Inside Llewyn Davis Update

MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village
MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the 2013 Cannes Film Festival the Grand Prix prize (AKA, second place) went to Joel Coen and Ethan Coen‘s ‘Inside Llewyn Davis,’ which tells the story of a folk musician in Greenwich Village in the early 1960s.

I have been enthusiastic about this film since I first discovered its existence. I went out and purchased the book The Mayor of MacDougal Street about Dave Van Ronk on which the fim is based. I read it with a passion I rarely feel from authors.

I was in Greenwich Village yesterday on MacDougal Street actually spending time with our son and family walking about as we admired the sights and the scene.

Here is the new poster for the film, scheduled to début on US screens on December 6, 2013.

I am eager to hear the soundtrack when it is released as I believe T-Bone Burnett has the midas touch when it comes to music. T-Bone Burnett let it slip there would be a series of live music shows performed prior to the film’s release. The music of our heart is all ears for when these performances will be announced, trusting some will be in NYC 😉

 

Sing Out! Broadsides and Banjos: The Folk Music Revival with Elijah Wald

The Mayor of MacDougal Street: A MemoirI was unable to attend last night’s New York Public Library event, Sing Out! Broadsides and Banjos: The Folk Music Revival with Elijah Wald. I was there in spirit as I completed the audio book,  The Mayor of MacDougal Street (Dave Van Ronk/Elijah Wald) last night on the drive home from the campus. I swear I was listening to Elijah Wald’s Afterword as he was finishing up his public talk.

I was jazzed however to discover that the event was taped and available for viewing on the IRocke YouTube NY Public Library channel.

Dave Van Ronk and the folk music era of the 60s in the Village is vogue right now. This is due to the interest and energy centered around the Coen Brothers film, Inside Llewyn DavisThe book, The Mayor of MacDougal Street serves as a major source for the film. After listening to the audio book these past two weeks I totally get why the Coen Brothers chose that book to underscore the film.

 

Reverend Gary Davis, Ragtime Guitar

Dave Van Ronk was quite the musicologist. His book, The Mayor of MacDougal Streetinforms and educates us in-depth about the late 50’s and early 6o’s blues and folk music of the Village. He takes great delight in sharing the time he spent influenced by the Reverend Gary Davis.

Rev. Gary Davis was renowned for his ragtime guitar method.  He offered guitar lessons at his New York apartment. Dave Van Ronk was one of his students who carried on the ragtime guitar tradition.

Roy Book Binder was another student of Rev. Gary Davis. Listen to his stories about the impact that Rev. Gary Davis has had on his blues career.

Rev. Gary Davis had a major influence on Hot Tuna and Jorma Kaukonen.  Jorma and Jack have played Rev. Gary Davis’s body of work for decades. He does his blues style incredible justice.

Here is my favorite Rev. Gary Davis song  by his student Jorma Kaukonen, “I Am The Light of This World” from Quah

I hope you will seek to learn more about the life and music of Rev. Gary Davis. I suggest visiting a great fan site dedicated to the blues legend, http://reverendgarydavis.com/index.htm

This YouTube video was filmed for his Folk Alliance International Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.

Dave Van Ronk, The Anthology of Folk Music by Harry Smith

Dave Van Ronk, Folksinger
Dave Van Ronk, Folksinger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been sheer joy listening to Dave Van Ronk‘s memoir, The Mayor of MacDougal Street on Audio CD. Dave Van Ronk and Elijah Wald guide readers along like Robin Hood and His Merry Men on a passionate journey through the colorful past of Greenwich Village’s folk music scene. The story has added significance as our son lives right in the heart of the neighborhood. He is next to Washington Square Park and Dave Van Ronk Street across from Sheridan Square.

The book has rekindled my dormant flames of interest in folk music. I got the yearn for musicology when I attended the University of New Haven minoring in music. Thankfully that interest continues to guide my conscious flow. The first album by Dave Van Ronk  that played endlessly on my hi-fi was Dave Van Ronk, Folksinger (Prestige). I had no idea until I heard the book how important Izzy Young‘s Folklore Center (pictured on the cover) was to Dave and the folk music idiom.

Which brings me to the folk music foundation classic, The Anthology of Folk Music by Harry Smith. I first learned about the uniqueness of Harry Smith from Patti Smith’s book, Just Kids. Patti Smith and Harry Smith (no relation) were neighbors and close friends residing at The Chelsea Hotel. Harry Smith was also friends with Allen Ginsberg who captured his image in the last week of his life.

“Harry Smith, painter, archivist, anthropologist, film-maker & hermetic alchemist, his last week at Breslin Hotel Manhattan January 12, 1985, transforming milk into milk.” – Allen Ginsberg, Photo by Allen Ginsberg, Courtesy of Allen Ginsberg Trust and Fahey Klein Gallery, Los Angeles

After hearing Dave Van Ronk speak his praises of this essential box set I have to ask myself why haven’t I seen fit to add these essential recordings to my music collection. Arguably the most important release of all-time (1952), The Anthology is a collection of old-time music from the late 20′s and early 30′s that spawned the folk and blues revival of the 60′s and influenced everyone from Dylan to the Grateful Dead.

I must rectify that situation and trust me I will, soon ;). For the music of our heart is incomplete until I have the works by Harry Smith safely listened to and tucked away in my music library.

Inside Llewyn Davis and Dave Van Ronk

Yesterday I blogged about the six week music education series Rhapsodic City: Music of New York presented by the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. It just so happens the third week focuses on the Folk Music Revival in New York that took place in the 1950’s and ’60s. Greenwich Village became the artistic setting for performers, artists, and club owners.  The Village invokes a warm nostalgic feeling within the music of our heart. Our son lives there today and we love to visit the clubs, restaurants, and stores around this historic neighborhood.

Building on the April 2nd event Sing Out! with Elijah Wood I reconnect with Dave Van Ronk. Elijah Wood and Dave Van Ronk co-authored the book Dave Van Ronk: The Mayor of MacDougal StreetThe book is a memoir of the folk music scene in Greenwich Village. It has inspired the Coen Brothers to make the film, Inside Llewyn Davis

INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS follows an aspiring singer-songwriter (Isaac) as he navigates the 1960s folk-music scene in New York City’s Greenwich Village.  Grammy®-winner T Bone Burnett produced the film’s soundtrack which includes music performed by, among others, Oscar Isaac, Marcus Mumford and Justin Timberlake.  Robert Graf served as executive producer, T Bone Burnett served as executive music producer and Marcus Mumford as associate music producer.

The film has completed shooting in New York City and the International release date will be November 6, 2013 (France). Projected US release dates are unknown as of this writing. I have ordered the audio edition of the memoir to better immerse myself in the experience. The first trailer fascinates me to no end. Listen closely to the Bob Dylan track “Farewell” that plays underneath.

I think you will be asking as I  have been who does Llewyn Davis represent? Is he Dylan, Van Ronk, Phil Ochs or is a he a microcosm of that male folk singer of the time? Llewyn Davis will strike a chord in hopeless romantics who identify with living the life of a folkie in that halcyon age from our American culture. Perhaps this picture clues us in 😉

There are several reasons why I relish Dave Van Ronk’s spirit. I find him funny, compelling and engaging as an artist. He was quite the character as his recordings and live performances attest. He was a mentor and inspiration for Tom Paxton, Christine Lavin, Joni Mitchell, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Bob Dylan (who described Van Ronk as “the king who reigned supreme” in the Village)[27]

I had the rare opportunity to meet Dave Van Ronk in person in Hermosa Beach, California one Sunday afternoon years back. My brother-in-law and I attended an early evening solo appearance at The Lighthouse Cafe. We sat at the bar before the show and shared drinks, stories, holding an intimate conversation with Dave Van Ronk. My brother-in-law was the one who turned me on to Van Ronk from his record collection when I started dating my wife in 1969. I went on to feature Dave Van Ronk regularly on my college FM radio shows in the mid-70s.

This early 80’s opportunity to sit across the bar and comfortably chat with Dave Van Ronk was a privilge. He answered our questions openly like an friend indulging old friends. He wiped away that fans talking to a legend sensation to show who he truly was a down to earth soul of a man. He spoke about Bob Dylan in a fatherly way which I liked a lot. We ended up being just two of the 12 people who stopped by that night to hear him play a raucous 90 minute set that was quite animated. Dave Van Ronk played excellent guitar and I will never forget his gravely yet pearl toned voice.  “Cocaine Blues (Rev. Gary Davis Traditional)” was the highlight and we thanked him for playing that song for us all. 🙂