Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Dave Van Ronk
Dave Van Ronk (June 30 1937 - February 10 2002) was a folk singer born in Brooklyn and nicknamed the "Mayor of Greenwich Village." He is perhaps best known for his Anti-war folk songwriting, like the sardonic Luang Prabang.
He began his musical career in the late 1950s, touring colleges and small venues in the beat scene. He performed blues, jazz and folk music, writing his own songs and doing new arrangements of classics. He continued to perform for four decades and gave his last concert just a few months before his death. Van Ronk was very influential on the music scene in New York City in the 1960s. He found it amusing to be called "a legend in his own time."
He supported radical political causes. He was a member of the Libertarian League and took part in the Stonewall Riots. In 1974 he staged a concert with Bob Dylan, an old friend, in aid of refugees from the military coup by Augusto Pinochet in Chile.
He was married to the singer Andrea Vuocolo . A street in Greenwich Village was named after him in 2004.
Dave Van Ronk is perhaps underestimated as a musician and blues guitarist. His guitar is noteworthy for both its syncopation and precision, in comparision to say Mississippi John Hurt. He stands without peer in bringing black style blues to the Village in the crucial year of 1962 (and played with Bob Dylan). He taught guitar for many years in Greenwich Village. The Prestige album Inside Dave Van Ronk is avilable in remastered form from Fantasy Records. It took me a long while to find it. He was brilliant at Blink Willie's in Atlanta in 2000 (?). He was decked out in garish Hawaiian shirt and clearly yearning to get back to the Village. He chuckled when asked to play Good Ol Wagon -- saying this one used to by funny back in 1962. He passed away two years later. It is a great loss. He is incomparable as a guitarist and an interpreter of black blues and folk -- and always irreverent. He had the ability to improvise but later adding this improvisation to a very precise rendition during concerts. Too few people appreciate this very fine musician (and champion of radical causes). Neil Diamond among others always stated that Dave's version of "Clouds" aka "Both Sides Now"" was the finest of its kind. His favorite beverage was Tullamore Dew - in the stoneware jug always seen on stage next to him in the early days. Dave would not fly, did not drive, and would never move from Greenwich Village. This made travel around the USA somewhat lengthy - and often by train...which suited him just fine.
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