The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #23300 Message #258523
Posted By: dwditty
16-Jul-00 - 01:53 AM
Thread Name: Dave Van Ronk-CT T'Nite
Subject: RE: Dave Van Ronk-CT T'Nite
OK, 'Spaw. First of all, I will continue to make every effort to see Van Ronk every chance I get - I like his music that much. I have all available CDs, many vinyl and tape recordings, and even some taped guitart lessons. The back of his Just Dave Van Ronk album says "I can tell a lie, but I can't sing one" and that is borne out in every performance he gives. I truly believe that he would walk out on a show before he would fake it.
Anyway, I arrived about an hour or so before show time. Hey, I like to get to the park to see batting practice, too. I pulled up and parked right smack dab in from of the Acoustic Cafe in Black Rock (which is really stretching to make the western edges of Bridgeport sound like a nice place). Well, there was Dave Van Ronk himself just sitting at a table in front of the place smoking a cigarette. I walked up, said good evening, and sat down. It became pretty obvious that any conversation would have to come from me so I told him I was a student of his through his tape lessons. He laughed and said, "Oh, those old things." I said they were perfect for a noodler like me. He laughed again, but I guess it broke the ice. He talked about the old blues guys he knew - Gary Davis, Brownie McGhee, John Hurt, and the rest, as well as his contemporaries like Stefan Grossman and Roy Book Binder. I talked about the Mudcat. He didn't share my enthusiam, but he did perk up a bit when I mentioned the world-wide song circles taking place on hearme. I have to say that he looked better than any time I have seen him in the last several years. His voice, as raspy as ever, has gotten very soft when he speaks - like maybe he's saving it for his performances.
The room was a long narrow affair seating about70-75. The room was full and, judging from the age of the audience (or from the age of the kids some brought with them - 20 something), the folks who attended had a long connection with Dave Van Ronk's music. I chatted with some, retelling the tales of Mudcat. I even gave a couple of people a slip of paper with the mudcat's url and a brief description of what they might find here. Will they come? We'll see. Almost nobody I tell about the mudcat ever checks it out. It's kind of like life - it only has real meaning if you discover it for yourself. So on with the show.
He opened with Down South Blues, playing a very jerky, synchopated opening that made everyone shut and pay attention to grasp what he was doing. From then on he had us. He did stuff like Winin' Boy, Good Old Wagon ("There was a time when I thought that song was funny." .. Dave Van Ronk 7/14/2000)), Candyman, Mamie's Blues, Green Green Rocky Road, Sportin' Life Blues, He Was a Friend of Mine,....In the past he would either say nothing or use a story to introduce a song. Last night he used the songs to introduce some really terrfic stories, particularly about Brownie McGhee and Gary Davis. He is still amazing. Within a single song, his voice can go from a soft, raspy whisper to a piercing growl that hits you right between the eyes.
I'll never forget the irst time I heard a Dave Van Ronk record about 1961-1962. He still sounds fresh to me. It was great to see that he was enjoying his music as much as I had ever seen. To me, Van Ronk is as much a national treasure as any folk/blues singer that has ever been on the scene. I can't wait to see him again.