Dave Van Ronk – The Real Llewyn Davis

InsideDaveVanRonk

The new Coen Brothers movie Inside Llewyn Davis follows the fictional Llewyn Davis as he tries to find success in the early 60s New York folk scene. Davis is loosely based on the legendary Dave Van Ronk, the Brooklyn-born folk singer who was one of the early leaders of the famous music era. Ronk might not be as well known as he is critically acclaimed, but his music career is rooted in the same folk tradition of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, and he was a mentor and friend to many young musicians, including a young kid from Hibbing, Minnesota who came to New York knowing no one and who would find guidance from Ronk.

Ronk was nicknamed “The Mayor of MacDougal Street”, the street within Greenwich Village that was home to all the coffee houses where most of the folk music was being rediscovered by a new generation. He was a highly respected spokesman of the scene who knew and shared nearly every folk standard that was being played, and even today he is still consider one of the most important musicians of folk music.

Bob Dylan describe Ronk in his Chronicles like so:

“I’d heard Van Ronk back in the Midwest on records and thought he was pretty great, copied some of his recordings phrase for phrase. […] Van Ronk could howl and whisper, turn blues into ballads and ballads into blues. I loved his style. He was what the city was all about. In Greenwich Village, Van Ronk was king of the street, he reigned supreme.”

Very kind words from the man who usually gets most of the credit for the 60s folk revival, a revival that many argued was furthered thanks to Dave Van Ronk.

 

And here’s the trailer for Inside Llewyn Davis.

Music Journal: April Recap – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Turns 10 And Woody Guthrie Turns 100

Oh yeah, and the Lollapalooza 2012 lineup was announced….nothing big.

Happy 10th Birthday Yankee Hotel Foxtrot!

Ten years ago in April, Wilco’s seminal 4th album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was released after a long battle against their record label that wouldn’t release the damn thing.  It’s a great story (click here to see a brief summary), but the real reason we’re celebrating  is because the music has aged very well.  This is one of my favorite albums that I highly recommend to anyone.

 

Happy 100th Birthday Woody Guthrie!

April held another special birthday, which also had something to do with Wilco.  Woody Guthrie would have turned 100 this April, and if you don’t know who he is, he’s (arguably) the most influential American folk musician ever.  His influence on musicians such as a young Bob Dylan was crazy, and he wrote “This Land Is Your Land”, a song that has been seriously debated to replace “The Star Spangled Banner” as America’s national anthem.

Now back in the late 90s Wilco and British folk singer Billy Bragg collaborated on Mermaid Avenue, a tribute album in a sense that took old Guthrie lyrics and updated the music to reintroduce the folk singer to a new generation.  In April, to celebrate Woody’s birthday, the entire Mermaid Avenue sessions were released, with the original albums and new material.  This is a terrific collection and a high recommendation for anyone who wants to get into folk music.

 

Lollapalooza 2012 Lineup Announced

Lollapalooza, one of America’s most commercially successful music festivals, announced its lineup for this year.  The three day festival will happen in Chicago August 3-5.  Click here to see the full lineup and click here to see my reaction to this year’s lineup.

 

Album Of The Month: Jack White – Blunderbuss

One of rock & roll’s most dependable figures finally released his first solo album, and it doesn’t disappoint.  White dabbles in different genres which he puts together coherently, yet everything is grounded in rock & roll tradition.  The album successfully both pumps you up and slows you down.

 

Song I Listened To The Most This Month: M. Ward – “Clean Slate”

M. Ward has always been one of those artist I knew I would probably like but did not know what album to start with.  I think now I’ve finally found that album.  A Wasteland Companion, which was also released this April, is a very appealing introduction to the indie-folkie.  The album opener “Clean Slate” is a magic slow jam of a song, and has been on repeat all month.

Music Journal: Music I Bought In Broad Ripple

Where do young people go to retire?  No, I’m not talking about Portland (though all of the hot girls do wear glasses), I’m talking about Broad Ripple, Indiana.  With a plethora of local organic stores, the monon trail for bikers and runners, and a lust natural landscape that blossoms in the Spring, Broad Ripple is one of the coolest places in the Midwest, and it’s where I spend my Easter weekend.  While down there I did some shopping at the Indy CD & Vinyl store and splurged on some quality music.  Here are some of the albums I got.

Television – Marquee Moon

I now know what Niles Cline listened to as a kid.  This is a guitar player’s album, full of tasty licks courtesy of Tom Verlaine that has more guitar freak outs then conventional solos, making Marquee Moon a more unique guitar study.  This album came out of the CBGB era but it still sounds great in 2012.

 

Sharon Van Etten – Tramp

After seeing her last week with the War on Drugs I had to buy something of hers, so I went with this year’s Tramp, which is shaping up to be her most accessible album.  It’s not as intimate as Because I Was In Love, but the production is top notch (courtesy of the National’s Aaron Dessner) and Sharon is growing into a confident songwriter and singer.  This is someone you’ll want to be on the lookout for in the near future.

 

Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A-Changin’

I’ve been meaning to get this album for sometime, and now it’s finally apart of my ever growing Dylan collection (it would probably take me a could of years to find ALL of his albums).  I love this album for the simplicity and how direct his lyrics are.  This, along with Bring It All Back Home, contains some of my favorite lyrics, and I especially enjoy the large Woody Guthrie influence shown throughout this album.

 

BADBADNOTGOOD – BBNG2

I always dig what this jazzy trio is up to, and I love their second album.  All these guys are under 21, but they have some serious chops.  BBNG2 makes for some chill listening that is combines jazz elements and modern hip-hop.  Their cover of James Blake and Kanye West is essential listening.