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Dave Van Ronk
T&M 041: 15.00 Euro
"Dave Van Ronk: On Air" - 2007

Folksinger Dave Van Ronk preferred to use this term with a mixture of true affection and ironic distance. For decades they had coined him a folk-singer and many times missed out on the real scope of his artistic identity. While Van Ronk may have been an integral part of the New York folk scene grounded in the folk tradition, he also really knew about jazz, blues, ragtime and gospel. Dave was a renaissance man when it came to American roots music. On Air is a true document of his musical authority. The pure essence of Dave Van Ronk singing and playing solo an intimate recording from January 1993.

From Van Ronks humble beginnings as a left-wing iconoclast in the early Fifties to the low-key epilogue of his career in the early 21st century, there are central themes and threads musically. This excellent live recording sheds some light on these threads, because it does not present Van Ronk in his adopted role as raconteur extraordinaire. This CD is all about the pure essence of Dave the singer and player. A man conversing with a number of musical ghosts that remained close to him all the way. Some of their names are Brownie McGhee, Mississippi John Hurt, Billie Holiday, Papa Charlie Jackson, Scrapper Blackwell, Willie Dixon, Eric Von Schmidt, Jelly Roll Morton. the list goes on. Dave had felt the original pulse and heartbeat of the music while its original practitioners were still around. He took it all in and then proceeded to become an ambassador for the music, communicating its spirit to all those listening. And listen they did in Northern Germany on this cold evening in January 1993. Getting to see Van Ronk live and in person was nothing to be taken for granted. Van Ronk didnt like to board airplanes and thus had neglected to play abroad for many years. He finally started performing overseas in the Eighties and made up for his previous neglect to a degree. The Packhaus Theater in Bremens historical Schnoor district provided the perfectly intimate atmosphere for his concert. As Van Ronks visit could not be repeated, the Radio Bremen recordings of this show remains a historical document to be cherished.

Dave Van Ronk succumbed to cancer on February 10th, 2002. He was 65 years old. On the day that would have been his 67th birthday, the city of New York re-named a part of Sheridan Square Dave Van Ronk Street. May his voice and guitar be just as present as his name still is. This new release in the On Air series aims to contribute to this memory of a unique artist and a great soul.

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