Chrestomathy

A Chrestomathy

by Dave Van Ronk
     
 
On the back cover of this two-disc compilation, the word "chrestomathy" is helpfully defined as "a selection of choice passages." The challenge in making such a selection from the recorded work of Dave Van Ronk, who says in his liner notes, "I've lost count of how many records I've made," adding, "(20?)," would seem to be getting permission from the many record

Overview

On the back cover of this two-disc compilation, the word "chrestomathy" is helpfully defined as "a selection of choice passages." The challenge in making such a selection from the recorded work of Dave Van Ronk, who says in his liner notes, "I've lost count of how many records I've made," adding, "(20?)," would seem to be getting permission from the many record companies that issued those records initially, including Folkways, Prestige, Mercury, Verve Forecast, Rounder, and Flying Fish. Apparently, permissions were granted, since tracks from those records appear, although no specific information about them is included. The material dates back to Van Ronk's second Folkways album, Van Ronk Sings, Vol. 2 (1961), the tracks "Tell Old Bill" and "Come Back Baby," which find him alone with his acoustic guitar in his initial folk-blues mode. He may be right to consider his subsequent tenure at the Folklore subsidiary of the jazz label Prestige (for the albums Dave Van Ronk, Folksinger, and Inside Dave Van Ronk) his first wholly satisfactory recording experience, and he draws seven tracks from that association, including one of his signature songs, "Cocaine Blues." He always denied the description "folksinger," and pointed to his past as a performer of traditional jazz in the mid-'50s, a heritage he called upon for his 1964 Mercury LP Dave Van Ronk & the Ragtime Jug Stompers, notably on such songs as the marijuana novelty "You's a Viper." And he finally conceded to the folk-rock trend by organizing another band for the 1968 Verve Forecast album Dave Van Ronk & the Hudson Dusters, resulting in half a dozen tracks here, including Joni Mitchell's "Chelsea Morning" and "Both Sides Now" (which he insisted on calling "Clouds"). That was the end of Van Ronk's recording for a while (there's nothing here from 1973's Cadet Records LP Songs for Ageing Children), but he was back in the mid-'70s on Rounder in more of a folk mode and by the '80s was even doing an album of Bertolt Brecht songs such as "Mack the Knife" and writing his own novelties like "Garden State Stomp" (its lyrics a recitation of the names of towns in New Jersey). All of this, along with his affection for the pop music of his childhood ("Two Sleepy People," sung with Christine Lavin, "Swinging on a Star"), makes for a more varied chrestomathy than those who think of Dave Van Ronk simply as a folksinger might expect. It's hard to summarize more than three decades in the career of a steadily working musician in less than two hours, even one who recorded in as piecemeal a fashion as this one, but this compilation does a good job.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/04/1994
Label:
Gazell Records
UPC:
0099792200729
catalogNumber:
2007

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Dave Van Ronk   Primary Artist,Guitar,Kazoo,Vocals,Soloist,5-string Banjo
Christine Lavin   Vocals
Keith Ingham   Piano
Billy Novick   Kazoo,Penny Whistle
Frankie Armstrong   Vocals
Samuel Charters   Jug,Washtub Bass
Luke Faust   Jug
Erik Frandsen   Guitar
Mitch Greenhill   Hawaiian Guitar
Danny Kalb   Guitar
Rick Marotta   Drums
Earl May   Bass
John Pizzarelli   Guitar
Jay Ungar   Mandolin
Jackie Williams   Drums
Artie Rose   Mandolin
Lou Mauro   Bass
Barry Kornfeld   Banjo,Ukulele
Edmond Gregory   Bass

Technical Credits

Hoagy Carmichael   Composer
Bob Dylan   Composer
Keith Ingham   Arranger
Jimmy Kennedy   Composer
Dave Van Ronk   Composer,Liner Notes
Frank Loesser   Composer
Michael Brovsky   Producer
Johnny Burke   Composer
Samuel Charters   Producer
Gary Cristall   Producer
Kenneth S. Goldstein   Producer
Mitch Greenhill   Producer
Paul Rothchild   Producer
James Van Heusen   Composer
Barry Kornfeld   Producer
Henry Lodge   Composer
Bill Cogswell   Composer
Traditional   Composer
John W. Bratton   Composer
Tommy Harrison   Composer

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