Nitty-gritty folk guitarist and singer Dave Van Ronk was one of the genre’s most expressive musicians. These 20 tracks represent his best-loved material and reveal his highly original synthesis of jazz and folk. Titles include “Willie the Weeper,” “Come Back, Baby,” “Hesitation Blues,” “Twelve Gates to the City,” and “Yas-Yas-Yas”—all favorites Van Ronk handpicked from his many Folkways LPs.
“His carefully crafted guitar accompaniments are varied, inventive, and often surprisingly delicate. The reasons for Van Ronk’s impact remain loud and clear.”—Sing Out
“Often regarded as the grand uncle of the Greenwich Village coffeehouse scene, the self-effacing Van Ronk [was] an engaging intellectual and voracious reader…. As the blues and folk boom bloomed into the 1960s, Van Ronk became part of an inner circle of musicians … including then up-and coming performers like Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton, Phil Ochs, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, and Joni Mitchell.”—All Music Guide
“In America's discovery and love affair with folk music, he played a very pivotal part in introducing many of us to the music of Afro-Americans that we just hadn't had on Top 40 before, much as the Weavers introduced us to folk music…. when you've got a [raspy] voice like that, what you're delivering is a lot more than just the melody and the lyrics. You're also delivering a history. And Dave, when he put his heart into a song, was able to bring us a whole lot of flavor and, you know, really lived it for us and gave us the opportunity to live it through him.”—Noel Paul Stookey on NPR
The folk music archives that form the wellspring of these Smithsonian recordings are truly incomparable. Encompassing a wide variety of styles, they reflect the heart, soul, and backbone of the American experience as well as indigenous music from around the world. Folkways' impeccable sound and documentation does these artists proud, setting their work off as the treasure it is.