Dave Van Ronk | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Dave Van Ronk 

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If anyone ever asks you just what you mean by "whiskey voiced," play them a Dave Van Ronk record--whether he's growling out a ribald blues anthem or purring a love song, Van Ronk's voice paints an aural portrait of the prototypical hard-traveling busker. Like a lot of folkies from the 50s and 60s, Van Ronk began his career as a purist, specializing in pristine fingerpicking, earnest balladry, and a world-weary bluesiness that he managed to make convincing despite his youth. Yet he's never functioned strictly as a revivalist: he can make even the most overcooked chestnuts sound like tales from his own life. His current CD, From...Another Time & Place (Alcazar), includes everything from rollicking versions of traditional southern blues standards to sublime originals like the intimate and tender "Honey Hair"--a love ballad that Van Ronk elevates to rare eloquence with his classical-tinged chording. He even manages to bring new life to "Hoochie Coochie Man," arguably the tiredest of all modern blues warhorses, not to mention "He Was a Friend of Mine," a tune he learned from Bob Dylan that has become something of a theme song over the years. Sunday, 7 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 909 W. Armitage; 773-525-7793. DAVID WHITEIS

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Marc Norberg.


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