Ramblin' Jack Elliott | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Ramblin' Jack Elliott 

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The former Elliot Charles Adnopoz of Brooklyn, New York, is the guy the tall-tale tellers warned you about: the city kid who reinvented himself as a cowboy, the hobo who turned out to be a genius (oh wait, that was Harry Partch too), the young folkie who was mentored by Woody Guthrie in a way Bob Dylan was born too late to be, the shaggy Yank who arrived in England just as the kids there were discovering the musical wealth across the pond. And let's add one more: the consummate singer, storyteller, and con man who let his recording career slide for a quarter century and then came back to it in the mid-90s as calmly as if he had plenty of quarter centuries to spare. If you're looking for a glimpse of "the old, weird America," well, this 72-year-old is one of the last of a breed and in a way he always has been; the sound track to The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack, Aiyana Elliott's affecting, warts-and-all biopic of her father, features adoring testimonials from both Johnny Cash and Bill Clinton. My father saw him at a high school auditorium in Floyd, Virginia, a few years back, and said he talked more than he played but no one minded a bit. By popular demand, a second show has been added, and at press time tickets were going fast. Saturday, September 6, 7 and 10 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln; 773-728-6000.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Chris Felver.

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