Down in Washington Square: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection
Known as "The Mayor of MacDougal Street," Dave Van Ronk was an early performer at emerging folk clubs in the late '50s and early ’60s in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Initially influenced by jazz music, he quickly assimilated Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music. This extensive career-long 54-track survey features work ranging from Van Ronk's live recordings from 1958 (the year before his first Folkways album) to a full concert set from a 1997 Smithsonian show and his final studio recordings in 2001, just months before his death. His large repertoire and wide range of styles were the product of a dedicated folk musician who never chased the rock or pop worlds around him. His influence on young Bob Dylan was as close as Van Ronk came to mainstream attention. However, for lovers of traditional song, old folk, blues, and sea shanties, he played it tough and authentic, with a rough-hewn voice that defined the earthy folk singer. This exemplary collection covers his entire career.