Mudcat Café message #1480147 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #80987   Message #1480147
Posted By: Jerry Rasmussen
07-May-05 - 03:19 PM
Thread Name: Dave Van Ronk book
Subject: RE: Dave Van Ronk book

From what I remember, the lessons were either $5 or $10 for a half hour session, which always ran closer to an hour. Hard to compare to today's money.

I took lessons from Dave for about three months. I wanted to learn to finger pick... not blues, necessarily. Dave taught me basic picking patterns with tablature (which I still have kicking around here somewhere) beginning with more of a Travis picking style. I learned You'e A Good Old Wagon, Daddy But You Done Broke Down, and several of the earliest songs he recorded. Once I had a good grasp of finger picking, including Mississippi John Hurt's style, Dave gave me a few lessons on a blues style without an alternating bass. When I asked for lessons, I made it clear up front that I didn't want to play blues, and that was fine with him. He had a good grasp of all styles of picking and was an excellent teacher.

The few blues chops he showed me kinda kicked around in my mind over the years, and there were always a small number of country blues songs I did (none of which I learned from Dave.) When I started a gospel quartet, doing old black gospel music, the blues licks that Dave had showed me so many years ago turned out to be invaluable. Perhaps the most important thing he taught me was not to be intimidated or feel limited by what a guitar can do. Like all good teacher's, Dave wasn't interested in creating Dave Clones. He encouraged me to develop my own style. I think he would have gotten a kick out of my guitar style with black gospel music. He could hear faint traces of those lessons he taught me forty years ago, and would appreciate breaking up the rhythm and using the guitar to support the vocal, not the other way around.

Dave was also the person who finally encouraged me to play in public for the first time at a hootenanny at the Gaslight Cafe. I thought that I stunk, and I probably did, but he was very complimentary. Maybe that was in part because the more songs I'd get up do, the more time he could spend up in the Kettle Of Fish drinking...