Mudcat Café message #1481255 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #80987   Message #1481255
Posted By: Jerry Rasmussen
09-May-05 - 10:23 PM
Thread Name: Dave Van Ronk book
Subject: RE: Dave Van Ronk book
As for transposing... yes, Dave would give me songs in one key and ask me to work them out in another. Interestingly, looking back, Dave didn't use bar chords much (I don't remember him using them at all.) Suited me fine, as I never have, either. That's why God gave us opposable thumbs.

I've ordered the book, and am looking forward to reading it. I've been cruising through another book that really captures the feeling of those days, Hoot: A 25-Year History Of The Greenwich Village Music Scene by Robbie Woliver, published by St. Martin's Press.

What was it like in the Village in those days? I swear the copys could pull you over for suspicious behavior if you weren't carrying a guitar case. When I came there in 1960, everything was still very low key. Dave had recorded one album on Folkways, and most of the musicians I heard were just getting started. Tom Paxton recorded his first album on the Gaslight label (put out by the Gaslight Cafe) Peter LaFarge was just starting to record, Peter, Paul and Mary, The Loving Spoonful and the Even Dozen Jug Band weren't even ideas yet. Pete Stampfel and Steve Weber were playing all the small coffee houses.. even the pass the hat places. Reverend Gary Davis played the pass the hat hole in the wall places, and I saw him break down and cry of stage more than once, because someone had stolen his big Gibson guitar. Around 1962, everything started changing. Much of it was because recording companies were starting to realize they could make a few bucks off folk music. There was a real buzz in the air, as people started to get signed to recording contracts. Ken Goldstein was checking out the open mike nights and coffee houses and signing people, and when Dylan arrived, and then got signed to Columbia, the excitement was beyond control. As a friend of mine said to me, after he'd been signed to a now-defunct new label, "They oughta record you. There are people worse than you who are being recorded." Somehow, I didn't find that comforting.

I remember going down into the Gaslight Cafe one evening when Peter LaFarge was playing there and I'd talked to him casually a few times. He said, "you'd better start writing songs. That's what people are looking for." And he was right, of course. Meanwhile, I was trying to sound like a scratchy old 78 rpm, singing in my most irritating nasal, no-vibrato old fogie voice.

Mostly, everyone seemed genuinely excited about everyone else, and I saw very little jealousy. I don't think that I am glorifying those days out of nostalgia. I see that same attitude on Mudcat from 95% of the Catters..

I could go on and on, but others have done it far better than me.