Dave Van Ronk in Concert at the Bottom Line June 2, 2001 DVD
Few folk or blues enthusiasts need to be introduced to Dave Van Ronk, the extraordinary singer and guitarist. His name is inextricably linked, first and foremost, to the folk music scene in New York City's Greenwich Village in the 1960s. He played with and knew virtually everyone of musical significance in that decade. Familiarly known as "The Mayor of MacDougal Street," Van Ronk presided over an apartment that served as hangout pad/salon to peers like Bob Dylan, Odetta, Tom Paxton and Peter Yarrow, and a virtual graduate school to the next generation of guitarists, some of whom, like Christine Lavin, achieved broad popularity in their own right. Dave Van Ronk played the sort of music he liked, with small regard for the boundaries that normally separate jazz and blues and country and folk. He proved in practice that those distinctions don't mean very much. His performances were stripped down to the essentials: emotional and musical honesty. He was a unique individual and musical figure. An engaging raconteur and gourmet cook, he enjoyed sipping wine and spinning philosophical tales and aphorisms deep into the night. "Honesty is the cruelest game of all," he once observed, "Because not only can you hurt someone -- and hurt them to the bone -- you can feel self-righteous about it at the same time." In the Spring of 2001 Dave asked Stefan Grossman to organize the filming of his New York City Bottom Line performance. Eight months later Dave passed away. He was sixty-five years old.