Dave Van Ronk

Down in Washington Square: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection

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The very template of the urban folk singer in the late '50s and early '60s, Dave Van Ronk was born and grew up in Brooklyn, learning to play ukulele, banjo, and guitar at an early age. Initially drawn to jazz, he was influenced, like so many others, by Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music, and began spending time at the famous impromptu Washington Square Park folk jam sessions. He developed a gruff, bluesy, intelligent, and authentic-sounding urban folk style that made him the Dean of New York's folk singers. This three-disc set spans Van Ronk's career, beginning with early live recordings he made in 1958 in advance of his first Folkways album, through his final studio recordings in 2001 just months before his death.

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