FOLK SINGERS DAVE VAN RONK AND ERIC FRANDSEN SEATED AT CORNELIUS STREET CAFE IN GREENWICH VILLAGE TALKING ABOUT THE CIRCA 1982 " FOLK REVIVAL " AND FOLK COOP AT SPEAKEASY ON MACDOUGAL STREET
Eric Frandsen 0:03
We were playing the Lion's Share together
Dave Van Ronk 0:05
That's puts a rather fine point on it
Eric Frandsen 0:07
We had met a few times before that but that was the first time we worked together and you know I knew who you were. I'd heard his records.
Dave Van Ronk 0:17
Jesus, What was that 1968 or 1969?
Eric Frandsen 0:22
8. The Lion Share burned down at the end of the year. we came back to New York. With steady gigs. Ashes
Dave Van Ronk 0:32
I always suspected that fire was of suspicious origin. I don't think Mike torched it himself, I think his neighbors did. Yes.
Eric Frandsen 0:42
He did open up a new one. A modernized club in another town under another name.He
What were some of the other places around that area that you guys would work. I mean, we were living in California at the time, Dave.
Eric Frandsen 0:56
No, but I was.
Dave Van Ronk 0:56
I never lived really lived anywhere in my life but New York. I traveled an awful lot. At that time we were out in California I was I was probably out in the Bay Area for close to 11 months. That and LA. Jesus, there were a lot of places around there and '68 was probably the peak year as far as number of clubs and that sort of thing. And that whole revival business.
What were some of the places you were working at?
Dave Van Ronk 1:27
Did you ever work the New Orleans house in Berkeley?
Eric Frandsen 1:30
No, I worked Freight & Salvage
Dave Van Ronk 1:32
Freight & Salvage. That came later. New Orleans house was preety nice. A lady named Kitty ran it. Really nice woman.
Eric Frandsen 1:37
Dave Van Ronk 1:37
The jabberwock, oh jeeze.
Eric Frandsen 1:39
Yes. I worked there.
Dave Van Ronk 1:42
Coffee gallery in North Beach. Pit! It's still there, still a pit
Eric Frandsen 1:49
Great background music for the knife fights. Well it was painted black inside.
That's the New Orleans House wasn't that the place that that first Hot Tuna album was done. The New Orleans House.
Eric Frandsen 2:03
Yeah. Will Scarlett and that bunch. Cleanliness is next to Godliness Skiffle Band. Annie Johnson.
Dave Van Ronk 2:16
That was a pretty nice scene out there. First time I ever went out to California to do anything like like sing. I got out there in 1959. It was nothing. Absolutely nothing. I had a kid waiting for me at Hermosa Beach. All I had to do was stick out my thumb. And for me at that time it was an incredibly good paying job. You know that San Francisco syndrome you know you just sort of sit around. You do a little dope, you drink a little wine sit on the floor, maybe play a little poker some thing like that. and nobody ever gets anything done.
Eric Frandsen 2:59
Everybody's going to do something
Dave Van Ronk 3:01
I couldn't get out of the I was I was just paralyzed pleasant. Three, four weeks. It's a very seductive scene.
Eric Frandsen 3:10
Yeah, I I stopped for three months and stayed three years.
Was that how long you were out there?
Eric Frandsen 3:17
Yes, San Francisco State my my Alma mother,
Dave Van Ronk 3:23
We call the golden the golden. President higher power
Eric Frandsen 3:28
Higher power had not yet been enshrined ensconced in the presidency yet he was still teaching semantics and coming out with one liners for television television interviewers. And he surpassed himself in the Senate
Around, uh, '68 At the same time, by the time that you guys first got together, what were the places you were playing on the East Coast? particularly what was around that was specifically for folk music.
Dave Van Ronk 4:06
For me it was always the Gaslight and it was what other rooms the the owners didn't have an exclusive or anything like that. The Gaslight was the place you wanted to play because that's where you were more likely to be seen the place that acquired quite a reputation as a as a hangout for musicians place to go and see your favorite folk singer they fall down on his face. But it was been around around the corner was folk city. Always folk city
Eric Frandsen 4:47
and then there was the Cafe Au Gogo. And that was the that was the creepiest room. Eddie Simon. Well Eddie Simon took it over later.
Dave Van Ronk 5:00
The guy started. Oh, marvelous man. Oh, his name will pop into my head when the interview is over, oh, Howie? It was wonderful the way he'd run people out of that room. He was a little guy. And he was like a small Panzer Division. But he rolled into action. It was truly a delight to watch him.
I understand that MikeCorco's brother if of the same breed in terms of running.
Eric Frandsen 5:42
Yes, John, John Keel. And of course Guido and his crime was Guido Guido sometimes made a phone call, but he I saw him was still at the age of 75. I saw him pick people up twice thand say, hey through thevswinging doors.
Dave Van Ronk 5:59
Very, very smooth motion. Well, practice command.
Was uh, you think in terms of what was going on with all the people, like a lot of the people that are flocking to the speakeasy on Monday night.
Eric Frandsen 6:17
Flocking to the speakeasy on a Monday night.
Dave Van Ronk 6:20
That's a hell of a small flock.
People that are, you know, the singers. In terms of the musicians, you think you think things have changed in 20 years? Now? I mean, you think the same things, same amount of performers are?
Dave Van Ronk 6:45
Well, there aren't as many because there just isn't, there aren't sufficient niches. For as many folk singers, as we're around say at 68.
Eric Frandsen 6:57
The pay scale, however, is exactly the same. The money is worth less.
Dave Van Ronk 7:01
Yes. Yeah, we are making exactly the same amount of money, we made 1968. And you go and try to take a pee on that. Well, it was another thing. What I call revival one.
Eric Frandsen 7:17
The great folks scare of the 60's.
Dave Van Ronk 7:19
The great folk scare of the 60's An awful lot of people were attracted to folk music, who normally wouldn't have been. there are a lot of singers around singing folk music, who were not really folk singers by any way shape or stretch of the imagination. They were attracted into the field because that's where the work was. And they learned how to do some folk songs, that sort of thing. And they came and became, by functional definition, musicians, but in no in the sense that you have folk singers now, in the sense of most of the singers were in those days, they weren't. Jose Feliciano, classic case in point. Jose got into folk music, because that's where the gigs were on someone who's quite capable of playing jazz or classical or whatever, when he did start to be able to write his own ticket, it didn't say fold music on it. A lot of people like that, who didn't do nearly as well as Jose did.
At speakeasy. And I guess with the folks music also with the fact that there's open mike and people are flocking,do you think, particularly with the co-ops (video seems to cut out and back quickly)
Dave Van Ronk 8:27
the thing that it does in most really isn't offers, people who are who are starting on their careers. A career in this in this field, it's not an easy thing to hack out these days. There aren't that many places to work, it gives people a chance to get on the stage and actually perform and hone their skills such as there may be it's a form for singers, and as such, it's performing a function nothing had been performing in in the city for 10 to 15 years.
Eric Frandsen 9:07
Dave was saying the other day there, there are people around who are pushing 30 who don't have the stage time that we had 1920
Dave Van Ronk 9:15
Yeah. Can't get it.
Eric Frandsen 9:18
No place to do it.
Dave Van Ronk 9:19
So consequently, we're getting a lot of late bloomers,
Eric Frandsen 9:22
all those places where Dave broke in, and then I broke in some years after that, and then they folded, and there's no place else to play. except your living room, which is not very good for you because it's not a stage.
Dave Van Ronk 9:32
You can't practice. You can't practice performing without an audience. You can practice your guitar. You can practice your singing, but you can't practice performing. You gotta have people there to bounce off. And that's, that's what the speakeasy does, I think probably the most important thing that it does. It's developing people.
The fact that anyone can come on practically on the open mic night. Whether it be a juggler with a bowling ball.
Dave Van Ronk 10:00
Yeah, what difference does it make. That's an open stage and that's the way it should be.
Eric Frandsen 10:08
Burgie! With his Yomiuri Giants hat, come on in.
Dave Van Ronk 10:13
I don't think we should have him sit in, do you? (video cuts out and back in)
Dave Van Ronk 10:13
Boy, I always wanted to go to South America. Oh God, too I've lost down there you remember, oh no, it was before your time.
Let's talk a little bit about the the album in the magazine, what what are you contributing, or we could just talk about it, what is it?
Eric Frandsen 10:42
our, our so called good names and professional reputation?
Dave Van Ronk 10:47
Well I have written a couple of quibs, a little general introduction into the work life and times of Dave Dassengill that I turned into a small review on on Hootenanny Hoot. When you screened it down there last week, and that sort of thing I made I did one cut on the first album, I suppose I'll be doing some more, I have no objection to it.
What was that?
Dave Van Ronk 11:21
Garden State Stumped, which they misprinted on the label, dumbbells,
What is this magazine Album? And what's the whole concept behind it? How was it produced?
Dave Van Ronk 11:31
Well, you didn't really have to talk to Jack about that.
Eric Frandsen 11:34
Really talk to Jack.
Dave Van Ronk 11:35
It's Jack's baby. Without Jack, that thing does would not exist. He is the moving force there.
But as a person
Eric Frandsen 11:45
Providing the I am well, to bring out the mag every month.
So it comes out every month
Dave Van Ronk 11:52
Dave Van Ronk 11:52
Oh, yeah. It's been incredibly punctual. For a bunch of Damn, folk singer, it's unbelievable. How much actually gets done. The magazine, the record, the club, all that kind of thing. When you get right down to the key to the to the whole situation. One thing that makes a big difference is Jack Hardy
Eric Frandsen 12:17
yes, in spite of all that he still finds time to enjoy himself.
Dave Van Ronk 12:23
No he doesn't
Eric Frandsen 12:24
Which is a good thing because nobody else does.
Have you been on the record?
Eric Frandsen 12:30
Yeah. I did the Howard. How did the Howard Hughes blues I did Macpherson's farewell, it's it's brilliant.
Dave Van Ronk 12:42
You do some backup.
Eric Frandsen 12:44
Oh, I played guitar for David Massengil one time. Yeah. The road to Fairfax County.
Dave Van Ronk 12:52
Eric Frandsen 12:54
Thank you, Dave. I liked your version of the Garden State stomp also.
Dave Van Ronk 13:01
Dave, um, going back to the old shed again. What were some, a very typical interviewer question, What were some of your earliest influences in terms of sort of stuff that you're copying or trying to be like when you first start off?
Dave Van Ronk 13:25
Well, in traditional blues and that sort of thing to begin with practically not body because I heard a lot of jazz before I really got involved in country blues or in that sort of thing. So I suppose you'd have to start with people like Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong. Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith. Like that. Little later on, I started to get old 78's and I think you wouldn't remember the jazz record center. it's up on 46th street, a walk up and they had a big sign outside is said "everything from bunk to monk." And you go in there you go through the stacks and you're looking for Johnny Dodd's Black Bottom Stompers. come on and STOMP STOMP STOMP or something like that you run across something a blues by somebody named Furry Lewis. What can you lose for 25 cents? What the hell are you bringing home and that's basically how it happened. and then I started listening to Furry Lewis and Lead Belly and the more you become interested in it, the more you learn each thing you know, like Musashi says from one thing learn 10,000
Talk about Lead Belly for a couple a minutes
Eric Frandsen 14:44
Nice fellow, close personal friend of Dave's.
Dave Van Ronk 14:48
I never saw the man. He died in '49.
Are there any particular recordings, alright by Lead belly or any of these earlier people that you could note as being a big influence on you. When you heard it, and just played it over and over and over like something that remains with you.
Dave Van Ronk 15:04
Oh dozens and dozens of...Lead Belly
Eric Frandsen 15:09
Dave Van Ronk 15:11
Fannin Street I might as well I might have no way I could learn anything from that. The right hand on that is just totally beyond me. But things like Leaving Blues for the first time and maybe 10 years I did Whoa, Back Buck, the night before last and that was one of his tunes. It's really stuck with me. Because of things I just, I could go on and on and on with with Lead Belly to Josh White. Josh, I did get to know and I did get to hear many times. I loved I loved his touch on the guitar and deciduous or imitating as best I could. And every now and again, I'll be playing something that the arrangement of my own and I just sort of mentally stepped back for a second. Oh, whoa, whoa, whoa, there's the Josh White influence Yes, it's still there.
Any particular recordings by Josh White
Dave Van Ronk 16:08
There's deck album he did. Outskirts of Town. God, could he do it. I ran into Don McClean one time a few years ago. we sitting around a dressing room. Both of us trying to do a note for note on outskirts of town, Josh's guitar range. he got closer than I did. Donny Josh Jr. has it quite well
We just got bumped by this guy. We're supposed to play the town crier a couple of weeks. And there was some sort of mistake we got all the way up there and saw that Josh White Jr. The voice. You Don't even try.
Dave Van Ronk 16:49
No, there's no point in trying to do too. Why should I be a secondary Jelly Roll. There was already a first rate one. But I learned a lot about phrasing from listening to that man saying those Library of Congress things and he made a whole lot of city. Boy, I absorbed everything I could from. I still think that my interest in jazz has served me better in terms of musical development than anything that I've learned from so called traditional folk blues. Is that kind of approach is essentially as a singer is essentially a jazz approach. I'll never shake that and I don't want to
what about Eric, what sort of stuff are you listening to? I mean, way back when? I mean, I can I can ask you the same
Eric Frandsen 17:43
Homer and Jethro. Gilbert and Sullivan. Stan Freeburg. Big Bill Broonzy.
Dave Van Ronk 17:54
Did I ever tell you I ran into Jethro burns?
Eric Frandsen 17:58
How fast were you go?
Dave Van Ronk 17:59
Oh what a marvelous man
Eric Frandsen 18:02
Oh, he was amazing.
Dave Van Ronk 18:04
Yeah, we were in again in a dressing room.I said, after we had exchanged pleasantries, and I said, you know something. I've always wanted to be alone in the same room with a man who wrote I've got tears in my ears from lying on my back in my bed while I cried over you. And he said, What are you going to do? I'm going to make you sing the release with me in harmony. And we did. One of the high points of my career.
Eric Frandsen 18:38
Yep. Homer Jethro, their version of Pol Yat Chee. And of course, Spike Jones. I had Spike Jones records when I was a little kid.
Der Fuehrer's face. I liked the Hawaiian one
Eric Frandsen 18:50
The Hawaiian War Chant as the sun pulls away from the shore and our boat sinks slowly in the West. Wonderful stuff.
Dave Van Ronk 18:58
I had that. I got a 2-3 record set in the mail.
Eric Frandsen 19:02
Patrick Chamberlain broke mine. I had a 78 of it.
Dave Van Ronk 19:07
Come over, come over and tape mine any time you want.
Do you think a lot of the people, the newer people that are playing you think they're getting the same sort of stuff. Do you think? I mean, do you think that that sort of influence I mean, you are getting it like second generation with Homer Jethro, for you probably even further back and Joe.
Dave Van Ronk 19:33
I always feel kind of sorry for people who are learning from me. Yeah, I really think that.
Eric Frandsen 19:38
Me too. I've always felt sorry for people who learn from Dave. Well, let's say you put on a record.
Dave Van Ronk 19:44
no body will ever learn anything from you
Eric Frandsen 19:47
Okay, w're even. you put out a record of Reverend Gary Davis for these kids. And he says, who's that old nigger trying to sound like you Jorma (Jorma Kaukonen). I mean, Jorma's a great player, but He admits it he plays Gary Davis licks constantly and plays them well.
Dave Van Ronk 20:08
there is the the primary source and some of that gets filtered out some of does. It is really amazing 10 years ago it was the very height of the folk boom and all that sort of thing this wasn't true but it's true now East overshoot Montana or someplace like that. You can have have some local guy on the bill. He can really play and really sing and really knows his way around the instrument and knows something at the classical repertoire and that wasn't anything like true 68. So it's not, it aint so bad. It aint so shabby. Every now and again, you get one of those opening acts Suppose you have the stage right?
Eric Frandsen 20:54
An blows you off the stage.
Dave Van Ronk 20:55
Eric Frandsen 20:56
Dave Van Ronk 21:03
who is that guy?
Description: RAW FOOTAGE FROM UNRELEASED 1982 INTERVIEW ON "THE COOP", THE FOLK MUSIC COOPERATIVE IN NEW YORK'S GREENWICH VILLAGE AND PART OF THE 1980s SHORT LIVED FOLK MUSIC REVIVAL. BASED AT THE SPEAKEASY NIGHTCLUB IN GREENWICH VILLAGE. INTERVIEW CONDUCTED IN JUNE 1982 WITH FOLK MUSIC LEGEND DAVE VAN RONK & ERIC FRANDSEN. CONDUCTED AT THE CORNELIUS STREET CAFE WHICH WAS A CAFE UTILIZED FOR NEW SONG SHOWCASES BY MEMBERS OF THE COOP.
Keywords: cohen brothers
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