Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dave Van Ronk: Twelve Gates To The City

Most people these days have never heard of Dave Van Ronk, but he had a profound effect upon the Greenwich Village folk music scene in the late 1950s and early 1960s. One artist that Van Ronk took under his wing was a young folksinger from Hibbing, Minnesota named Robert Zimmerman, but better known hereafter as Bob Dylan. Others he influenced included Joni Mitchell, Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot.

In 1959, Van Ronk became the first white artist to record Rev. Gary Davis’ “Twelve Gates of the City.” It appeared on his LP “Van Ronk Sings Ballads, Blues, and a Spiritual.” Since that time, others including his protégé Dylan recorded the song. Although not the original, it’s a very early cover of Davis’ gospel blues as our Spiritual Sunday song. Just Dave Van Ronk – vocal and guitar.

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