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Dave Van Ronk: And the Tin Pan Bended, and the Story Ended

It’s impossible to imagine a more fitting adieu to folk troubadour and raconteur Dave Van Ronk than Smithsonian Folkways’ …And the Tin Pan Bended, and the Story Ended. This 85-minute concert, his last, captured in Adelphi, Md, on October 22, 2001-just a month prior to his surgery for colon cancer and less than four months before his death, at age 65-is split almost equally between vintage Van Ronk yarns and covers ranging from Jimmie Cox’s “Nobody Knows You (When You’re Down and Out)” and Josh White’s “Sometime (Whatcha Gonna Do)” to Dylan’s “Buckets of Rain.” Together they form a marvelous oral history of American folk while capturing the “Mayor of McDougal Street” (for whom one side of Greenwich Village’s Sheridan Square has now been named) at his most engaging. Van Ronk joyfully recalls learning “St. James Infirmary” from the Fireside Book of Folk Songs in Shaker Heights at age 12, hanging out in Village coffee houses with Ginsberg, Bob Kaufman and the rest of the beat poets, being taken under the wing of New Orleans pianist Clarence Brown and recounts the entire 150-year history of “One Meatball.” There is, as always, a single encore. Here, fittingly, it is Joni Mitchell’s “Urge for Going.”

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