Last month I was honored to be included in the Hot Tuna concert at New York's famed Beacon Theater, celebrating Jorma's big Seven-Oh. It was a star-studded musical evening and great fun to step out onto that glittering stage with Jorma, Jack Casady and a rockin' band. The packed, sell-out crowd was cheering from the first notes of Jorma's guitar, and they gave me, and all the other guests, their enthusiastic approval.
Back in the late ‘80s, Artie and I were playing an in-store CD release promotion at a Barnes and Noble in Albany while Bob was doing a sold-out concert at the Palace Theater. We hightailed it over there after our gig just in time to hear the last song, “Like a Rolling Stone.” Bob was already out of there long before the applause died out, but Victor Maimudes, Bob’s long-time road manager, spotted us and invited us to come down to West Point, where Bob was playing the next night. He graciously gave us backstage passes along with great seats for us and our family, and suggested we come to sound check to say hello to Bob.
FOUR STRONG WINDS: DAVE VAN RONK LIVE IN MONTERREY
I don't know where I'd be today if it wasn't for Pete Seeger. I’m pretty sure I wouldn't have started singing folk songs or playing the guitar and banjo, and there certainly would not have been a lifetime of writing, performing, traveling, teaching and innumerable musical adventures. I might not have even met Jane, whom I originally encountered through folk music and who has shared my life for more than half a century. I owe it all to Pete.
I made my first foray into the exotic streets of Greenwich Village one poignant and unforgettable summer night in 1954. Sixteen, Bronx-bred and a junior counsellor at a summer camp in Connecticut, I had started learning the guitar some months before and was getting reasonably good at it. Some of the older counsellors had also discovered folk music, and I became the kid who could accompany them when they sang songs around the campfire or in the mess hall after the dishes were cleared away. These more mature college students (they were probably 18 or 19) were smart, rebellious proto-beatniks from Brandeis University, into poetry, politics, foreign films and “Catcher in the Rye.” I idolized them and longed for their acceptance; I suspect they made me into a mascot of sorts.