Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Ramblin' Jack Elliott born 1 August 1931

Ramblin' Jack Elliott (born Elliot Charles Adnopoz; August 1, 1931) is an American folk singer and performer. One of the last true links to the great folk traditions of this country, with over 40 albums under his belt, he is considered one of the country's legendary foundations of folk music. 

Elliott was born in 1931 in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Florence (Rieger) and Abraham Adnopoz. His family was Jewish. He attended Midwood High School in Brooklyn and graduated in 1949. Elliott grew up inspired by the rodeos at Madison Square Garden, and wanted to be a cowboy. Encouraged instead to follow his father's example and become a surgeon, Elliott rebelled, running away from home at the age of 15 to join Col. Jim Eskew's Rodeo, the only rodeo east of the Mississippi.

Jack & Woody
They travelled throughout the Mid-Atlantic states and New England. He was only with them for three months before his parents tracked him down and had him sent home, but Elliott was exposed to his first singing cowboy, Brahmer Rogers, a rodeo clown who played guitar and five-string banjo, sang songs, and recited poetry. Back home, Elliott taught himself guitar and started busking for a living. Eventually he got together with Woody Guthrie and stayed with him as an admirer and student.

With banjo player Derroll Adams, he toured the United Kingdom and Europe. By 1960, he had recorded three folk albums for the UK record label Topic Records. In London, he played small clubs and pubs by day and West End cabaret nightclubs at night. When he returned to the States, Elliott found he had become renowned in American folk music circles.

Woody Guthrie had the greatest influence on Elliott. Guthrie's son, Arlo, said that because of Woody's illness and early death, Arlo never really got to know him, but learned his father's songs and performing style from Elliott. Elliott's guitar and his mastery of Guthrie's material had a big impact on Bob Dylan when he lived in Minneapolis. When he reached New York, Dylan was sometimes referred to as the 'son' of Jack Elliott, because Elliott had a way of introducing Dylan's songs with the words: "Here's a song from my son, Bob Dylan."


Dylan rose to prominence as a songwriter; Elliott continued as an interpretative troubadour, bringing old songs to new audiences in his idiosyncratic manner. Elliott also influenced Phil Ochs, and played guitar and sang harmony on Ochs' song "Joe Hill" from the Tape from California album. 
Elliott also discovered singer-songwriter Guthrie Thomas in a bar in Northern California in 1973, bringing Thomas to Hollywood where Thomas' music career began.

Elliott appeared in Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue concert tour and played "Longheno de Castro" in Dylan's movie Renaldo and Clara accompanied by guitarist Arlen Roth. In the movie, he sings the song "South Coast" by Lillian Bos Ross and Sam Eskin, from whose lyric the character's name is derived.Elliott also appears briefly in the 1983 film Breathless, starring Richard Gere and directed by Jim McBride.

Elliott plays guitar in a traditional flat-picking style, which he matches with his laconic, humorous storytelling, often accompanying himself on harmonica. His singing has a strained, nasal quality which the young Bob Dylan emulated. His repertoire includes American traditional music from various genres, including country, blues, bluegrass and folk.

Elliott's nickname comes not from his travelling habits, but rather the countless stories he relates before answering the simplest of questions. Folk singer Odetta claimed that her mother gave him the name, remarking, "Oh, Jack Elliott, yeah, he can sure ramble on!"

Elliott's first recording in many years, South Coast, earned him his first Grammy Award in 1995. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1998.

At the age of 75, he changed labels and released I Stand Alone on the ANTI- label, with an assortment of guest backup players including members of WIlco, X, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The album was produced by Ian Brennan. Jack said his intention was to title the album Not for the Tourists, because it was recorded partially in response to his daughter's request for songs he loved but never played in concert. When asked why he did not, he told her, "These songs are not for the tourists."

Rambling Jack is still active at 87 years old and can be found on tour. (Info Wikipedia)


boppinbob said...

For “Ramblin' Jack Elliott Sings Woody Guthrie And Jimmie Rodgers & Cowboy Songs” go here:

1. "Do-Re-Mi" (Woody Guthrie) – 2:29
2. "Dead or Alive" (Lonnie Donegan, Guthrie) – 3:15
3. "Grand Coulee Dam" (Guthrie) – 2:38
4. "Dust Storm Disaster" (Guthrie) – 3:22
5. "I Ain't Got No Home" (Guthrie) – 2:14
6. "So Long (It's Been Good to Know Yuh)" (Guthrie) – 3:50
7. "T for Texas (Blue Yodel No. 1)" (Jimmie Rodgers) – 3:38
8. "Waiting for a Train" (Rodgers) – 2:27
9. "Jimmie the Kid" (Rodgers) – 2:25
10. "Mother, the Queen of My Heart" (Rodgers) – 3:04
11. "In the Jailhouse Now" (Rodgers) – 2:20
12. "Whippin' That Old T.B." (Rodgers) – 3:40
13. "Rusty Jiggs and Sandy Sam" – 2:53
14. "Get Along, Little Dogies" (Traditional) – 2:00
15. "Sadie Brown" (Jack Elliott) – 2:08
16. "Night Herding Song" (Traditional) – 2:42
17. "Chisholm Trail" (Traditional) – 2:12
18. "Fifteen Cents and a Dollar" – 2:45
19. "Rocky Mountain Belle" (Traditional) – 2:00
20. "Talking Blues" (Traditional) – 2:13
21. "Diamond Joe" (Traditional) – 3:17
22. "In the Willow Garden" – 3:15
23. "I Ride an Old Paint" (Traditional) – 2:15
24. "Jack O'Diamonds" – 2:22

A big thank you to Zero G Sounds blog for active link.

Writing for Allmusic, music critic Bruce Eder wrote of the reissue "These versions have a beguiling air of authenticity despite their being recorded long after the point they were written... Elliott covers at least three styles here, with little overlap; it's more than one hour of excellent material that's the equal of any of his various best-of compilations from different labels.”

David Federman said...

This is a glorious tribute to a glorious man. Your blog is top-notch in its writing and diversity. Please think about honoring Willard Robison on his birthdate. And thank you for every entry. You are a daily rite.

boppinbob said...

Hello David, I'll try my best but it's a bit of a wait.

Bob Mac said...

I missed him. He toured Australia in early 1970s as support act for Cat Stevens, but he wasn't advertised. I had little interest in Cat Stevens so didn't go see the concert in Perth. Then later friends of mine who saw the show said there was this folkie/cowboy wearing a cowboy hat and playing guitar & harp on a rack, and I found out it was Ramblin' Jack Elliot. And damn!!! I was mad I missed him. Had no idea he was in town and playing on that show. I could have seen a legend of American music perform.