One of the last authentic links to the great folk traditions of this country, with over 40 albums under his belt, two-time GRAMMY-winner Ramblin’ Jack Elliott is considered one of the country’s legendary foundations of folk music.
In the tradition of roving troubadours, Jack has carried the seeds and pollens of story and song for decades from one place to another, from one generation to the next. They are timeless songs that outlast whatever current musical fashion strikes today’s fancy. His tone of voice is sharp, focused, and piercing; he plays the guitar effortlessly in a fluid, flat-picking, perfected style. A brilliant entertainer among fellow folk musicians waiting for you to come to them, Jack came out and grabbed you. Bob Dylan called him, “The King of the Folksingers”.
There are no degrees of separation between Jack and the real thing. He is the guy who ran away from his Brooklyn home at age 14 to join the rodeo and learned his guitar from a cowboy. In 1950, he met Woody Guthrie, moved in with the Guthrie family, traveling with Woody to California and Florida. Jack became so enthralled with the life and composer of This Land Is Your Land, The Dust Bowl Ballads, and the wealth of children’s songs that he completely absorbed the inflections and mannerisms, leading Guthrie to remark, “Jack sounds more like me than I do.”
Along his journey, Jack learned the blues first-hand from Leadbelly, Mississippi John Hurt, the Reverend Gary Davis, Big Bill Broonzy, Brownie Mcghee and Sonny Terry, Jesse Fuller, and Champion Jack Dupree. He has recorded forty albums, wrote one of the first trucking songs, Cup of Coffee-recorded by Johnny Cash-and championed the works of singer-songwriters Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, Tim Hardin, and more. Jack became a founding member of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue and continued the life of the traveling troubadour, influencing Jerry Jeff Walker, Guy Clark, Tom Russell, The Grateful Dead, and countless others.
Though widely esteemed and recognized by many as a great American celebrity figure of Folk music, Jack resists becoming a commercial commodity. Ramblin’ Jack’s life of travels, performances, and recordings is a testament to the America of lore, a giant land of struggle, hard luck, and sometimes even of good fortune. The man Bob Weir calls a “hand-built, self-architectured American icon” takes us to places that spur the romance and passion of life in the tunes and voices of real people.
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