DAVE VAN RONK

If anyone ever asks you just what you mean by “whiskey voiced,” play them a Dave Van Ronk record–whether he’s growling out a ribald blues anthem or purring a love song, Van Ronk’s voice paints an aural portrait of the prototypical hard-traveling busker. Like a lot of folkies from the 50s and 60s, Van Ronk began his career as a purist, specializing in pristine fingerpicking, earnest balladry, and a world-weary bluesiness that he managed to make convincing despite his youth. Yet he’s never functioned strictly as a revivalist: he can make even the most overcooked chestnuts sound like tales from his own life. His current CD, From…Another Time & Place (Alcazar), includes everything from rollicking versions of traditional southern blues standards to sublime originals like the intimate and tender “Honey Hair”–a love ballad that Van Ronk elevates to rare eloquence with his classical-tinged chording. He even manages to bring new life to “Hoochie Coochie Man,” arguably the tiredest of all modern blues warhorses, not to mention “He Was a Friend of Mine,” a tune he learned from Bob Dylan that has become something of a theme song over the years. Sunday, 7 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 909 W. Armitage; 773-525-7793. DAVID WHITEIS

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Marc Norberg.