Saturday, June 24, 2006
Ramblin' Jack ElliottHe acquired a taste for ramblin' early on. At 9, Ramblin' Jack Elliott (born Elliott Charles Adnopoz) took in a Madison Square Garden rodeo, and he went back every year, until, at 15, he ran away from home and got a $2-a-day job as a groom with Colonel Jim Eskew's Rodeo. A cowboy taught him a few guitar chords, and a rodeo clown showed him how to play the banjo. By the time the kid returned home, the die was cast. Now, some six decades after his Colonel Eskew gig, Jack Elliott has rambled to every corner of the United States and most of Europe, singing songs and telling stories. In the 1950s, Woody Guthrie took Jack under his wing. The two traversed the country, while Jack absorbed Guthrie's repertoire, performing style and even his speaking mannerisms. After Woody's death in 1967, continued his wandering ways. He hung out with Jack Kerouac, who read him bits of his manuscript for On The Road; he played for Princess Margaret in England, and for folk fans at Greenwich Village's clubs like The Bitter End, Gerde's Folk City and The Gaslight. In the mid-'70s he toured with Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Review, playing small concert halls across the country. Over the years, Elliott has inspired musicians from Mick Jagger (who reportedly bought his first guitar after hearing Elliott busking on a train platform in London) and Paul McCartney to Lou Reed, Bruce Springsteen and Beck. South Coast, Elliott's 1996 album on Red House, won a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album. That year, he also received the prestigious Bill Graham Lifetime Achievement Award at the Bay Area Music Awards in San Francisco. In 1998, President Clinton presented Jack Elliott with the National Medal of Arts. His latest CD, I Stand Alone (Anti- Records), is scheduled for release in a few weeks. Ramblin' Jack Elliott continues to collect and pass on stories, expand his repertoire and gain new fans.
Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy (The Zozo Sisters)Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy sing together as The Zozo Sisters on their new Vanguard release, Adieu False Heart. (Zozo is Creole for "little bird.") The two first collaborated six years ago on a Grammy-nominated collection Ann produced called Evangeline Made (Vanguard). Adieu False Heart gave them a chance to work together again. It includes Creole French numbers like "Plus Tu Tournes" and the 1930s hit "Parlez-Moi d'Amour"; two Richard Thompson songs, "Burns' Supper" and "King of Bohemia"; Julie Miller's "I Can't Get Over You"; and the album's title song, "Adieu False Heart," a mid-19th-century traditional tune, popularized by Fiddlin' Arthur Smith. The first single is an exquisite rendition of the Left Banke's 1966 hit "Walk Away Renee."
Linda Ronstadt has sold more than 30 million albums and singles during her remarkable career, including the seven-times platinum Greatest Hits and the triple-platinum What's New and Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind. She has also won a total of 10 Grammys in various fields. Her post-rock career has seen her explore Gilbert & Sullivan operetta, American standards with Nelson Riddle and the Orchestra, Latin jazz, and the Mexican traditional music she heard and loved as a child in Tucson. But there were other strains of music in her house as she was growing up, like the Cajun music that came from the Acadian settlements in southwest Louisiana, broadcast by XERF in Del Rio, Texas, and Shreveport's KWKH, home of the Louisiana Hayride. "I used to listen to the radio under my pillow until two or three in the morning when I was just seven. People were singing about trees and grass and I'd look out of the window and see nothing but cactus and rock."
A native of Richmond, Virginia, Ann Savoy is a musician, author, record producer and photographer. She has recorded and traveled the world with the acclaimed Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band, the Magnolia Sisters, and the Savoy Family Band, which includes her sons, Joel and Wilson, and her husband, noted Acadian accordion player and maker Marc Savoy. She is the author of the Botkin Award-winning Cajun Music, A Reflection of a People (Bluebird), and she contributed to American Roots Music (Rolling Stone Press), the companion book to the four-part PBS series of the same name. In 1991, Ann and Marc Savoy were the subjects of a Les Blank film titled Marc and Ann. At present, Ann Savoy is working with T Bone Burnett as associate music producer for the Sony film All the King's Men. Ronstadt and Savoy hope to continue the Zozo Sisters' musical journey. Adieu False Heart is scheduled for release on July 25, 2006.
Prudence JohnsonPrudence Johnson's career in music has taken her from stage (honky-tonks to Carnegie Hall) to silver screen (Robert Redford's A River Runs Through It to Robert Altman's A Prairie Home Companion). As one music critic put it, "[There's] not a genre she hasn't interpreted with her ducky, sensual alto voice and terminally good taste." Her 10 album releases include Moon Country, featuring the music of Hoagy Carmichael, and 'S Gershwin with pianist Dan Chouinard. Collaborating with four Minnesota composers, she created A Girl Named Vincent, the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay set to music and scheduled for CD release. Prudence also appears on (and produced) a recording of Gales of November, the concert version of the play Ten November, chronicling the sinking of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald. The CD is on the Sleeper label.
John NiemannFiddler and mandolinist John Niemann started out playing electric bass in a high school rock 'n' roll band. Later he took up guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and mandocello. He was a member of Peter Ostroushko's quartet The Mando Boys, and he spent seven years with the Minnesota-based bluegrass group Stoney Lonesome.
Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).