Dave Van Ronk (1936-2002) was one of the founding figures of the 1960s folk revival, but he was far more than that. A pioneer of modern acoustic blues, a fine songwriter and arranger, a powerful singer, and one of the most influential guitarists of the 1960s, he was also a marvelous storyteller, a peerless musical historian, and one of the most quotable figures on the Greenwich Village scene. Holding court in legendary venues like Gerde’s Folk City and the Gaslight Caf8E, Van Ronk’s influence was so great that a stretch of Sheridan Square — the heart of the Village — was renamed on June 30, 2004, and is now Dave Van Ronk Street.
The Mayor of MacDougal Street is a unique first-hand account by a major player in the social and musical history of the ’50s and ’60s. It features encounters with young stars-to-be like Bob Dylan (who survived much of his first year in New York sleeping on Van Ronk’s couch), Tom Paxton, Phil Ochs, Joan Baez, and Joni Mitchell, as well as older luminaries like Reverend Gary Davis, Woody Guthrie, Mississippi John Hurt, and Odetta.Colorful, hilarious, engaging, and a vivid evocation of a fascinating time and place, The Mayor of MacDougal Street will appeal not only to folk and blues fans but to anyone interested in the music, politics, and spirit of a revolutionary period in American culture.