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June 4, 2014 @ 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Ramblin’ Jack Elliott – KXCI Presents!
Club Congress, 311 E. Congress Street, Tucson
The freewheeling, well-traveled singer is one of the final archetypal representatives of America’s underground folk tradition, a self-made wayfarer whose fifty-plus years of experience resonates the world over. The consummate song collector is an artist whose lifelong immersion in folk music enables him to provide a singular expansion of traditions. His Depression-era raising was redefined after seeing Gene Autry perform at a rodeo in Madison Square Garden; a combination of guitar and livestock that set him afire; Elliott chose the cowboy way at the age of 14, trading life at home for one on the rodeo circuit. By age twenty, Elliott’s rough-edged enthusiasm and musical instinct drew the attention of none other than the young singer’s avowed idol, Woody Guthrie, initiating a close, invaluable and life-long association. He has won 5 Grammy nominations, won 2 Grammy’s and received The National Medal of Arts for his contribution to Folk music from President Clinton in 2001.
Guthrie’s hobo-grooming completed Elliott’s transformation into latter-day troubadour, one whose love for a good song was equaled only by an abiding respect for his fellowman and a profound contempt for injustice. Along the way, he inspired an army of musicians: mentoring young Bob Dylan, (Dylan has called Jack “his long-lost father” and later featured Elliott on his notorious Rolling Thunder road show) and inadvertently firing up the British Invasion (Elliott’s “San Francisco Bay Blues” was one of the first songs Paul McCartney learned to play; Mick Jagger bought his first guitar after hearing Elliott busking on train platform in London), and influencing several generations of musicians, Lou Reed, Van Morrison, Mick Ronson, Kris Kristoffersen, Robbie Robertson, Bruce Springsteen and Beck. Elliott is, much as Frank Sinatra was, such a self-possessed voice that the dynamics and drive employed are consistently impressive.
Elliott’s ultimate role is almost journalistic: deciding what is important and what is not, always able to demonstrate that his acute sensibility and encyclopedic knowledge are still being brought to bear with conspicuous effect. His kaleidoscopic track record also brings additional dimension, an enhanced context that could only come from a performer as comfortable sharing stages with bluegrass royal Ralph Stanley as he was appearing with Manhattan rock & roll insurgents the Velvet Underground (Andy Warhol personally paid Elliott $75 for a two night stand). The mind-bending warp-and-woof of Elliott’s career–encompassing beatniks, the avant-garde, merry pranksters, unreconstructed mountain musicians, country balladeers, poets and rock stars–is in itself persuasive testimony on the substance of Elliott’s peerless natural instinct and progressive musical ear.