In lieu of seeing the movie, I am reading the book by Van Ronk on which the movie is based, “The Mayor of MacDougal Street.” It is very entertaining to say the least. I never made it to Greenwich Village in those days, although I did go a few times later in the 1960s. I did however catch many of the greats at the Newport Folk Festival in 1964, ’65, ’68 and ’69. It was a magical time. Most of the great bluesmen are now long gone unfortunately but I feel privileged to have listened to them up close, something that was encouraged at the workshops at Newport in those days. In any case, I highly, highly recommend the book if you have interest in those days and how they affected what we hear in acoustic music right up to the present day.
On a much smaller scale, I am encouraged to continue getting students both young and old who are enamored with the acoustic guitar. While I do teach electric styles (having played electric blues, rock and jazz for many years) I make no bones about acoustic guitar being my first love and my specialty. A continuing trend I’m seeing is new/older students who played in their younger days and are interested in picking up the guitar again as their situation, interests and commitment are quite different than in their younger days. I love it when these types of students see real progress on things they found frustrating when they were younger. It’s also fun to turn them on to recent acoustic music; in many cases they all but stopped listening to new music years ago due to not being able to relate to the over-produced and superficial nature of much of what is heard on the radio these days. There is some fine music being made by younger players right now. In fact, it feels to me like we are in something of a renaissance in acoustic guitar music. Younger musicians like Sarah Jarosz and the Milk Carton Kids are making fantastic music that combines traditional instrumentation with a very modern sense of harmony, arrangement and structure.
So if you get a chance, see “Inside Llewyn Davis” and maybe we’ll be able to compare notes (no pun intended!) if it EVER gets to Cape Cod!
Peace & good music,