Review by Jon Bream
Folk legend Ramblin Jack Elliott lives up to his name at the Cedar
Jon Bream, Star Tribune, June 20, 2010 (original article at Star Tribune)
At a Ramblin Jack Elliott concert, you know you’re going to get a lot of between-song stories as well as songs that are stories. The folk-music legend did not disappoint on either front Saturday at the Cedar Cultural Center.
Elliott, 78, who is best known for tutoring Bob Dylan, Arlo Guthrie and Mick Jagger, told stories about hanging out with Dylan, working in the rodeo, performing in a winter storm in Bethlehem, Pa, watching his dog drive Jack’s truck (the singer has a sense of humor) and being at an open mic night in “U Nork Titty” as he called his hometown of NYC (“Peter and Paul were there; Mary was out shopping”). He also did talking impressions of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Dylan.
Here’s one of the Dylan stories: It was at a Newport Folk Festival and Jack and Bob were sitting in Bob’s blue Ford station wagon and Bob turned on the radio. They heard the Animals’ version of “House of the Rising Sun” and “at the same time, we said, ‘That’s my version.’” (Word in folk circles was that Dylan copped some of his stuff from Elliott.)
For the Cedar crowd, Elliott sang, among other things, “San Francisco Bay Blues,” “Can’t Be Satisfied,” “Nobody’s Darlin’ But Mine” and Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” (which, of course, was preceded by another Dylan story). His girlfriend, rockabilly singer Vikki Lee, dueted with him, as well. (Jack met her singing in a band with her cousin, guitar great Albert Lee.)
At one point during his 75-minute set, Elliott, a character who is sweet and funny, rightfully complained about the air conditioning (or lack thereof) and a stagehand brought him an electric fan onstage. He also chastised the crowd for taking photos of him. “I wanted to be a professional truckdriver; so when I see a redlight, I stop,” he warned. Hanging on his every word, the crowd obliged and put away their cameras.
The concert was opened by the Rolling Patches Revue, a parade of local musicians -- including Gretchen Seichrist, Paul Metsa, Larry Long, Gene LaFond, Kevin Odegard and Slim Dunlap -- singing tributes to Elliott.