David Massengill Dave on Dave
- Released: September 25, 2007
- Label: Gadfly
- 1.Tell Old Bill
- 2.Candy Man Blues
- 3.House of the Rising Sun
- 4.Talkin' Dave Van Ronk Blues
- 5.Another Time and Place
- 6.Green, Green Rocky Road
- 7.The Old Man
- 8.Somebody Else Not Me
- 9.The Song of the Wandering Angus
- 10.My Good Old Friend
- 11.Long John
- 12.Dink's Song
- 13.Dave Van Ronk's Last Cigar
- 14.Zen Koans Gonna Rise Again
- 15.Honey Hair
- 16.He Was a Friend of Mine
- 17.In Conditional Support of Beauty
- 18.Last Call
Adapters: Dave Van Ronk; Eric Von Schmidt.
Tributee: Dave Van Ronk.
Personnel: David Massengill (vocals, guitar, dulcimer); David Massengill; Mark Dann (bass balalaika); Seth Farber (piano).
Audio Mixer: Mark Dann.
Recording information: Mark Dann Recording Studio, New York, NY.
Authors: David Massengill; Dave Van Ronk.
Photographer: Teddy Lee.
Arrangers: Dave Van Ronk; Eric Von Schmidt.
It often spells trouble when one artist is so smitten with another that he decides to pay tribute to his hero with an album's worth of songs crafted in the inspiration's image. David Massengill, a singer/songwriter with Tennessee roots who's spent his entire career as an integral part of the New York City neo-folk crowd, offers his nod to the late Dave Van Ronk with this 18-song set, and there's no trouble to be found: this is a tribute record that succeeds in doing what it sets out to do. Van Ronk was a larger than life figure on the Greenwich Village scene for decades -- his autobiography was titled The Mayor of MacDougal Street and no one's yet challenged that self-bestowed honorarium. There isn't an important '60s folkie who would deny Van Ronk's brilliance or importance -- Bob Dylan, for one, has openly acknowledged his debt. Dave on Dave finds Massengill, at fifty-something comparatively younger than the '60s cats, covering songs both written by Van Ronk or adapted by him, as well as offering a few original compositions that attempt to address Van Ronk's oversized personality and talent. In order to capture the essence of Van Ronk, a serious rasp would need to be employed, and Massengill delivers, though not so much so that he mimics; Massengill never tries to ape Van Ronk so much as embody what made him a force. Massengill also nails Van Ronk's homey, engaging vocal easiness. Translating Van Ronk's superb fingerpicking guitar technique to Massengill's primary instrument, the dulcimer, is a little trickier, but Massengill manages, and his own guitar work, though not as skilled as Van Ronk's, is impressive in its simplicity and melodicism. Massengill turns in spirited, loving interpretations of songs from the Van Ronk catalog, among them perennials like "Candy Man Blues" and "He Was a Friend of Mine" and relative obscurities such as "Zen Koans Gonna Rise Again" and "The Old Man." But the most touching tributes are the songs written by Massengill: "I know that when I see a falling star, it's just the ash of Dave Van Ronk's last cigar," he sings. You just know Dave Van Ronk would have loved that line. ~ Jeff Tamarkin
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