Two months ahead of his long awaited Anti- Records debut, I Stand Alone, American folk icon Ramblin’ Jack Elliott has already captured the heart of U.K. folk aficionados. On the strength of his recent, stellar performance at All Tomorrow’s Parties, Elliott -- hand-picked by by ATP curator Devandra Banhart for the world famous event -- reaped scores of accolades for his May 14th appearance.
Writing about the folk legend last week, Time Out London’s Chris Parkin wrote, “[Jack] might not have [Bob] Dylan’s fortune but I bet Bob’s old pal is having a lot more fun.” Elsewhere, acclaim for Ramblin’ Jack’s Glasgow, Scotland gig found The Herald’s Rob Adams touting Elliott’s performance as “a moment to savour”.
If Bruce Springsteen’s recent recorded homage to Pete Seeger has become a gateway to American folk music’s past, the 75-year old Ramblin' Jack Elliott continues to look forward despite five decades of authenticity under his guitar strap. After all, it was the enduring Elliott (much like Springsteen’s tribute-subject Seeger) was mentored by and collaborated with folk music pioneer Woody Guthrie.
Among the live renditions of Elliott’s forthcoming material is a heartfelt tale of his very last road trip with Guthrie. Called “Woody’s Last Ride,” it’s just one in a number of moving entries on I Stand Alone, arguably the most poignant album in his storied career.
Elliott’s history as one of folk’s most enduring characters – the aforementioned Time Out dubbed him a “gruff, hobo folker” – has yielded approval from genre devotees of all ages. As a living link between Guthrie, Seeger, Dylan and artists like Lou Reed, Beck and The Grateful Dead (who he used to open for), Mr. Dylan himself has gone so far as to call Elliott his “long lost father.”
If avid supporter Banhart has been instrumental in turning a new generation of folk fans onto Jack, he isn’t the only young genre-loyalist. Elliott receives sparse accompaniment of artists like Flea, Lucinda Williams, Wilco’s Nels Cline, David Hidalgo, Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker and DJ Bonebrake on I Stand Alone.
On the heels of his U.K. success, Elliott – a Grammy winner (for 1996’s Southcoast) and a recipient of the 1999 National Medal of Arts from President Clinton – is slated to appear on a Fall 2006 installment of Mountain Stage. To be taped this July at the Paramount Theater in Bristol, California, the program will be shot in High Definition and distributed to over 100 public, college and commercial affiliates, XM Satellite Radio and worldwide via the Voice of America.
Ramblin’ Jack will also tour North America in the second-half of 2006 in support of I Stand Alone. Elliott has just confirmed two Los Angeles shows planned on August 4 at Tangier and August 5 at Largo. He will also be a featured act at The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, to be held in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park this October.