At 77, Ramblin' Jack Elliott is still up for firsts. After all, the musician, called "king of the folk singers" by Bob Dylan, didn't win his first Grammy until 1995 and was awarded the National Medal of Arts at the age of 68. Now his latest release, A Stranger Here, marks his first Billboard chart appearance, coming in at #5 on the Blues album chart and the album holds the top spot as the highest ranked current release (tied with Leonard Cohen's Live In London) on the review aggregator Metacritic.com
After a series of sold-out shows on the West coast, Ramblin' Jack is packing up his guitar and heading back east for a series of headlining appearances and a rare performance alongside the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Dave Mattews and John Mellencamp as the friends gather to honor the 90th birthday of that other living legend Pete Seeger at Madison Square Garden on May 3rd.
A Stranger Here, Ramblin' Jack's second for ANTI- Records, is a collection of Depression-era blues classics arranged and produced by Joe Henry (Solomon Burke, Elvis Costello/Allan Toussaint ). Featuring superstar players that range from David Hidaglo of Los Lobos fame on guitar to Van Dyke Parks on piano, A Stranger Here is uncannily prescient, as songs first written and recorded during the Great Depression resonate loudly in today's uncertain economic climate. But sung in the warm and weathered tones of Ramblin' Jack's generous voice, the songs are more compassionate than ominous, a gentle reminder that surviving hardships is just a matter of keeping one's head down and spirits up.
Ramblin' Jack Elliott on tour:
May 2 - Kent Stages, Kent OH
May 3 - Madison Square Garden, New York City NY
May 7 - Regatta Bar, Cambridge MA
May 13 - Highline Ballroom, New York City, NY
May 15 - The Turning Point, Piermont NY
May 17 - Sellersville Theater, Sellersville, Pa.
May 22 - The Arc, Ann Arbor , Michigan
See www.ramblinjack.com for more updates of shows weekly.