CANCELED: Boothbay Harbor Opera House: Ramblin’ Jack Elliott

    One of the last true links to the great folk traditions in the United States, with over 40 albums under his belt, Ramblin' Jack Elliott is considered one of the country's legendary foundations of folk music. On Friday, July 30, Ramblin’ Jack will take to the historic Opera House stage in Boothbay Harbor.

    Long before every kid in America wanted to play guitar — before Elvis, Dylan, the Beatles or Led Zeppelin — Ramblin' Jack had picked it up and was passing it along. From Johnny Cash to Tom Waits, Beck to Bonnie Raitt, Ry Cooder to Bruce Springsteen, The Grateful Dead to The Rolling Stones, they all pay homage to Ramblin' Jack Elliott. In the tradition of roving troubadours Jack has carried the seeds and pollens of story and song for decades from one place to another, from one generation to the next. His tone of voice is sharp, focused and piercing. All that and he plays the guitar effortlessly in a fluid flat-picking perfected style.

    There are no degrees of separation between Jack and the real thing. He is the guy who ran away from his Brooklyn home at 14 to join the rodeo and learned his guitar from a cowboy. In 1950, he met Woody Guthrie, moved in with the Guthrie family and traveled with Woody to California and Florida, from the redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters. Jack became so enthralled with the life and composer of “This Land Is Your Land,” The Dust Bowl Ballads, and a wealth of children's songs, that he completely absorbed the inflections and mannerisms, leading Guthrie to remark, "Jack sounds more like me than I do."

    In 1955 Jack traveled to Europe, bringing his genuine American folk, cowboy and blues repertoire and his guitar virtuosity, inspiring a new generation of budding British rockers, from Mick Jagger to Eric Clapton. When he returned to America in 1961, he met another young folksinger, Bob Dylan at Woody Guthrie's bedside, and mentored Bob.

    Jack has continued as an inspiration for every roots-inspired performer since. Along the way he learned the blues first-hand from Leadbelly, Mississippi John Hurt, the Reverend Gary Davis, Big Bill Broonzy, Brownie Mcghee and Sonny Terry, Jesse Fuller, and Champion Jack Dupree.

    He has recorded 40 albums; wrote one of the first trucking songs, “Cup of Coffee,” recorded by Johnny Cash; championed the works of new singer-songwriters, from Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson to Tim Hardin; became a founding member of Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue; and continued the life of the traveling troubadour influencing Jerry Jeff Walker, Guy Clark, Tom Russell, The Grateful Dead, and countless others.

    In 1995, Ramblin' Jack received his first of four Grammy nominations and the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album, for “South Coast.”  In 1998, President Bill Clinton awarded Jack the National Medal of the Arts, proclaiming, "In giving new life to our most valuable musical traditions, Ramblin' Jack has himself become an American treasure."

    Ramblin' Jack's life of travels, performances and recordings is a testament to the America of lore, a giant land of struggle, hard luck and sometimes even of good fortune. As he approaches his 90th birthday Ramblin' Jack is still on the road, still seeking those people, places, songs and stories that are hand-crafted, wreaking of wood and canvas, cowhide and forged metal. You'll find him in the sleek lines of a long haul semi-truck, in the rigging of an old sailing ship, in the smell of a fine leather saddle.

    The concert is sponsored by Nathaniel Wilson Sailmakers, of East Boothbay.

    Advance discounted tickets are $30 and are on sale through the box office at 86 Townsend Ave., or by calling 207-633-5159. Regular tickets are $35 and are available online at boothbayoperahouse.com, and on the day of the show at the door.

    Stories and music begin at 7:30 p.m., doors for seating open at 7. The historic bar at the Opera House opens at 6:30 pm. All audience members over the age of 15 must show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test taken within 24 hours of arriving at the venue.

    Event Date: 

    Fri, 07/30/2021 - 7:30pm