When one looks at the career of folk singer and guitarist Ramblin' Jack Elliott, one gets a broad snapshot of 20th-century American folk music. And for anyone interested in Oklahoma music, he's an important figure.
It was Elliott who learned the songs of Okie folk legend Woody Guthrie straight from the source and then, after Guthrie's health declined, taught those songs to a couple youngsters:
" Guthrie's son, Arlo, and
" Bob Dylan.
Elliott will play a special show at The Blue Door in Oklahoma City on Saturday.
Though perhaps best known because of his connections to both Guthrie and Dylan, Elliott made his own mark as an interpreter of an endless supply of folk songs during the American folk revival of the Fifties and Sixties. In doing so, he influenced young up-and-comers, including:
" The Grateful Dead and
" Rolling Stones.
"Jack wasn't the innovator Woody was or Dylan was. That wasn't his role. He was a catalyst and a sort of lighting rod for where rock 'n' roll and country music and blues all came together," said Greg Johnson, owner of The Blue Door. "He's just a guy who was sort of in the middle of it all, and that's rare among musicians that you're able to do that."
Even at 76, Elliott is still touring, but Johnson said people should take the chance to see this "true American treasure" while they can.
"He's just an interesting storyteller," Johnson said. "That's what he loves to do more than anything." "Dave Bond