Local boy does good
Ramblin' Jack Elliott of Marshall wins Grammy

By David Rolland (Mar. 7, 1995. Point Reyes Light Weekly)

MARSHALL FOLKSINGER Ramblin' Jack Elliott, seen here in a Levi's denim tuxedo jacket custom-made for Bing Crosby, walked away last week with a Grammy Award for South Coast, deemed best traditional-folk album of the year. (Light photo by David Rolland)

Marshall folksinger Rambin' Jack Elliott made good on his prediction last week in Los Angeles when he won a Grammy Award for his most recent album, South Coast.

Elliott, 64, won the award Wednesday over his close friend Dave Van Ronk and three other nominees. "We had an agreement, Dave and I, that whoever won would get a Cuban cigar from the other one."

Before the ceremony, Van Ronk said "if he won the Grammy, he was going to feel guilty. If I won, he was going to tear my throat out. I took one puff of that cigar and it nearly tore my throat out."

About a month ago, Elliott thought his chances of winning the Grammy looked good. "I'm gonna win it," he told The Light. "I'm not confident, but I'm gonna win it."

Unfortunately for Ramblin' Jack's fans, the award for best traditional-folk album was presented in the afternoon, before the show was televised. Elliott had to settle for having his name appear on a televised list.

Almost lost pants
Nevertheless, receiving the award was gratifying, he said. "I've never been close to winning anything except when I was in track in high school. It was real exciting because my pants almost fell off when I got up" to accept the Grammy. "I don't think anyone noticed."

Elliott said he thanked a short list of people, including his late parents and folk legend Woody Guthrie "for convincing me to play a guitar and not drive a truck," and he offered "condolences" to Van Ronk.

However, he was perturbed at himself for neglecting to acknowledge his longtime companion Jan Currie. "Jan was more help than anyone else when I was making the record," he said.

Despite the slight, Currie the next day accepted Elliott's apology and his marriage proposal. The couple has not yet set a date for the wedding.

Award recycled
Elliott was disappointed to learn that the Grammy the presenter handed him was not his at all. "They took [back] that Grammy because they needed it for the next winner," he said, adding that he was then handed another Grammy for pictures, but then stripped of that one as well.

The Grammy festivities were less fun than they might have been for Elliott, who caught a cold in Los Angeles International Airport. At the Grammy celebration, "they had this excellent food, but I couldn't eat it," he said.

He added that the gala post-Grammy party at the Biltmore Hotel was little more than "a disorganized bunch of people in a large room. I saw about two or three people that I knew."

Party in Marshall
Elliott was sorry he was too sick to whoop it up at a party thrown in his honor in Marshall last Friday night, but he appreciated the sentiment nonetheless. "That was probably the first time I'd met the whole town [of Marshall]," he joked. "All 49 of them were there."

The honors aren't over yet for the musician. On Saturday, March 9, Elliott will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Bammies, the annual Bay Area music festival sponsored by BAM magazine. He will perform the same night at 8 p.m. in the Warfield Theater.

His Bammie will be emblazoned with one of Elliott's favorite lines: "What a time. What a beach. What a dog," which he likes to say are the words of Henry David Thoreau. In fact, Elliott admits, "If Thoreau said it, I don't know. He never wrote it down."

This article was dug up at http://www.nbn.com/~prl/stories/mar7/jack.html