Coffeehouse folk culture maven Dave Van Ronk is getting the Coen Brothers treatment. His story will be loosely adapted for a song-savvy screen tale that the True Grit directors are comparing to Noah Baumbach's Margot at the Wedding. The New York City folk icon rubbed elbows with songbirds like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Phil Ochs – promoting and mentoring them throughout the '60s. The Coens will also apparently focus on retelling his left-wing political activist efforts (Van Ronk was arrested during New York's Stonewall Riots) and his own career as an accomplished guitarist.
Also known as the Uncle of Greenwich Village, Van Ronk – who passed away in 2002 – posthumously published his memoir in 2005 with collaborator Elijah Wald, called The Mayor of MacDougal Street. The directors will be drawing from this work, according to an unnamed source at the L.A. Times. The film is already being compared to the Coen's other musical movie, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, as Joel Coen told a recent Lincoln Centre audience that, "We’re working on a movie now that has music in it [that's] pretty much all performed live, single instrument."
Music critic Robert Shelton has described Van Ronk as, "… a walking museum of the blues … ," saying that he, " ... resembled an unmade bed strewn with books, record jackets, pipes, empty whiskey bottles, lines from obscure poets, finger picks, and broken guitar strings … " Sounds like it's right up the Coens' alley, and there are undoubtedly going to be a few surprises up their sleeve still to come, but do you have anyone in mind to take on the role of the music guru?