The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack

Director: Aiyana Elliott
Screenwriters: Dick Dahl, Aiyana Elliott

Institute History


Told from an insider’s point of view, The Ballad of
Ramblin’ Jack is an intimate portrait of an artist
whose musical influence has resonated for generations.

Ramblin’ Jack Elliott is a folk hero’s hero, who
learned to play the guitar from legend Woody Guthrie
and others while sharing his experience with many who
followed. The filmmaker is his daughter, Aiyana
Elliott, who has chosen to make a personal film about
the unusual life of her father. She tells his
almost-mythical life story while following him on a
recent tour, exposing a side of Ramblin’ Jack no one
has seen before.
Jack Elliott came from unlikely beginnings. A doctor’s
son from Brooklyn, he ran away as a teenager to make
his way in the world. Ramblin’ Jack has lived his life
on the road, crisscrossing the country, hooking up
with musicians, and simply playing his music. He
became a father, though having a family did not easily
fit into a ramblin’ man’s lifestyle; he caught up with
his wife and daughter when he could. Aiyana takes a
look at all the people who revered her father, while
she and her mother were anxiously waiting for him to
come home.
The Ballad of Ramblin’ Jack smartly combines elements
of personal documentary and a portrait of a legend and
sprinkles in intimate performances. The film makes
excellent use of footage of early performances of
Ramblin’ Jack with various friends. The informal style
allows an audience a unique and unforgettable
opportunity to become familiar with this singular
—Lisa Viola

Screening Details

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