Elijah Wald has been a musician since age seven and a writer since the early 1980s. He has published more than a thousand articles, mostly about folk, roots and international music for various magazines and newspapers, including over ten years as "world music" writer for the Boston Globe. In the current millennium, he has been devoting most of his time to book projects, including volumes on such disparate subjects as Delta blues, Mexican drug ballads, hitchhiking, and a broad social history of American popular music.
As a musician (and to a great extent as a writer as well), his mentor was Dave Van Ronk, who gave him a year of guitar lessons and many years of staying up late at night, arguing politics and listening to records of everything from Bulgarian folk music to Bing Crosby. Dave was a brilliant and omnivorous intellect, and Elijah did his best to capture his voice and a sample of his memories, wit and wisdom in The Mayor of MacDougal Street.
Along with Dave, Elijah picked up stuff from various other musicians over the years, as well as learning a lot from records. (Mississippi John Hurt, Rev. Gary Davis, and Joseph Spence are my longtime guitar heroes.)