Wendy Grossman, folksinger

Folksinging days (1975- ? )

wg at Penns Landing, 1981
wg at Penns Landing, 1981. Photo by Caryl P. Weiss (used without permission)

The first official free gig I ever did was for Bound for Glory at Cornell, a free radio show which in 1996 celebrated its 30th anniversary. I always think that the first paid gig I ever did was at the Eighth Step Coffeehouse in Albany, NY, but in fact perusal of the records shows that it was at Buffalo's Greenfield Street Restaurant, March 25, 1975. I toured full-time from 1975 until late 1982, and have done increasingly sporadic appearances ever since. Until 2004, the last gig I did was a couple of songs as part of the Southampton Folk Club's afternoon concert at the local folk festival in 1995. My concertina was stolen from a house I was renting in County Wicklow in the Republic of Ireland in 1984; it was a 64-key Wheatstone tenor-treble in great condition, very rare, and has my name and several of my old addresses stamped on the inside of the ends. I'd be grateful to hear from anyone who runs across it or one like it; in the meantime I've taken up autoharp. I still have its case. In late 2003, I became a resident singer at the Twickenham Folk Club near where I live, and in 2004 I began doing occasional gigs again. Always happy to hear from anyone who wants to add a booking to the list.


I also played backup on:

  • Gypsy Roving Years, Jerry Rau (Train on the Island, 1981)
  • Close to Home, Jon Wilcox (Sonyatone, 1978)
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies, Bill Steele (Swallowtail, 1977)
  • Man With a Rhyme, Archie Fisher (Folk Legacy, 1976)

and contributed one piece to:

More Fingerstyle Guitar, by Ken Perlman (Prentice Hall, 1985)

Folk Festivals

  • Folk im Freien, Freudenberg, Germany (1981)
  • Fylde, Fleetwood, Lancashire (1981)
  • Inverness (1983)
  • Old Dominion, Norfolk, VA (1978?)
  • Owen Sound Summerfolk, Ontario, Canada (1979)
  • Philadelphia (1978)
  • San Diego (1977)
  • Skagen Visefestival, Denmark (1978)
  • Southeastern Massachusetts University Eisteddfod (1978)
  • Tonder Folk & Jazz Festival, Denmark (1979, 1981)
  • Vancouver (1978)
  • Wesleyan Festival of Traditional Song, Middletown, CT (1978)
  • Willamette Valley (1979)
  • Winnipeg (1976, 1979)

Clubs and coffeehouses

(No way is this a comprehensive list...if anyone can remember dates, I'd be glad to have them.)

Aberdeen, Scotland Annan, Scotland Asheville Junction, Asheville, NC Bacca Pipes, Keighley, West Yorkshire Bee, Rhyl, Wales Bermuda Folk Club, Hamilton, Bermuda Bitter Grounds, Kingston, Ontario Blackpool, Lancashire Bodmin, Cornwall Bothy Club, Philadelphia, PA Bothy Folk Song Club, Southport, Merseyside Bound for Glory, Ithaca, NY Bury, Lancashire Charlotte's Web, Rockford, IL Chelmsford, Essex Club Sandwich, Windsor, Ontario Coffeehouse Extempore, Minneapolis, MN Common Treasurey, East Canaan, CT Crown Folk Club, Edinburgh, Scotland Croydon, Surrey Cuckoo's Nest, London, Ontario Dartford Folk Club Denver Folklore Center East Renfrew, Scotland Dumfries, Scotland Eighth Step Coffeehouse, Albany, NY Exeter, Devon Fiddlers Green, Toronto Fleetwood, Lancashire Folkal Point, St. Louis, MO Folkclub Siegen, Germany Folklore Society of Greater Washington (house concert, 1991) The Folk Tradition, Bristol, Avon The Foolkiller, Kansas City, MO Forres, Scotland Freeze Dried, SUNY Albany The Galerie, Flensburg, Germany Glenfarg, Scotland Godfrey Daniels, Bethlehem, PA (opening for Skyline, I think) Green Cove Coffeehouse, Vancouver, BC Greenfield Coffeehouse, Buffalo, NY (March 20, 1975) Hogeye Music, Evanston, IL Herga, Harrow, Middlesex Homestead Pickin' Parlor, Minneapolis, MN Hoy-at-Anchor, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex Inverness, Scotland Kirkwall, Orkney Kulturhuset, Stockholm, Sweden Mahogany Hall, Berne, Switzerland The Main Point, Bryn Mawr, PA (opening for Tom Rush, maybe?) Mariah, Michigan State University, East Lansing (opening for Leo Kottke, I think) McCabe's, Santa Monica, CA (opening for Gordon Bok) Moffatt, Scotland Other Side of the Tracks, Auburn, WA Paisley, Scotland Penns Landing, Philadelphia, PA Prairie Home Companion, St Paul, MN (1978) Poynton Folk Centre, Southport, Cheshire Preseli Folk Club, Nevern, Wales Preston, Lancashire Ramblin' Conrad's, Norfolk, VA Rhyl, Wales Robin Hood, Nottingham Somebody Else's Troubles, Chicago, IL Scarborough, North Yorkshire Sonderborghus, Sonderborg, Denmark Sounding Board, Hartford, CT Southampton (1993) Spokane Folklore Society, Spokane, WA St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland Staenkelven, Aarhus, Denmark Star, Glasgow, Scotland The Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, Grand Island, NE Ten-Pound Fiddle, East Lansing, MI Topic Folk Club, Bradford, West Yorkshire Thurso, Scotland Twickenham Folk Club Vognhjulet, Kobenhavn, Denmark Weston-Super-Mare, Avon White Horse, Beverley, Humberside Woods Hole Folk Music Society Wrea Green, Kirkham, Lancashire


American River College, Sacramento, CA Augustana College, Sioux Falls, ND Bethany College, Bethany, WV Bethany College, Lyndsborg, KS California Lutheran College, Thousand Oaks, CA California State College, California, PA Coalinga Community College, Coalinga, CA Grand Valley State College, Grand Valley, MI Moorehead Community College, Moorehead, MN Kutztown State College, PA Monterey Peninsula College Muskingum College, Ohio Nebraska Wesleyan University Illinois State University, Normal, IL (New Friends of Old-Time Music) Red River Community College, Winnipeg, Manitoba* Reed College, Portland, OR Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY (Mother's Wine Emporium) Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC The Song Loft, Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes Southeastern Massachusetts University Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA SUC at Brockport, NY SUNY at Buffalo Trenton State College, Trenton, NJ (April 13, 1983) UCLA University of Manitoba (Stillmore Coffeehouse) University of Minnesota at St. Cloud University of Missouri at Rolla University of North Dakota at Grand Forks Vermilion Community College, Ely, MN West Virginia Wesleyan Wilson College, Chambersburg, PA

*A gig that was especially memorable because I went back to the hotel room to watch the 1980 election returns only to find Carter was already conceding. Next day's on-stage joke was that maybe the thing to do was start life anew in Manitoba. In an unrelated development, I moved out of the US less than two years later. NB: it was noticeably harder to keep instruments in tune during the Reagan Administration. However, the option was always open to use "Quorum tuning," defined by Ed Trickett as "When half the strings plus one are in tune."

Oh, you want to know what I did, not where I did it...

I played a mix of American and British traditional and contemporary music which you might characterize as having a slight degree of perversity. My first year on the road, I think I traveled with about 12 instruments (guitar, banjo, concertain, dulcimer, autoharp, pennywhistle...all right, it felt like 12). I did things like retune five out of six strings on a six-string guitar on stage between songs, and I played jigs on the five-string banjo in clawhammer style, which I learned to do from Howie Bursen, the president of the Cornell Folk Song Club right before me. Howie is and was a lot better at it than I was; I also stole a guitar version of Kemp's Gigue from Howie, and got a lot of other ideas for playing tunes on banjo from the guitar playing of Scottish musician Dick Gaughan, particularly on his Coppers and Brass album. I stole a lot of guitar ideas and tunings from another Scottish musician, Archie Fisher. I stole a lot of songs and styles, too, from folks like Gordon Bok, Ed Trickett, and Bill Staines, and lots of others of the kind of touchy-feely Fox Hollow crowd whose music I most enjoyed when I was first getting interested in the folk scene, courtesy of Ithaca folks like Bill Steele and Phil Shapiro, who helped me a lot when I was getting started, as did the late, great Alex Campbell and his wife, Patsy, and also Bill and Wendy Price, whose daughters, Ruth and Sadie, are singers, too. I was also a huge admirer of the Boys of the Lough and Sandy Denny. I even stole a producer, Paul Mills, from Stan Rogers. These days, I listen a lot more to singers like Emmylou Harris, and if I had it to do all over again...

...I'd a been a country singer.

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