"words & music full of poetry & passion" -Boston Globe



CONCERT ALERT! (details on Concerts page)

July 26: 6pm @ Julia de Burgos Poetry Park  corner Jackson & Terry Sts., Willimantic CT

Sunday November 18 4pm: with the Faithful Sky @ The Bread Box, Willimantic CT

HUGH'S NEWS (4/12/18)

Hugh Blumenfeld, Short Bio:

A long, long time ago, I left the pre-med track to study poetry and poetics. At the time, I saw it as a choice between treating the body or treating the soul. I studied and taught literature and creative writing for ten years - a gypsy scholar going from university to university. I wrote about how we become drawn to the wisdom of poet William Blake long before we understand him, about creative writing and chaos theory, about the Beatles and Orientalism, and I taught Kepler,  Darwin, Einstein, Freud and Rachel Carson as poets. My students read Martín Espada, Marilyn Nelson, Leo Connellan and Doug Anderson, poets who were actually alive and  magically appeared in the classroom, and they listened to Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Gil Scott Heron and others (though only Jack Hardy, Cheryl Wheeler, Andrew Calhoun, Kat Eggleston and Frank Tedesso showed up to sing).

Along the way I started writing songs and eventually left academia to become a full-time singer-songwriter, touring around the U.S. and in Europe for the next decade. I lived in NYC through most of the 80's, and got involved with the Fast Folk scene in Greenwich Village. During that time I worked with many amazing artists including my producer/collaborators David Seitz and Mark Dann; together we made five albums, the first four released on Prime-CD and the last released on Waterbug. I even made a studio recording in Europe, put out by Paul Rostetter on the Swiss folk music label, Brambus. I also owe a debt of gratitude to all the club owners and coffeehouse organizers who invited me to play for their audiences, encouraged me in my work, and showed me the most amazing hospitality.

Once I became a dad, I mostly stopped touring. In addition to local gigs, I pursued artist residencies around the Northeast and increasingly found myself called to work in medical settings, from the neonatal unit to hospice programs. This kind of work takes your breath away, and I gradually re-discovered William Blake's old truth: "There is no body distinct from the soul." In 2003 I enrolled in UConn's School of Medicine and in 2010 I started a new career as a family physician working and teaching out of Hartford CT.

I still play live from time to time, either solo or with members of my band, The Faithful Sky. I consider myself fortunate to have had so much music in my life and the longlasting friendships that music forges. Thanks for visiting my website. There are links to my songs and CDs and to music by people I've known and admired over the years who are perhaps new to you. There's a tour schedule, an online press kit for  promoters, and other odds and ends.



Check out the band: The Faithful Sky!


Faithful Sky photo from 2014

Jeff Buchbinder, HB, Mark Hall, Diane Chodkowski, Jim Mercik, circa 2014.


THE LATEST CD: A Children's album for adults.

My 7th album, Dad, is available on Waterbug Records. This collection is half children's album, half parents' album. Most of the songs were made up as lullabies & play songs for my boys when they were little, as a way of making it through early mornings & late nights. Reviewed in Folk Roots (UK).










Earlier CDs & MP3s

Prime-CD, the New York label that put out my first four releases, went out of business awhile back. However, Waterbug Records still sells some of these online too. I also have one CD that's still available from the Swiss label Brambus. See the Recordings page for more info and a complete discography as well as LYRICS. Of course, you can find almost anything on Amazon....







Also, some cool montages and live recordings have been showing up on YouTube
.


Fast Folk

Fast Folk Smithsonian coverSmithsonian/Folkways now houses the archives of Fast Folk Musical Magazine. In addition to being able to get any back issue on CD or individual MP3s, you can get the 2 CD compilation featuring the NY scene. It's a fine collection, and features a previously unreleased version of "Raphael," live at the Bottom Line with the house band. Other tracks include Suzanne Vega, Shawn Colvin, Jack Hardy, Dave Van Ronk, Richard Shindell, Lucy Kaplansky and many more. Many individual tracks also available on iTunes.



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Remembering Ed Smith and Jim Romanow - two friends whom I feel lucky to have played with for many years.

BCR&S: Ed Smith, Jim Romanow, Hugh, Diane Chodkowski
@ the Hartland Folk Festival, circa 1994.

Julia de Burgos Poetry Park in Willimantic CT was the brainchild of Sandy Taylor and Judy Doyle, co-publishers of the Curbstone Press, and created by a  coalition of community activists. It is named after Puerto Rico's most beloved poet and has hosted poetry readings since its inauguration in 2001. Sometimes there is a musical opener. It's a great honor to be invited to play there as the featured poet.

I played some songs and talked about the gig, along with many other things, in a morning interview with Wayne Norman on WILI. It's archived here:

For details on upcoming gigs

Hugh as Esau in Red Angel
Hugh as Esau in his one-man show "Red Angel" (written 1997, returned to the stage in May 2018).

A verse from "The Strong In Spirit" serves as the opening epigraph in Kevin Brockmeier's acclaimed first novel The Illumination published by Pantheon Books. I'm biased, but it's a great read - and he's gone on to write a ton of other great books.

The Illumination

* * * * * * *


OTHER FOLKS


FAVORITE (obscure) SONGWRITERS

Andrew Calhoun. Prolific songwriter & poet, scholar & presenter of traditional spirituals & Scottish ballads, tireless advocate of other artists. He sings about the redeeming power of love, the endless struggle to be human, in songs that have the purity of water.

For about 25 years I've been holding on to a cassette of songs by Brian Anderson. I met Brian at Kerrville Folk Festival in 1991 and for the next five years I'd make special trips out to Chicago mostly to see him, Richard Krueger, Kat Eggleston and Andrew Calhoun. Brian introduced me to The Charleston, a Cheers-like bar on Chicago's west side, and we shared many gigs there. I have covered his song "Map to Another World" for years, thinking I was one of only a handful of people who knew the song even existed (Brian never toured and the album was never released on CD). Imagine my surprise when the song recently turned up on the TV series Transparent. Of course, the show is written by Jill Soloway, sometimes with her sister and folk goddess Faith Soloway. How did they hear it?

Annie Gallup . No one tells a story like Annie, half singing, half chanting - a kind of musical sorcery. On her newest album, Weather, she sings with a string quartet, taking her out of the realm of folk music altogether. Truly inspired.

Other favorite songwriters: Greg Brown, Richard Shindell, Dar WIlliams, The Nields, J.P. Jones.

Recently departed: Dave Carter, Jack Hardy, Bill Morrissey, Utah Phillips

Guilty Pleasures: Fountains of Wayne, Magnetic Fields.

GREAT MUSIC WEBSITES

Smithsonian/Folkways - You are crazy if you don't visit this site and download vintage mp3's from the very earliest recordings of artists like Suzanne Vega, Tracy Chapman, Nanci Griffith, Lyle Lovett, Shawn Colvin and others - all captured by Fast Folk Musical Magazine between 1982 and 1996.


WWUH Radio - link to webcasts of this U Hartford station's many folk, roots & blues shows as well as articles - including Ed McKeon's "Caterwaul" (Wed 6-9am) and Dwight Thurston's "In the Weeds" (Fri 1-4pm). And of course, there's Ed's fab political blog, Caterwauled.

Susan Forbes Hansen, Long-time host of the Sunday Night Folk Festival (7-10PM) on WHUS, now has a new show on WWUH Friday mornings. She, too, has a blog.

Hober Thinking Radio - 24/7 streaming webcast, remarkably consistent - and remarkably, still streaming after years and years.

etree.org / Internet Music Archive. Mother lode of free music, from rare 78's & blues classics to the 40,000 live concert bootlegs by 2000+ artists including Greatful Dead, Billy Bragg, Billy Bragg, Lucy Kaplansky... also connects to Democracy Now archives, presidential speeches, and other educational stuff. What the internet was meant to be.


ART & PHOTOGRAPHY

Peter Crowley, is an iconoclastic photographer - for years he never digitally edited or even cropped any photo. What he wants to give viewers is what he saw through his viewfinder in that instant of perceiving and simultaneously creating it.
Peter did all my press photos from 1988 on. He moved to the Northwest several years ago, but still shoots and maintains an active website where you can explore his unique vision of the world - and  of course purchase his work.

Harvee Riggs, an old friend & collaborator,  designed the cover for Mozart's Money. Before he died, he created a book of photographs of some of his extraordinary boxes of found objects. I Think Therefore I Art is published at blurb.com. You can view it online - and even buy a copy. Photos from this book form the artwork for my recent CD, Dad.


Mark Bilokur, a graphic artist who is currently part of Vulturetown Arts, made some of my earliest posters and this album cover from 1991:

Barehanded pen and ink




photo by Joel Landy

Thanks for dropping by.

For comments, bookings, or to buy CDs direct,
please contact me at:

signmail at hughblumenfeld.com

or via my Facebook page.

 

 

 


Site Credits
website content and design: © 1998-2018 Hugh Blumenfeld
transparent hand graphic: photo & art by Andrea Gaines; computer magic by Harvee Riggs
three-handed guitar logo art: Mark Bilokur
Hugh's publicity photos: Peter J. Crowley (
www.peterjcrowley.com)



I Will Die In Willimantic
(adapted from “Black Stone upon a White Stone” a by Sandy Taylor)


Between an ashcan and a broken bottle
Waiting for the dawn
Dreaming of foreheads and decks of cards
And a song that goes on and on

CHORUS:
I will die in Willimantic
I will die in Willimantic
I will die in Willimantic
Dreaming of ice cream and whiskey
Dreaming of ice cream and whiskey

I will think of the beautiful words
I will say as I am going
But no one will stop to listen
‘Cause the game will still be playing

CHORUS

I will die in Willimantic
As the pigeons start to flutter
Edging and rustling toward morning
Where the poetry’s bound to be better

CHORUS

I will die - on a Friday
With my pockets turned inside out
“God how could you do this to me
Now I’ll miss the whole weekend,” I’ll shout

CHORUS
====================================
Because
(from the poem by Sandy Taylor)


Because - we snapped the hollow words of our fathers
Because - we left the pale tears of our mothers
Because hópe - dróve us like ráin through the grásslands
cóvered with bones

Because - we could see the blue mountains
Because - they shone like the face of a lover
Because nada and dada rushed on to the sea
  on a river of mud and blood
that we crossed singing
that we crossed singing

   CHORUS:
   Because - because we know the road is long
   And we know we can only go dancing and singing
      part of the way
   Because - ‘cause every blow has made us strong
   And we know we can only go marching and fighting
      part of the way

Because - in our hearts is a tiger
Because - it is stirring and stretching (its limbs)
Because everything under the glorious sun is ours
and goes on with us forever

   CHORUS:
   Because - because we know the road is long
   And we know we can only go dancing and singing
      part of the way
   Because - ‘cause every blow has made us strong
   And we know we can only go marching and fighting
      part of the way
 
   Because - because we know we’ll soon be gone
   And we know we can only go dancing and singing
   and laughing and drinking
   and thinking and writing
   and working and fighting

       part of the way....
       lighting the way

Sandy Taylor & Judy Doyle
Sandy Taylor & Judy Doyle

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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