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Hugh Blumenfeld has been called "a songwriter's songwriter," ranging from romantic ballads to biting satire. The Boston Globe described his work as "words and music full of passion and poetry" while DJ/columnist Ed McKeon calls him "as sharp a political and social satirist as any songwriter writing today."
Hugh has performed across the U.S. and abroad, with tours in Europe and Israel. He opened the Kerrville Folk Festival in 2000 and closed the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival with Ani DiFranco in 1996. He has played house concerts and coffeehouses as well as major clubs and theatres including NYC's legendary Bottom Line, D.C.'s Birchmere, Philly's Theatre of Living Arts, and the Kennedy Performance Center's Millenium Stage series.
Hugh has released four albums on the independent Fifty-Fifty Music label (formerly Prime-CD): The Strong In Spirit (1988), Barehanded (1993), Mozart's Money (1996) and Rocket Science (1998), all of which have garnered media awards (see below). In 2000, Big Red was released on the Swiss Brambus Label for European distribution; Mr Jekyll & Dr Hyde, a self-released collection of live recordings and basement tapes of his political material, was originally released through mp3.com where 7 of the songs topped the political humor chart for months with over 70,000 downloads. He has also written and performed Red Angel: The Book of Esau, a one-man musical that takes the ancient bible story of sibling rivalry, deceit and angel-wrestling and turns it on its head.
His songs have appeared on numerous compilation albums including Fast Folk Musical Magazine, On A Winter's Night (Rounder), Postcrypt (Prime), American Impressionists: Memorial Day (Waterbug), The Folk Next Door, and Performing Songwriter's 'Editor's Choice' . He has also been published in Broadside and Sing Out! Magazines. "Brothers" appears in The Best of Contemporary Folk (Cherry Lane) alongside work by Suzanne Vega, Harry Chapin, and Shawn Colvin. "Raphael" was included in the Smithsonian/Folkways compilation, Fast Folk: A Community of Songwriters, released in February 2002, which documents the New York songwriting renaissance of the 1980s.
Born in NYC, Hugh grew up mostly in northern New Jersey. After earning undergraduate degrees in Biology and Writing from M.I.T., Hugh went on to get his doctorate in English at NYU and taught at NYU, Brooklyn College, Bard and in the Connecticut State University system. Living in Greenwich Village during the early 80's he became very active in the thriving folk scene there, performing at the Speak Easy, Folk City and The Bottom Line, and participating in the legendary weekly Songwriters Exchange. He worked on the Fast Folk Musical Magazine for many years, serving as Associate Editor and Board member from 1986-1991 and again from 1997-99 when the operation was taken over by the Smithsonian.
Hugh began working as a musician full time in 1994, touring 100-150 days a year and teaching workshops and artist residencies. The Connecticut Commission on the Arts selected him as a Master Teaching Artist in 1995 and named him Connecticut's official State Troubadour for 1999 and 2000. He performed often for the Department of Mental Retardation and volunteered at the American Cancer Society's Camp Rising Sun. Increasingly, his interests in music and teaching/healing led him back to his early interest in medicine. He is scheduled to graduate from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in May 2007 and plans to become a family doctor.
Hugh continues to perform, teach and write about folk music. He maintains The Ballad Tree, a website he originally created as a guide for About.com, and writes occasionally for Sing Out! Magazine. In October 2003, he spoke and sang at the 4th annual UNESCO Conference on Human Rights along with Hugh Masekela. Since then he has participated in numerous benefit concerts for free clinics run by UConn medical students for migrant workers and the homeless.
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|REVIEWS for ROCKET SCIENCE|
"[Hugh is able] to find the poetry in everyday living, to hear the extraordinary
voices all around us."
- Dar Williams
"a thinking man's [sic] songwriter."
- FOLK ROOTS
"Hugh Blumenfeld sings contemporary folk on Rocket Science
(Prime). The songs shift drastically from microscopic introspection to telescopic
social commentary. I especially approve of 'Longhaired Radical Socialist Jew,'
a contemporary gospel tune that reclaims Jesus as an advocate of free school
lunches and socialized medicine. The left could use a new anthem and I,
for one, will be singing along."
- Charles M. Young, PLAYBOY
"...full of keen observations.... his words bite just enough and his melodies
sting just enough to hit reality head on... lyrics with a poet's economy."
- MUSIC REVIEWS QUARTERLY
"Blumenfeld's beautifully crafted songs are like musical poems, multi-layered
and dense with metaphor and association, tracing the connection between
inner life and outer, personal and political, with grace and perception. Recommended."
- Richard Middleton,
- VICTORY MUSIC REVIEW
"a true folk classic. . . . biting satire, comic
relief and haunting lyrics that meld intellect and guts."
- AQUARIAN WEEKLY
"Rocket Science is visionary in the William Blakean
sense of the word."
- MEMPHIS COMMERCIAL APPEAL
"Rocket Science is a powerful, brilliant incarnation of one of
acoustic music's sharpest minds and most passionate, poetic hearts - essential
- Dwight Thurston, WWUH, Canton Voice
"...a keen and fiery intellect....songs that are subtle,
graceful and beautiful. It may not be rocket science, but it's
obviously something far more difficult, otherwise great albums
like this would be made every day."
- Ed McKeon, WWUH, New Britain Herald
"Strident folk on the edge of bitterness, but runs the
- Jim Foley KXCI, Tucson
"There's always something for the head, something for the heart and something for the feet in everything he does.... Hugh is among the best of the male singer-songwriters on the circuit today."
- Vic Heyman, SING OUT!
"Not bad for a largely assimilated Jew from the 'wilds
of New Jersey.'"
- Haim Chertok, THE JERUSALEM POST
"Hugh returns to his New York City roots. A stark production,
the emphasis here is on Hugh's masterful songwriting and
- AFIM MUSIC MIX
"His songs continue to reflect the craftsmanship and clear vision that
marked his scientific pursuits. [T]he album frames Blumenfeld's airy vocals
and acoustic guitar playing in sparse, intimate arrangements, enhanced by bass
and guitar player Mark Dann, cellist Gideon Freudmann, and violinist Carol
Sharar... displays a sharp sense of satire with his tune "Longhaired Radical
Socialist Jew" and shows his interpretive abilities with covers of Andrew
Calhoun's 'No Secret Castle' and Jim Mercik's 'Is this Enough.'"
- METROWEST DAILY NEWS
|Click for short sample||"Shoot the Moon"||
or paste in this URL
|"Longhaired Radical Socialist Jew"||http://fiftyfiftymusic.com/hugh/radical.ram|
|"I Only Sing About Love"||http://fiftyfiftymusic.com/hugh/singlove.ram|
Mozart's Money (1996)
"words and music full of poetry and passion."
"Mozart's Money is a masterpiece."
"the title cut is absolutely magnificent...his humor
recalls the late great Steve Goodman"
|Click on title for short sound clip||"Mozart's Money"|
|"Waiting for the Good Humor Man"|
"alternates between rapture, longing and bite. Top 12
DIYs of the Year!"
"Hugh is poetic, erudite, and a hot damn guitar player."
"Hugh's songs can be apocalyptic, grounded in gritty
reality, compassionate, bitterly ironic, or all of the above,
with the occasional sweet relief of a lover's arms....truly amazing."
|Click on title for short sound clip||"Bring Stones"|
|"The Road and the Rose"|
The Strong In Spirit (1988)
"Perhaps the purest folk album of the year."
"One of a few songwriters who tell the story of our times.
Tough but wonderful"
"A beautiful album." - Christine Lavin
|Click on title for short sound clip||"Brothers"|
|"Let Me Fall in Love Before the Spring Comes"|
|"Sailing to the New World"|
2005-2007: Joseph Collins Foundation Scholarship for medical students pursuing primary care and the arts.
2003: Speaker, UNESCO/University of Connecticut 4th Comparative Human Rights Conference ("Human Rights and the Arts") with Hugh Masakela.
2002: Smithsonian/Folkways: included on 2-CD compilation, Fast Folk: A Community of Songwriters
2000: Opener, Kerrville Folk Festival, Kerrville TX.
1999-2000: Connecticut State Troubadour: Connecticut Commission on the Arts and CT State Legislature.
1999: Songwriter Showcase, Audience Poll Winner. Falcon Ridge Folk Festival
1998: #2 Folk Album of the Year for Rocket Science: Ed McKeon, WWUH-FM
1996: Top 10 Folk Albums of the Year for Mozart's Money: Ed McKeon, WWUH-FM
1995: Master Teaching Artist: Connecticut Commission on the Arts
1994: Top 12 DIY Albums of the Year for Barehanded: The Performing Songwriter
1986, 1988, 1991: New Folk Finalist, Kerrville Folk Festival
1988: Best Folk Debut Album, Top Ten Folk Albums for Strong In Spirit: Advocate Newspapers of Western New England
1988: Alternative Grammy Award for "Brothers": Pete Fornatale, Mixed Bag, WNEW-FM New York
Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, Hillsdale
NY, 1995, 2000
Kerrville Folk Festival, Kerrville TX, 2000
(New Folk finalist: 1986, 1988, 1991)
Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, Farmington CT, 1998, 2001
Two Harbors Folk Festival, Two Harbors MN, 1995
Greater Chicago Jewish Folk Arts Festival, Chicago IL, 1998
Bethlehem Music Fest, Bethlehem PA, 1994
New York Music Festival, NYC, 1985
Greenwich Village Folk Festival, NYC
Ramapo Mountain Folk Festival, Ramapo NJ, 1996
New Jersey Folk Project Fall Festival, NJ, 1998
Folk Next Door, Hartford CT
Hartland Folk Festival, E. Hartland CT
OpSail 2000 - Tall Ships Festival, New London CT
Boston Folk Festival, Boston MA, 1998
Martha's Vineyard Songwriters Retreat
1997 National Poetry Slam Championships, Middletown CT
International Festival of Arts & Ideas, New Haven CT, 1999, 2003
Kennedy Performance Center, Washington D.C. - Millenium
Club Passim, Cambridge MA
Iron Horse, Northampton MA
Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs NY
Stone Soup, Providence RI
May's Chapel, Timonium MD
12 Corners Coffeehouse, Rochester NY
Bound for Glory, Ithaca NY
Postcrypt Coffeehouse, NYC
Speak Easy, NYC
Real Art Ways, Hartford CT
Cheney Hall, Manchester CT
Levitt Pavillion, Westport CT
IAMA, Salt Lake City UT
Concerts Under the Stars, St. George UT
Westport Arts Center, Westport CT - for Tom Rush
Theatre of Living Arts, Philadelphia - for Patty Larkin
Bluebird Cafe, Nashville - for Matraca Berg
Eddie's Attic, Atlant GA - for John Mayer
The Birchmere, Alexandria VA - for The Nields
Stone Soup, Providence RI - for John Gorka, Greg Brown
Bottom Line, NYC - for Susan McKeown
Ram's Head, Annapolis MD - for John Sebastian
Speak Easy, NYC - for Suzanne Vega, Jack Hardy
Towne Crier, Pawling NY - for Paul Kantner, Marty Balin, Richie Havens, Christine Lavin
Europe - Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Belgium,
1996, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003
Hamilton College, SUNY Fredonia, SUNY - Oswego, Alfred
U., St. Lawrence U., Skidmore College, St. John's University,
Wheaton College, M.I.T., Amherst College, Augusta State University, Indiana State University, University of Hartford,
University of CT - Storrs, St. Joseph's College for Women, University of Illinois - Champaign, Arizona State University,
University of Northern Arizona, International College - Leeuwarden (Netherlands)
UNESCO Conference on Comparative Human Rights: Human
Rights and the Arts, 2003
People's Music Network, Hartford CT 2001
Sand Hills Writers Conference, Augusta State University (GA), 1999
Song and Spirituality, Washington University Hillel, 1997
Northeast Regional Folk Alliance, Official Showcase 1996