If you play acoustic blues guitar, chances are you learned something from Stefan Grossman, either directly or indirectly. His family derives from Hungary and his name translates as “Great man”, and in this case you can take it literally.
One simply cannot talk about people of importance to this genre without tipping the hat to the most masterful musician, teacher, musicologist, producer, folklorist and preservationist of the traditional blues. By now, Stefan Grossman is a venerated, iconoclastic and respected acoustic blues figure of mega-proportions. He came out of the vibrant Greenwich Village, New York, 1960s scene around Washington Square, where so many American folk and blues musicians launched their careers. His friend and occasional collaborator, Steve Katz, formerly of the Even Dozen Jug Band, the Blues Project and Blood, Sweat & Tears, once half jokingly told this writer: “There we were, all these New York Jews playing the black blues.” Indeed, the blues had a strong influence on young New Yorkers during the folk revival. These musicians, Stefan Grossman, Happy & Artie Traum, Danny Kalb, and many others, in turn had a powerful influence on the acceptance of the blues by the American baby boomer generation at large; and, they significantly helped to launch the folk, roots & blues revival, thereby reinvigorating the careers of many original blues musicians whose careers had waned.
He has many dozens of superlative albums out, encompassing a vast collection of traditional blues songs. He recorded with Paul Simon, John Fahey, Charlie Musselwhite, and Happy Traum. He was heavily involved with with Shanachie Records of Newton, NJ, recording Shining Shadows (1988), Guitar Landscapes (1990), Love, Devils & the Blues (1992), Northern Skies, Southern Blues (1997), and Shake That Thing: Fingerpicking Country Blues (1998) for the label. He also helped Shanachie launch their Guitar Artistry imprint series.
Indeed, when it comes to keeping the blues alive, vibrant and exciting, there are few people who can claim such an overall prolific body of work as Stefan Grossman.