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Grayson Hugh w/ Polly Messer at The Loft - 7/11Wednesday, July 11 2018 6:30pm Doors / 8:30pm Start
Grayson Hugh w/ Polly Messer at The Loft - 7/11
at The Loft at City Winery
Singer-songwriter Grayson Hugh’s life and career has been one of struggles and victories, contradictions and serendipity, curses and blessings, incredible highs and frightening lows. He grew up on classical music but chose rock ’n roll. He was a high school dropout that became a Professor of Songwriting at Berklee College Of Music in Boston. He is a white man from the suburbs of Connecticut who as a teen played piano in a gospel choir at an inner city church. He attended the Hartford Conservatory Of Music’s Summer School For Gifted Children in his sixth and seventh grades, studying piano, alto saxophone, composition, orchestration, theory and conducting. He studied and performed African drumming with a master drummer from Ghana. He dresses like an Southern Rocker biker but his voice has been compared to Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. He studied piano with jazz legends Jaki Byard and Ran Blake and has written songs in the styles of soul, rock, funk, folk, jazz, country, gospel and world music.
Moving to New York from Connecticut in 1987, he was discovered in an elevator on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. His major label debut of RCA “Blind To Reason” received rave reviews, and went Gold both in the U.S. and overseaas. Hugh’s second album “Road To Freedom” (MCA 1992) was called one of 1992’s Top Ten Albums by Billboard Magazine and contained songs that were featured in the Oscar-winning films “Thelma and Louise” and “Fried Green Tomatoes”.
In the ensuing years, Hugh taught songwriting at Berklee College of Music in Boston, continued to write but steered clear of the record business that had so maligned him. Finally, after having a near fatal, four year relapse with alcohol and drugs in 2004, Hugh's resurgence began with his long-awaited comeback release in 2010 with “An American Record” (called “the stellar, most creative, and sophisticated album in his career to date”, Thom Jurek, AllMusic Review, 3/1/10). His next release “Back To The Soul” was on the Ballot for a 2015 Grammy in the Best Americana Album catgegory. Lee Zimmerman of Elmore Magazine wrote: “A committed soul man for the better part of the past 27 years, Grayson Hugh makes a joyous noise on his latest LP, the aptly dubbed Back To The Soul. The art of procuring pure soul and genuine R&B has seemingly been lost in recent times, given the preponderance of rap and hip hop on the popular music scene. Kudos then to Grayson Hugh for reminding us of not only how it all began, but where it should remain.” - Lee Zimmerman, Encore Magazine, January 5, 2016
Hugh and earned praise from not only critics but fellow musicians as well.
“Grayson Hugh. A great artist!” - Pete Anderson, Grammy-winning Roots Rock and Blues Guitarist and Producer (Producer of Dwight Yoakum, Roy Orbison, Lucinda Williams, Michelle Shocked)
“What a voice!” - Buddy Miller, Singer-Songwriter, Producer and winner of the 2011 Artist of The Year Americana Music Award
“We’re huge Grayson Hugh fans!” - Bill Medley of The Righteous Brothers
Grayson Hugh met Polly Messer in 1980 when she was singing with the popular swing band Eight To The Bar. At the time, she was dating Hugh’s good friend Ron Scalise, who was producing Grayson’s first album called simply “Grayson Hugh”. It was released in 1980 on Ron’s independent label Nineteen Records, named after the studio he was co-owner of in South Glastonbury, Connecticut. Ron also produced EIght To The Bar’s debut album “The Joint Is Jumpin” (Live at Toad’s Place).
When Grayson was looking for a female backup singer in 1982, Ron recommended Polly. Polly sang with Grayson Hugh & The Wildtones on live National Public Television series called “In Performance” and also at various club dates in New York, including the legendary Gerde’s Folk City.
Not seeing each other since ’94, Grayson and Polly reconnected in 2006, when Polly heard about what would become known as Hugh’s comeback album “An American Record”. Offering to sing backup, one harmony led to another and Polly and Grayson were married in 2008. The album also featured Hugh’s musician friends from his Hartford, Connecticut days: bassist David Stoltz (now playing with Jaimoe of the Allman Brothers fame), guitarist Tom Makesky (who toured with Hugh in the late 80s and early 90s) and drummer Rob Gottfried.
Since the release of “An American Record” in 2010, Grayson founded his band Grayson Hugh & The Moon Hawks in 2016, which includes Polly on harmony vocals, 18 year old blues prodigy Bobby Paltauf, drummer Tyger MacNeal (Average White Band, Jose Feliciano) and bassist Anthony Candullo (Poppa Chubby, Natalie Forteza.
As a duo Grayson and Polly are the perfect intimate way to experience Hugh's acclaimed songwriting. Together they have performed concerts of Hugh’s music to sold-out concert halls from St. Louis, Missouri to West Palm Beach, Florida, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada to New York City, Los Angeles to a two week Acoustic Tour in Europe.