Saturday, July 28, heralded singer and songwriter Tracy Grammer will perform for Flying Cat Music at the Empire State Railway Museum (ESRM). The ESRM is located at 70 Lower High Street in Phoenicia. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. and music begins at 7:30. Admission is $20 or $18 with reservations. For information or reservations, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 845-688-9453.
Tracy Grammer is an artist who commands love as well as respect. Her warmth and depth are as inescapable as her talent is irrefutable. That comes through in the words of her peers. Mary Chapin Carpenter notes, “Her pure voice conveys the simple truths of these songs; her gifts as a musician are like that of a painter who is a master of chiaroscuro, offering light and shadow at every turn.” Joan Baez offers this, “Tracy Grammer is a brilliant artist and unique individual. Her voice is distinctive, as is her mastery over the instruments she plays.”
Tracy Grammer first achieved fame as half of the folk duo Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer. Together they released three albums of Dave’s songs before his untimely death in 2002. In the few short years that they were together their collaboration gathered rave reviews nationally. The Boston Globe said at the time “If the voice of modern folk is changing – it is going to sound a lot like Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer.” Dirty Linen wrote, “In any rational universe, Carter & Grammer would be spoken of in the same terms of Bob Dylan and John Lennon…their recording is that good.”
Carter and Grammer accompanied Joan Baez on her early 2002 east coast tour. In addition to their own feature set, the two served as backing band members for Baez and Grammer found herself in the spotlight as the featured instrumentalist, with her voice exquisitely balanced in counterpoint to Joan. The future seemed bright and their trajectory was upwards. Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer ranked number one on the year-end list for “Top Artists” on the Folk Music Radio Airplay Chart for 2001. The same held true for 2002 but by July of that year Dave was gone, felled by a massive heart attack at age 49.
After Dave Carter’s death Tracy dedicated her considerable skills to carrying on his legacy, releasing several albums and EP’s that mostly drew on his songs, including some previously unreleased recordings by the duo. Tracy had left the pair’s songwriting duties to Dave Carter, who achieved an impressive run of songwriting contest wins starting with the 1998 Kerrville New Folk competition. Just days after Carter’s death, she wrote the following to their fans; “We need to keep this music alive, it was always my mission that the world hear and know the poetry and vision and wonderful mystical magic of David Carter.”
With her bright, warm, alto amber voice and her mastery of every instrument she plays; Tracy soon established herself as a major talent on her own. Today she remains among the most beloved folk artists performing nationally. While the Guinness Book of Records may not yet list it, Tracy Grammer holds the considerable honor for most consecutive appearances on the main stage of the annual Falcon Ridge Folk Festival.
This year though marks a milestone for Tracy Grammer. She is touring following the release of her first album that almost exclusively features her own songs. Low Tide, called “hugely impressive” by Maverick Magazine, has remained high on the Folk-DJ Charts since January’s debut, with three of its songs ranking in the Top Ten in February alone. Songwriting, Grammer explained to an interviewer, “was a pretty painful process, something I hadn’t expected to be doing at this point in my career. But in 2014, I went through some difficult relationships, and some other things happened, so there was a lot to think about. It was a rich year for me in 2014. Rich with sorrow and grief and a sense of ‘What the hell just happened?”
The resulting Low Tide is the answer to that, forged in sorrow tinged with joy. Music Matters Review calls it, “A bold new sound, attitude and personal viewpoint…. engaging songs beautifully sung and arranged.” What comes through strongest is the understanding that pain itself sometimes begets the healing. The CD closes with Tracy’s song “Free”, which itself closes with these lines:
“now i’m standing where the river rushes to the sea
full moon rising high above the redwood trees
and every trial and trouble, every tragedy
is just a memory
all the worry, all the running away is done
oh, to be standing where i am in the beauty of this land
welcome, sweet contentment
peace has found me
whatever comes will be okay
you know it will”
In reflecting on Low Tide Tracy Grammer recently said, “These are very personal songs, songs about family, loss, hope, and relationships.” Yes, but they are also exceptional songs, with lyrics exquisitely penned. As wildly gifted a songwriter as Dave Carter was, these songs by Tracy Grammer stand proudly alongside his, holding up her half of their sky, part of a living legacy that still is being written. And, now, whatever comes will be okay. You know it will.