If I had to guess the birthplace of Stefan Grossman I think I'd have got it right - Brooklyn, New York 1945.
Not surprisingly he learned his craft in Greenwich Village. Every article I've ever read about him says he studied under Rev Gary Davis - what does that mean exactly? I am open to enlightenment. I saw Gary Davis at the Cambridge Festival once - very good, Mike Raven used to play him a lot on the radio too. Anyway back to the plot - after a sufficient amount of learning Stefan formed the Even Dozen Jug Band in 1963. In 1966, aged 21 note, he had the apparent audacity to record an annotated instruction album wittily titled ' How To Play Blues Guitar'. Also around that time he worked with the Fugs, a radical East Side poetry type group. His final US involvement prior to moving to Europe in 1967 was with the Chicago Loop which also featured pianist Barry Goldberg.
Many years were then spent living in Britain and Italy. We saw him perform regularly at Les Cousins in Soho. I found him funny as well as a fantastic musician - never sure he was supposed to be funny though! Was it humour or stereotypical Brooklyn arrogance I was laughing at? Never really had a conversation with the bloke so who knows?
In the late 70s he did the enviable thing of starting his own label, Kicking Mule, which produced a lot of albums by Stefan and many other fancy country blues musicians of the day.
I have, and still enjoy 3 albums, the quite early 'Grammercy Park Sheik' harking back to Greenwich Village days, 'Yazoo Basin Boogie', a classic plus my favourite - a live album.
We booked Stefan only once at Ilford Town Hall in early '73, a surprisingly good venue for such a cavernous place.