Five Firsts: Gillian Grassie

Gillian Grassie
Gillian Grassie

NAME: Gillian Grassie (say “Jillian,” x-files style)
INSTRUMENT: harp & voice

1. THE FIRST ALBUM I EVER BOUGHT WAS … Shawn Colvin’s A Few Small Repairs. I’m only 26, but that was long ago enough that I bought the album on cassette! Kind of dates me in the same way that my kindergarten class was the last taught to use the card catalogue system in my school district.

2. THE FIRST CONCERT THAT I EVER SAW WAS … That I remember? The Indigo Girls. My mom got me tickets for my fifth birthday. I was obsessed with their song “Hammer and a Nail.”

That I was too young to remember? Probably Raffi.

3. THE FIRST MUSICAL INSTRUMENT I EVER OWNED OR PLAYED WAS … Whatever they were offering in kindermusik. Probably a glockenspiel.

4. THE FIRST SONG THAT I EVER PERFORMED IN PUBLIC WAS … The first original song that I ever performed was a little ditty called “The Steps From Change,” which was also the first song I ever wrote, when I was 15 years old. I’m a little embarrassed to say you can find it on iTunes on my first EP, To An Unwitting Muse (2005).

5. THE FIRST BAND I WAS EVER IN WAS … So, when I was about five years old, my family moved out from Germantown, Philadelphia to a farm about an hour outside the city. I went from living in a twin house to living next to a 700-acre nature preserve. The only kids for miles were two girls around the same age as my sister and I, and we became default best friends. Sometime in elementary school, we decided to form an all-girl rock band. I was playing guitar at the time and sang, Joanna sang and played keyboards, her little sister Beth played drums and my big sister played violin. We had three songs in our repertoire: “Wild Thing,” “Moondance” and “Joy to the World.” Beth had her drum kit set up in this walk-in closet and we’d all cram in there to rehearse. Given this unusual practice set-up, we decided unanimously on what we all agreed was a brilliant band name. Which is how it came to be that the Closet Shebangers played “Wild Thing” at my fourth grade talent show in tie-dyed t-shirts and sideways ponytails. Our only other gig was at a Presbyterian church. Preeeettty sure the Closet Shebangers busted out “Moondance” for that one.

Singer-songwriter-harpist Gillian Grassie returns to Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs for the next installment of the Emerging Artist Breakout Concert Series at 7pm on Wednesday (November 14). Grassie’s sophomore album – the Todd Sickafoose-produced “The Hinterhaus,” featuring special guest Janis Ian – is slated for release in January. Admission at Caffe Lena is $5.

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