Painting by Joe Matunis.

Steve Suffet
Old Fashioned Folksinger


I'm Steve Suffet and I call myself an old fashioned folksinger. I was born in 1947 and I've been singing as far back as I can remember. My Mom was a jazz singer, a pretty good one, and she played the ukulele. She couldn't stand what she called "hillbilly music," so rebel that I was, when I was a young kid I used to insist on listening to Tennessee Ernie Ford sing Sixteen Tons. Around the same time I got a harmonica as a gift and I used to go around tooting it just to annoy people. I eventually learned to play a few simple tunes, like Oh, Susannah and When the Saints Go Marching In, and that drove everyone even crazier.

My Mom showed me a few chords on the ukulele, but I really never got into it. However, when I was in high school I spent $17 and bought a Harmony Stella guitar. For another $2 I bought a copy of Jerry Silverman's Beginning the Folk Guitar, and from then on I was completely hooked. I started hanging out around the fountain in New York City's Washington Square Park on warm Sunday afternoons, and I tried to absorb everything I heard, including blues, bluegrass, ragtime, ballads, cowboy songs, hobo songs, union songs, topical-political songs, whatever. I took old Folkways records out of the library and then started buying my own. In a year or two I got my courage up to start performing at open stage nights -- hootenannies they were called then -- at various clubs and coffee houses. My goodness, was I awful! But I certainly learned a lot, and I even met some fellow musicians whom I still know today.

Now the stuff I do I call folk music, but if you would rather call it roots music, or traditional music, or old time music, or even hillbilly music, that's OK with me. Essentially what I do is take any song I like, from whatever source, and sing it in a manner that suits me. Sometimes I change the tune a little bit, and sometimes I change the words. More and more I find that I'm making up my own songs. In fact, the well respected songwriter Si Kahn once said to me, "You write really good songs." I certainly am not about to argue with Si's assessment, but I'm still reluctant to think of myself as a songwriter. Old fashioned folksinger suits me just fine!

For a complete listing of my upcoming performances, please click here!

Now that I am well into my 70s, I have cut back on my public performances,
although I still participate in sing-arounds, round robin concerts, and workshops.

I am a native New Yorker, and I currently live in the New York City Borough of Queens.

Recorded music: My four CDs, two digital albums, and many of my digital singles are available from Amazon and other online retailers.
I am proud to be a member of Local 1000, American Federation of Musicians, AFL-CIO.

Steve's songs are about life and politics, and the music is "old fashioned" folk music,
very much in the vein of Woody Guthrie et al.

– Mike Newman, Four Dogs Music, Felinfach, Wales.

This is the real deal: folk music as the people's entertainment,
accessible and relevant but also suitably thought-provoking where required.

– David Kidman, Black Swan Folk Club, York, England.

Helpful links:

Watch me on YouTube.
Performances originally broadcast on
Joel Landy's Songs of Freedom cable TV program.