Photo by Jody Kolodzey.
Old Fashioned Folksinger
Steve Suffet performing with Pete Seeger, Nanci Callahan, and Anne Price
at Ecofest in Central Park, New York City. October 4. 2009.
Photo by Luis Eduardo Corrales.
Born in 1947, Steve Suffet is best described as an old fashioned folksinger. His repertoire is a mixture of railroad songs, trucker songs, coal miner songs, cowboy songs, union songs, old time ballads, blues, ragtime, Gospel, bluegrass, topical-political songs, Woody Guthrie songs, and Irish songs, whatever else tickles his fancy. He takes songs from whatever sources he wishes and then he sings them his own way, maybe rewriting the lyrics on the spot, flatting a 7th, or changing a major key to a mountain modal.
Steve also writes his own songs, sometimes set to the tunes of traditional folk songs, but more often set to an original tune written in traditional style. Some of Steve's songs have appeared in The Folk Process section of Sing Out! magazine over the years. Others can be found in The Digital Tradition on-line folk song database, as well as in the archives of the Centre for Political Song at Glasgow Caledonian University. Many have been played on folk music radio programs throughout the USA, as well as in Canada, Israel, New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
In the 1960s, Steve appeared at several of the legendary Broadside hoots in New York City and was a guest on Izzy Young's radio program on WBAI-FM. Back then, Steve also performed at the various pass-the-basket houses in Greenwich Village, and on warm Sunday afternoons he could be found partaking in the music making around the fountain in Washington Square Park. Steve then left the organized folk scene for nearly 30 years, playing instead at political rallies and demonstrations, campgrounds, schools, day care centers, weddings, parks, pubs, and pick-up jam sessions.
Steve returned to the organized folk scene when invited to participate in a Sis Cunningham Tribute Concert in New York City in 1997. Since then he has played gigs at venues all around the New York City metro area, including the Nuyorican Poets' Cafe, the South Street Seaport, Sun Music Company, the Community Church of New York, CB's 313 Gallery, the Baggot Inn, the Bowery Poetry Club, the Yippie Museum Cafe, the Vox Pop Coffee House, Gizzi's Coffee House, El Puente, Congregation Kehillat Tikvah, Kingsborough Community College, the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club, the New York City Friends of Clearwater's Water Festival, the Frying Pan – Pier 66, the Good Coffee House at Brooklyn's Old Stone House, the Jalopy Theatre and School of Music, Cafe Marlene, the Sunnyside Folk Club, Porch Stomp, and the Peoples' Voice Cafe. In addition, Steve has been featured on the Songs of Freedom and the Horses Sing None of It cable television programs, has performed in the Circle of Song at the Clearwater Hudson River Festival, has appeared at the New England Folk Festival and at the NOMAD Folk Festival, has been one of Pete Seeger's accompanists on several occasions, and has led or co-led workshops for many folk music clubs and societies, including the Folk Music Society of New York, the People's Music Network, the Philadelphia Folk Song Society, the Folklore Society of Greater Washington, the Borderline Folk Music Club, and the Richmond Folk Music Society. He also performed at the Jacob's Ladder Folk Festival in Israel, and he has twice been a live studio guest on Celtic Music Radio FM95 in Glasgow, Scotland.
In 2003, Steve became part of a newly formed folk group, MacDougal Street Rent Party, although he also continued to perform individually. The group dissolved in 2008, after the death of its musical director, Eric Levine. Even before Eric's demise, Steve and fellow MacDougal Street Rent Party member Anne Price often performed together without the rest of the band. In the fall of 2008, a few months after the band's last performance, Steve and Anne went on a mini-tour of the United Kingdom. Today they remain part-time musical partners, sometimes appearing together but more often performing on their own. They went on their second and third mini-tours of the UK in 2010 and 2012 respectively. Steve has since returned to the UK six more times between 2013 and 2022 to do mini-tours, either by himself or with other musical friends (Pat Lamanna in 2019, Mike Glick and his son Aleksi Glick in 2022).
Steve Suffet performing with Anabel Crespo at El Puente.
Brooklyn, New York. 1998. Photo by Joe Matunis.