Category: Music

Winter Italian Tour Dates Announced

// October 15th, 2013 // No Comments » // Cool Stuff, Music, News, Performances

I am beyond thrilled to be returning to Italy for a few weeks of shows this December – and not just because it will be a welcome break from Berlin Winter!

Many thanks to the incredible Rocketta Booking crew for organizing another amazing tour.

Keep an ear out – we may be adding some more shows to this run in the coming days, almost certainly one in Rome at the end of the tour…

December 1: Palermo, Italy – Palazzo de Gregorio (11 AM)
December 1: Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto, Italy – Parco Jalari (9 PM)
December 3: Capo d’Orlando, Italy – Virtuoso, Biblioteca Communale
December 4: Modica, Italy – Hometowns
December 5: Messina, Italy – Retronouveau
December 6: Marsala, Italy – Baluardo Velasco
December 7: San Cataldo, Italy – Muddy Waters @ Planet Underground
December 8: Catania, Italy – La Chiave
December 9: Giarre, Italy – GRU
December 10: Enna, Italy – Al Kenisa
December 11: Reggio C, Italy – Caffè Letterario AL BAR
December 12: Catanzaro, Italy – Paddy’s Irish Pub
December 13: Cava dei Tirreni, Italy – Mediateca Marte
December 14: Cassino, Italy – Nuove Officine Generali

Photo credit: Neal Santos, 2013

Marrow Video from Grounds Oranges TV

// June 11th, 2013 // No Comments » // Cool Stuff, Music, Performances, Travel, Videos

Check out this new video of “Marrow” recorded in Sicily!

The Ground’s Oranges crew did a beautiful job on a spontaneous and last-minute shoot in the countryside outside of Catania.

There was a lot of drama surrounding how to mount this little camera to my harp. Worth it for the extra cool angle though, right?

Thanks to the Ground’s Oranges crew and to Radio Rocketta for putting this together!

You can also listen to the full taping of a live-performance and in-studio interview I did with MAPS radio in Bologna here.

Italian Tour Dates Announced

// March 26th, 2013 // Comments Off // Music, News, Performances, Travel

Italian Tour Dates Announced!


Gillian will be completing a month-long tour of Italy and Sicily in March and April for RockettaBooking. See below for the complete tour schedule:

giovedì 28 marzo: IL CONVIVIO, Modica (RG)
venerdì 29 marzo: PIZZAPEPPER, Siracusa
sabato 30 marzo: AL KENISA, Enna
domenica 31 marzo: LA CHIAVE, Catania
mercoledì 3 aprile: BIRRERIA 34, Taurianova (RC)
giovedì 4 aprile: MOLLY MALONE, Lecce
venerdì 5 aprile: KEY DRUM, Sarno (SA)
sabato 6 aprile: BAR PINO, Campagna (SA)
domenica 7 aprile: GODOT ART BISTROT, Avellino
lunedì 8 aprile: LE MURA, Roma
martedì 9 aprile: FAT, Terni
mercoledì 10 aprile: “InModoAcustico” @ BAR MODO INFOSHOP, Bologna
giovedì 11 aprile: LENINGRAD CAFÉ, Pisa
venerdì 12 aprile: LA MELA DI NEWTON, Padova
sabato 13 aprile: BAGNO SOLO SOLE, Cervia (RA)
domenica 14 aprile: LOCANDA SAN ROCCO, Fermo (AP)
lunedì 15 aprile: CIRCOLO ARCI LEBOWSKI, Gioia del Colle (BA)
April 16: Foggia, Italy: Tolleranzazero
April 17: Reggio Calabria, Italy: Circolo 79
April 18: Castellemmare Del Golfo, Sicily: Picolit
April 19: Caltanissetta, Sicily: Sale & Pepe
April 20: Catania, Sicily: TBA
April 23: Rovereto, Italy: TBA
April 27: Berlin, Germany: Sofa Salon

Happy Birthday to The Hinterhaus!

// January 29th, 2013 // No Comments » // Cool Stuff, Music, News

I am so, SO excited to announce that The Hinterhaus has finally arrived. It’s been a long journey across countries and continents to bring you these songs, and I couldn’t be prouder to share them with you. This album has been a labor of love for myself, Todd Sickafoose, the over 180 kickstarter backers in more than 10 countries who financed the CD, and the incredible line-up of musicians who have lent their many talents to bring these songs to life.

You can download a digital copy of the album on iTunes or order a physical copy of the CD through my online store, along with gorgeous supersoft Hinterhaus T-shirts, stickers, and other goodies. All preorders of the album were post-marked today.

In other great news, The Big Think just posted a wonderful article about (and video of) my performance at The Nantucket Project. That’s the conference where I got to meet Senator John Kerry! A very nice birthday surprise for The Hinterhaus indeed.

I am indebted to you for making my career and, by extension, this music possible. As an independent artist, I don’t have the backing of major label resources, but I have something even better – I have your support. And now I’m going to ask for your assistance in ringing every metaphorical bell tower around the world to spread the word about this record.

The following is a list of things you can do to help The Hinterhaus get up and start taking its first wobbly steps in the world:

1) The Gift of Gab

The single most important thing you can do is simply talk. Talk about The Hinterhaus with your friends, family, and coworkers. Play the record for them when you’re driving your car or are in for the night with a bottle of wine (or freshly mixed manhattan. Did you know there’s a cocktail recipe in my new album? that’s right). Include your favorite harp cover next time you and your buddies are having a YouTube binge session, like this video of me singing Yo La Tengo. Choose a song from The Hinterhaus for your next mix tape (or CD, or dropbox file, or…whatever). If you’re the extroverted type and go up to talk to your favorite performer after their next concert at, say, The Mann Center, suggest me as an opening act next time they come through town. Likewise, if you bump into the owner or booking agent of your favorite local venue, drop my name. Use that button on the upper right hand side of my mailing blasts to forward the newsletter to someone you think might be interested. Every little bit has a ripple effect.

Bottom line? If you’re digging The Hinterhaus, tell someone.

2) Social Media Firestorms and the Digital Frontier

Do you use facebook, twitter, tumblr, instagram, Google+, YouTube, Reddit, livejournal, lastfm, bloggr, diaspora, Pandora, or even [shudder] Myspace? AWESOME. Share a link, post a status update, like my BandPage, include @gilliangrassie and #TheHinterhaus in your next tweet, put something on Reddit and up, up, up it (did you know I was a darling for a hot second because of a Morrowind Theme cover on YouTube?). Write a review on iTunes and rate the album. Write a blog post if you feel so inspired (oh my gosh, I’d be so flattered!). If you’re a regular reader of a music blog (coughPASTEcoughPitchforkcough) and hear something that reminds you of Rob Reich’s accordion on Marrow, or think that The Canonization of Margot Price would be relevant listening for the next article about eating disorders and body image on, mention it in a comment. It all makes a HUGE difference.

If you’re not a varsity-level internet fiend and didn’t understand any of the previous paragraph, it’s totally fine. Don’t worry. We’ll go back to analog activities right…now.

3) Call your local Radio Station

Radio, especially AAA radio stations are still extremely important in getting the word out about new albums and turning on new listeners to their next favorite artist. Radio stations, especially public, member-supported stations like WXPN are also VERY responsive to their listeners. If you call your local NPR affiliate station and request a song from The Hinterhaus, and a handful of other people in your area do too, the station will notice. And they might just start spinning a track off The Hinterhaus or have me in for an interview or in-studio performance or Tiny Desk Concert. XPN has been very supportive of me in the past, but I’ve never had a track on “regular rotation,” (meaning, for AAA, 6-7 times a week, rather than once a week). Requesting your favorite song off the new Gillian Grassie album by phone or station website makes a BIG difference.

4) Buy the record

Ok, I know this seems obvious. But seriously. Come to a show and buy the album. Get a friend and go in on a CD bundle together. Download The Hinterhaus on iTunes… and then write a review. You’d be shocked by how few full digital album sales it takes to make it into the top 100 chart for iTunes singer-songwriter genre… and by how big of a deal it is to be on that list, even for a day. If just 1/4 of the people on my mailing list bought The Hinterhaus on iTunes on the same day, we’d be there. No joke.

5) Buy (or make!) a T shirt… and wear it.

Eric created a totally gorgeous design that pairs with the album artwork, and then local wunderpress Camden Printworks silkscreened them onto supersoft, designer T shirts with a special ink that’s also very, very soft. This is not your average college sports jersey, I promise. They’re really, really nice. You can pick one up at any show or order them online here.

6) Study Buddies

Are you in college? I would LOVE to play at your school. Or do an interview for your student paper. Or be a guest on your college’s radio station. Or all of the above. Let’s talk. E-mail me.

7) Have a House Concert

First off, house concerts are one of my all-time favorite ways to perform. They are fun, and casual, and intimate, and always very, very special. If you’ve never hosted a house concert before, but are curious, shoot me an e-mail. I promise it’s a lot less intimidating than you might be imagining, and totally worth the effort of throwing a low-key party.


If you have other great ideas for grassroots promotion, I would love to hear about them! My e-mail address is Please don’t hesitate to use it.

Okay, like I said, I don’t have the major label rolodex or bankroll to expect the kind of coverage Teagan and Sara have had about their new album release (Heartthrob came out today too! have you heard it? It’s awesome!!!), which is part of why I decided to release this album in January. That gives us ALL of 2013 to start rolling a tiny snowball down the hill in the hopes of it becoming an enormous hinterhaus igloo by next winter (there’s probably some problems with that metaphor. work with me).

Here’s to the strength of our collective nudges.

Thank you so much for everything.


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NERFA, New England, & New Ts

// November 15th, 2012 // No Comments » // Music, News, Performances, Travel

I just spent a whirlwind weekend at the North East Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) conference in Kerhonksen, NY, hanging out with a wonderful bunch of folk DJs, concert presenters, venues, festivals, and very talented musicians. Saw some old friends, and made many, many new ones. This was my first time attending NERFA and let me tell you, when you’re at a hotel with 800 folks in the industry and the music starts at 9 AM and doesn’t quit till 6 AM the next morning, you can wear yourself out a little. But hey, if Gene Shay can do it, so can I.

I earned myself these blisters, which I consider to be little badges of honor for jam sessions well-had.

Feet Dry and Fancy Free

I had a couple days off right after the conference and spent them hiking and camping on the Appalachian Trail near Bennington, VT. Sunday night I lay out under the night sky on and listened to the wind gust up the valley and over the ridge all night and lost count of all the shooting stars. I woke up the second morning in the Melville Nauheim Lean-to to find the forest transformed by snow! Sometimes taking time to get myself a little lost in nature is just the medicine the doctor’s ordered.

On Wednesday it was back to civilization for my first show at the legendary Caffe Lena! I taped a performance and interview with WEXT’s Chris Wienk that aired the same day – he was a real treat to work with. Also, if you missed it, here’s the little piece where I tell some stories about my very first band…

Looking forward, I’ll be up in Middlebury playing at 51 Main this Friday night. Send your friends, it’s free entry, great food and drink. I’ll be playing from 9-11 PM. I’m back in NYC on December 8th to perform for the 10th Annual Advent Hope Benefit Concert, proceeds to assist Hurrican Sandy relief efforts. That starts off at 7 PM at 111 E 87th St. The Winter Solstice will find me performing a special holiday show at The Tin Angel in Philadelphia on Friday, December 21st, with an as-yet un-named special guest. Get your tickets early folks! In the New Year, I’ll be down in the D.C. area for a house concert on January 5th, and up at the Acoustic Long Island series on February 6th. And Keep your ears peeled for news about The Hinterhaus release this winter!

German tour, TedxEast, & a staged reading

// May 1st, 2012 // No Comments » // Cool Stuff, Music, News, Performances, Travel, Videos

My dear friends,

Spring has sprung and new beginnings abound. I’ve been listening to a few versions of The Hinterhaus master and am chomping at the bit to share this music with you! Look for an official release sometime around September. As a teaser, I hope you enjoy this video of a live, solo performance of the title track at the Kito Theatre and Museum in Bremen, Germany in January:

The Hinterhaus – live at Kito in Bremen, Germany

In the spirit of trying new things and being adventurous, I’ll be joining the talents of Liz Filios and Tara Demmy in a staged reading of a new play by my dear friend Amelia Longo called True Stories. The performance will be at The Painted Bride in Philadelphia this Wednesday, May 2nd, as part of their Bridal Salon Playreading series and is being directed by Alison Garret. Now, friends, it has been a LONG time since I got up on stage to do anything other than sing and play harp, so if you’d like to take the plunge into uncharted waters with me, I’d welcome your company. The show gets started at 7 PM – $5 gets you in the door AND free food AND free booze (yes, please!). True Stories is a memoir performance that tells the story of a woman struggling with the ideas of truth and expectation in a relationship and in love. It drills down into her experiences to explore the idea of multiple perspectives in one individual; taking direction from the line “The true story is vicious and multiple and untrue after all,” in Margaret Atwood’s poem “True Stories,” it is an active search for truth in a world of multiple possible truths.

I’m also thrilled to be a (small) part of the TedxEast conference in New York City on May 11th (eep!), where I’ll performing a few songs for the conference guests and speakers, including, yep, The Roots.

After that it’s off to Europe again where I’ll be playing a few dates in Germany, thrilled to be sharing the stage again with Stefan Honig. German folks, stay tuned, because I’ll be announcing a few more shows (including Berlin!) in the coming weeks as well as an appearance on Balcony TV, Hamburg.

Fresh of the plane, I’ll play the other side of the river in NJ at Barrington Coffee House on June 22nd, and join Karen Gross & Suzie Brown at the Tin Angel on June 30th in a concert to benefit Girls Rock Philly. July sees me at the Princeton Farmers Market and co-billing with Zack DuPont and The Darling Side downstairs at World Cafe Live, Wilmington: The Queen.

If you want to see/hear more from me, please don’t ever hesitate to get in touch with venue suggestions or house concert inquiries. I’d love to play for you this summer.

Much love,


XPN 12 Days of Christmas Songs

// December 9th, 2011 // No Comments » // Cool Stuff, Music

I’m delighted to have taken part in 88.5 WXPN’s annual 12 Days of Christmas festivities this year and accepted the challenge to write and record an original holiday song for the station. My contribution is a little ditty called “When The Nights Get Long,” and you can listen to it on the radio tomorrow (Friday, December 9th, 2011) in the 9 o’clock and 1 o’clock hours. It’s also going to be available online as a FREE Download all day on!

I really can’t explain why it’s taken me this long to take a stab at penning a holiday song, but it was easily one of the most fun days I’ve ever spent in the studio. It feels like I waited my *entire* life to put sleigh bells on a record… Many thanks to Helen Leicht for the invitation to participate and to Tim Sonnefeld for squeezing in some last minute studio magic at MilkBoy Recording in Ardmore, PA.


Everybody wants somebody
when the nights get long, the heat turns on
I’m no exception to the rest
with clumsy mittened hands and the best intentions

When Frost, he comes a-painting
all the window panes in tiny slippered feet
oh, he’s a joyful artist like a four year-old
he paints in shapes and whorls
or maybe lacy sutures to mend all the broken hearts

Everybody wants somebody
when the nights get long, the heat turns on
and I’ve been waiting oh so patiently for something right
for sugar and spice and all things very, very nice

the cold it makes us bolder
I’ll just lean on your shoulder since I’m shivering
oh, won’t you please pull me nearer
and we’ll dance to thaw our toes
a snowflake’s on your nose
I guess I better kiss it quick

I don’t have a wishlist
I got too much stuff as it is
don’t worry about packages
because you’re bundled like a present
your scarf’s tied like a bow

Everybody wants somebody
when the nights get long
when the heat turns on
I’m glad you’re with me

NBC Music Box Sneak Peak at The Hinterhaus!

// December 1st, 2011 // No Comments » // Cool Stuff, Music, News, Performances, Videos

Check out this video from NBC Philadelphia’s Music Box series, which features an interview and a sneak peak at two songs from The Hinterhaus!

NBC Philadelphia Music Box Feature

If you like the video, consider checking out other episodes from the series and sharing your enthusiasm with NBC Philadelphia to ensure that other independent artists can continue being featured! Many thanks to Vincent Gabriel Antonini for producing the series. You can check out lyrics to “The Canonization of Margot Price” and “Back to Your Flat” on the lyrics page!

Center of Gravity cover

// June 25th, 2011 // No Comments » // Cool Stuff, Music, Performances, Videos

Hi All,

I’m back home for a few weeks after a long time on the road & hard at work finishing up the cover requests that came in for the Kickstarter campaign. I’ll be posting a new one on my YouTube account in a few days & making some big announcements about the new album soon, but in the mean time, enjoy my version of Yo La Tengo’s “Center of Gravity,” requested by some lovely backers (with excellent taste) in Switzerland. That rendition of the Morrowind Theme is still going strong too – it recently broke 58,000 views!

Much love,


// May 24th, 2011 // No Comments » // Cool Stuff, Music, Performances, Press, Travel

I’m sitting in our hotel in Manizales, finishing some delicious café con leche, & savoring the last few moments of our time in Colombia. What a whirlwind the beginning of this tour this has been! Since we left San Francisco a week ago, the Ramblers have taken six flights & are about to catch our seventh & eigth this afternoon to Bogota & Quito! Using planes so much for travel has been nice in that it allows us to visit many more cities & schools than we’d otherwise be able to, but it’s been harder for Brendan, who couples an astonishing amount of obscure technical & trivia knowledge about plane models with a mild fear of flying.

Ramblers being silly

Before we take off for Ecuador, I wanted to give you all some highlights of our amazing week in Colombia.


We began our journey in Bucaramanga, where we were met by our effervescent cultural co-ordinater from Bi-National Center, Juliana. We hit the ground running with a workshop at the Escuela Normal Superior with two big classes of enthusiastic (and energetic!) students. We worked off some of that energy by having them jump, walk, run, swim, drive, & ride around the verbs of motion in Old Joe Clark, & then learned some interesting noises for animals in both Colombia & the United States during Old MacDonald. I especially liked learning about the Chiguiro! Also, I’m always excited for the opportunity to showcase my super-realistic chicken sound, cultivated over many afternoons of serious practice as a child. In between the classes, we were offered a refreshing carbonated beverage called Malta that looked for all the world like cola, but tasted like a dead ringer for the milk in your bowl post-Lucky Charms. Brendan, Matt, Jordan, I were reminded of our time in Russia at the end of the class when all the kids rushed us for autographs & facebook contact info.

Jordan strikes a teacherly pose...

Jordan strikes a teacherly pose...

We were delighted to discover that the venue for our first public concert was the stunning Casa del Libro Total Museum & were well-received by the audience there. Our program ranged from rousing songs about Union scabbers (“Casey Jones”), to ballads about the hardships of growing up in poverty in the Appalachian Mountains (Ola Bella Reed’s “I’ve Endured” & Gillian Welch’s “Red Clay Halo”), to songs about the railroad (“John Henry”) and the range (“Home on the Range”) and heartache (“East Virginia”), to silly children’s songs (“The Fox”), and examples of “contemporary American folk music” when Brendan, Jordan, & I each take a turn playing original compositions. I also like to throw in a traditional Irish song called “The Blackbird,” which provides a good opportunity to introduce the idea of The United States as a nation of immigrants & talk about the relationship between some of the traditional music in America & that of the British Isles.

sound check at the museum

One of the main ideas behind this project is that, in addition to being a fun way for ESL students to learn through music, we feel that traditional American folk music is a terrific way to share another side of American culture that is perhaps not very well represented by our most pervasive cultural exports (Hollywood films, pop music, MTV, etc). The United States is a vast & complex nation filled with many different people with rich & varied heritage. The stories told in Folk songs are stories about real people, ordinary people, about hardship & joy & suffering & history, & we are as excited about sharing these narratives of American culture with other parts of the world as we are about learning more about the lives & history of our hosts & the students & teachers we encounter.

Matt & Gillian ramble through the streets of Bucaramanga

One of the ways that we like to explore new cultures is through food! Brendan in particular has made it his mission to taste every local specialty cuisine he encounters, which is how we came to sit around a small plastic table, contemplating a bag of fried ants. The ants were much larger than any I’d ever seen – each abdomen section about the size of a small pea – and (I can personally report) are crunchy, salty, & not altogether unpleasant save for the disturbingly tangible legs, which got stuck between my teeth.


After two wonderful, busy days that ended too soon, we packed our bags once again & caught a flight back to Bogota & then to Pereira (interesting fact: we will pass through the Bogota airport three times on this trip without ever actually seeing the capital city itself! Guess that means we’ll have to come back soon for a proper visit). Next update: Pereira!

revisiting a favorite Russian card game

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