The Grayson Hugh Trio

Caffé Lena, 7 Phila Street, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

Caffé Lena is excited bring Grayson Hugh and Polly Messer back for a return concert, this time with the addition of Tim McDonald. With the appearance of The Grayson Hugh Trio at Caffé Lena on Saturday, March 13, 2021, there is a rare opportunity to hear and see some world class music in an intimate acoustic setting.

“In a world where music is often a brittle artificiality, the music he makes is hard and strong, convicted and convincing. And true. Most of all, true. It's there in the gritty lament of his voice, in the roughhouse eloquence of his piano, and the atmospheric poetry of his words. And his lyrics! If you love words, if you’re one of those people for whom heaven is a rainy day and a good book, then know this: Hugh doesn’t write words — he writes pictures. He has that thing Sam Cooke and Ray Charles had, that thing you still hear sometimes in Bruce Springsteen, that lonely, train whistle in the dark thing, that yearning, keening thing that gets right to the heart of what it means to be alive, what it means to be a human being.” - Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald, March 8, 2010, Winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary Grayson Hugh is an internationally-acclaimed singer/ songwriter. His debut release "Blind To Reason" (RCA 1988) earned two gold records, in the U.S. and overseas, and garnered several international radio hits. Performing at Caffé Lena is especially meaningful for Grayson. Beginning in 1966, at age sixteen, his earliest solo concerts were, in fact, at coffeehouses. In addition to countless church basements throughout New England, Grayson has brought his unique blend of blues, bluegrass, folk and country to well known venues such as Club Passim in Cambridge, Massachusetts and The Bitter End and Gerde’s Folk City, both in Greenwich Village, New York.

His second record "Road To Freedom" was called one of 1992's top-ten albums by Billboard Magazine. Two of his songs from that record were featured in Ridley Scott's hit film "Thelma & Louise" in 1991. In the same year Hugh was asked to arrange & record a version of Bob Dylan's "I'll Remember You" for the end-title song to the film "Fried Green Tomatoes". Using Eric Clapton’s band to back him up, the result was a gospel-style performance featuring Grayson singing and playing Hammond B3 organ, “a performance that could raise the dead" (The Cleveland Free Times). Grayson joined the faculty of Berklee College Of Music in Boston, where he taught songwriting from the late 90’s through 2003. During his Boston years, he was commissioned to compose and record scores for modern dance choreographers. Through his collaborations with Rebecca Rice of The Boston Ballet, Bennett Dance Company and Prometheus Dance, he was the recipient of three Meet The Composer grants (New England Foundation for the Arts). In 2010 Grayson released his eagerly-anticipated "An American Record”, co-produced by Polly Messer. His 2015 record “Back To The Soul” was on the Official Ballot for a 2015 Grammy in the Best Americana Album category. He is currently working on a new record called “Save Your Love For Me”, featuring his songs in a more country style. For this album Hugh recruited Pete Kennedy on guitar, mandolin and banjo, Bob Dylan’s bass player-musical director Tony Garnier, Texas Music Hall of Famer Cindy Cashdollar on dobro and lap steel guitar and long time Jim Messina band member Gary Oleyar on fiddle and rockabilly guitar. Grayson Hugh & The Moon Hawks drummer Tyger MacNeal and singer Polly Messer also are on the record. He is also contributing songs and an original score for the upcoming Hungarian film “Captain Flame”, written and directed by Balázs Hatvani. Grayson and Polly traveled to Budapest in June of 2019 where, with Balázs and his crew from Cinelabyrinth, they filmed two music videos for Grayson’s contributed songs.

Polly Messer began her career as a singer with the Connecticut swing band Eight To The Bar, in 1977. While touring up and down the east coast with them, she met Grayson in a recording studio and, soon after, began singing backup vocals in his band Grayson Hugh & The Wildtones, in 1982. She performed with him throughout the mid-eighties, until he moved to New York in 1986. During the nineties, Polly sang with the rockabilly band Eugene Chrysler. She also returned to school where she obtained a bachelor's degree with a triple major in art at Western Connecticut State University. In 2007, she teamed up with Grayson once again to sing on “An American Record”. Grayson liked her ideas so much he asked her to coproduce the album with him. One harmony led to another and she and Grayson were married in August 2008.

Guitarist and singer Tim McDonald was born in Worcester, Massachusetts and moved to San Francisco in the early seventies. There, amidst the prolific music scene, he formed the band Rescue which became wildly popular, receiving radio airplay on the renowned rock station KSAN. His next musical adventure was joining The Charles Biscuit Band, which had a huge following in the Bay area. A record deal soon followed, but, as so often happens in the music business, this deal floundered. So Tim decided to move to Los Angeles. He soon established himself as a successful studio musician, appearing on other artists’ records as well live performances in all the major venues for showcasing original talent. He relocated to Connecticut in the nineties where he performed with his band and in solo acoustic acts. One of his projects was The Kortchmar McDonald Band, featuring himself and Danny Kortchmar, guitarist-songwriter for James Taylor and Don Henley, to name a few. Tim also joined forces with Burt Teague to form the McDonald Teague Band. In February 2020, Grayson Hugh called him to join his band Grayson Hugh & The Moon Hawks. After the pandemic hit and music venues closed, Grayson enlisted Tim to add his vocal harmonies and guitar playing to Grayson and Polly Messer’s duo.

Caffé Lena is excited bring Grayson Hugh and Polly Messer back for a return concert, this time with the addition of Tim McDonald. With the appearance of The Grayson Hugh Trio at Caffé Lena on Saturday, March 13, 2021, there is a rare opportunity to hear and see some world class music in an intimate acoustic setting.

Sunday Nov. 1, 2020 7PM ET! 

In a Live Streaming Concert @ CAFFÉ LENA
Sunday November 1, 2020 at 7pm Eastern Time

Polly and I look forward to doing this live streaming concert at the legendary Caffé Lena, America’s longest continually running Folk & Roots Music Coffeehouse, where Bob Dylan, The Freedom Singers, Arlo Guthrie, Emmylou Harris, Don McLean, Mississippi John Hurt, Rosalie Sorrels, Jean Redpath Pete Seeger and so many other got their start. Join us for this exciting night of music at this historic venue. 

Admission is free to watch the concert. There IS a tip jar link in the live stream description, so please show your appreciation generously if you can and help support live music.

We hope to see you (virtually) at the show! 

Click this link to see the show live at Caffé Lena on Sunday, November 1, 2020 @ 7PM Eastern Time: