Spook Handy was No Musical Genius As a Kid ~ He played no instrument, owned no records, and didn’t even have a radio until he was in high school. In fact, he didn’t make the first cut when he tried out for Glee Club in 5th grade.
But he Had a Dream ~ His love for music dates back to his first time watching the Beatles perform on TV. That day a seed was planted – a vision, a possibility of still being a fun loving person when he grew up. And little was anyone to know that one day that seed would sprout.
And The Dream Grew ~ It happened on a stiflingly humid New Jersey morning the summer after graduating Rutgers University (Phi Beta Kappa) with a major in Math and Business. Spook had been offered several lucrative jobs in the actuarial field. He had been groomed for this career by his parents and teachers because he was good at math as a child. He had three job interviews lined up for the day. But…
Spook Always Carried with him a Lust for Living “Outside the Box” ~ His “what if” and “why not” questions raised many eyebrows. His unorthodox religious perspectives got him kicked out of Catholic school after 1st grade. And somewhere in the back of his mind he never gave up on the dream he had when he first saw the Beatles. So, on that fateful morning as he stood in the mirror hopelessly trying to tie his tie, a sudden and unforgiving truth overwhelmed him. The world of convention was not his fate. Sure, math came easy. But his lessons were to be learned through his heart, not his mind. That day he gave his suit and tie to the local thrift shop, bought a used Yahama guitar for $50 and set out to follow his heart’s dream.
Today, Spook has 4 full length CDs to his credit with a 5th on its way. ~ He has written for film and theatre. His songs have charted as high as #6 on the Folk Radio Charts. He has toured throughout North America playing over 3000 concerts in 47 U.S states and 2 Canadian provinces. And he has MCed over 1300 events including open mics and festivals, facilitated scores of workshops and presented lecture/concerts on the Power of Song at colleges and universities. He has performed dozens of times with Pete Seeger and has shared the stage with the likes of Peter Yarrow and Donovan.
Genuine Human Interaction
“The audience was with you every step of the way. You enthralled (them) with your exceptional musical talents and warm, charismatic personality.”
….Gwendolyn Jones – Garden State Storytellers’ League.
Audiences can’t help but participate in Spook’s concerts. They laugh at his stories, sing along with his songs and can’t wait to chat with him after the show. In concert halls and people’s living rooms, Spook shares the pearls of everyday life and extraordinary experiences through songs that come from both the giants of folk music and his own ample supply of original compositions. He has been described as “a troubadour in the style of Pete Seeger and Phil Ochs, and a messenger of peace, hope and understanding.”…. Jim Beckerman – The Bergen Record
His songs tell the story of contemporary America through the people he’s met, places he’s been and predicaments he’s found himself in – both in his own backyard and in his travels. His easy going manner invites people to step out of their own boxes, open their hearts, engage their imaginations and get involved.
“Exceedingly pleasant and fun to hear.”…. Grant Hogarth, KRCL, Salt Lake City, Utah
Good Honest Acoustic Music
Spook can be heard in venues of almost all stripes, from festivals and arts centers to senior centers and churches – from TV and radio to libraries and schools. With a simple Martin D-35 guitar, harmonica, his own voice and the voices of the audience, Spook presents concerts of good honest acoustic songs that are true to the spirit, passion of purpose of American folk music. He sings about the local Mom and Pop’s store, the widow of a soldier, the landscape of Montana, economic hardship, dogs with fleas, and so many other experiences that everybody can relate to in one way or another.
“Spook Handy brings to the stage an awareness and respect for the history and origins of the music. His enthusiasm, music and stories are infectious and draw the audience into the show.”…. Dan & Marianne Jackson of the Forksville Folk Festival
Spook and Pete Seeger
Spook plays several concerts and festivals alongside Pete Seeger each year. How they came to meet and find common cause is quite an unexpected odyssey. Spook grew up in a conservative household. His mom did her best to be open to contemporary music and being as open minded as she could, she bought two albums for the family: The Beatles “Hard Days Night” and Peter Paul and Mary’s “In Concert.” The day Spook “had a hammer” in his hand and started hitting the furniture with it, his mom realized that “rock and roll can be dangerous to young children” and that was the end of the experiment. But the seed was planted. Not everyone hears the influence of the Beatles in Spook’s music, but the influence of Peter Paul and Mary is unavoidable. Still, until they met in person Spook had no idea that a fellow by the name of Pete Seeger wrote many of the songs he grew up loving or that Pete was such an influence on all of contemporary folk music.
“Spook Handy really understands how to write a good song that says something important.”.… Pete Seeger
In 2003, Pete heard Spook’s song “Vote” and added it to his repertoire. That October, he invited Spook to share the stage with him at a small festival in Beacon, NY. Spook was quite taken by Pete’s generosity of spirit, his interaction with the audience and the sense of purpose behind his songs. Here was someone living so many of the values that Spook held himself. Since then Spook and Pete have performed together on over 50 occasions. While Spook realizes that standing alongside “the grandfather of American Folk Music” is a great honor, even more so he takes it as a challenge to develop his art and purpose to the highest level he can attain.
As the years pass, Spook continues to learn more and more from this master of songwriting and performance. Surely, it is but a fraction of the whole picture, but it’s enough for Spook to know how important it is to carry on and build on the tradition of the great masters of American folk music.
“Spook’s songs embody the same intellectual rattle and simple honesty that have characterized so much of (Pete) Seeger’s career.”…. Kim Ruehl –About.com
“What a joy your music is! If you need a reference, don’t hesitate!”…. Josh Dunson, manager for Peggy Seeger, Si Kahn and others.