Gary Blanchard grew up in Baltimore during the 1950’s and 60’s. One of his earlier musical memories is the Kingston Trio singing Tom Dooley. The music of Peter, Paul and Mary in the early teen years added to his love of folk music, as did an immersion into the music of the Civil War during the centennial commemoration. It was hearing Donovan’s Catch The Wind, however, that made him decide to get a guitar.
Gary’s earliest performances were shared with his brother Kenneth, though Gary started performing solo in 1968. About this time Gary began discovering other folk singers, including Janis Ian, Tom Paxton, Mark Spoelstra, and Pete Seeger. It was Pete Seeger who was to have the greatest impact on Gary. He bought a cheap banjo from the Montgomery Wards Bargain Basement and began to teach himself to play. This led to Gary’s rather unique approach to playing the banjo.
Throughout the intervening years, Gary has ventured into a number of musical styles, including folk-rock, avant-garde performance in the style of Laurie Anderson, new-age electronic music, even writing pieces for string quartet and woodwind trio. In recent years, however, Gary has returned to his folk music and singer/songwriter roots.
Gary writes music that stays close to the folk tradition yet also reveals other influences. In performance, Gary sings and plays 6-string acoustic guitar; at times he may play an electric guitar, a long-neck banjo, or piano. His song list includes original songs, traditional music, songs by some contemporary folk musicians, and the occasional 60’s rock cover song. His songs explore social issues but focus on the need for hope and action while keeping a positive focus. Gary also does educational presentations that combine music and history.
Gary Blanchard is now performing throughout the New England area and hopes to expand his audience across the country.