Grace Stumberg is energized when she is performing and writing music. The Buffalo native has focused on simple songwriting that draws upon a pop-rock sound with elements of funky-folk music. She first became familiar to audiences while touring with folk icon Joan Baez in 2011. Since that time Stumberg has formed her own band, and continued as the back-up singer for Baez while on tour with her. Stumberg has also opened for artist Josh Ritter and the Indigo Girls.
Recently, she has begun to tour more on her own and will perform at the Dock on June 3.
Ithaca Times: Where does your love of music come from?
Grace Stumberg: My parents. Growing up my mother and father always had a Beatles or blues record playing. I would hear the guitar and think I really want to do that too! The singing came later after I discovered how much I loved to sing and play guitar at the same time. My first musical infatuation was Sheryl Crow’s Tuesday Night Music Club album. I would sing to that all day long! I still do.
IT: When did you first begin to write songs?
GS: I was a senior in high school when I wrote my first few songs that touched on using music to change the world as well as singing about everyday issues in society that I felt needed to be sung about.
IT: Can you talk about the song “Appreciate” and the inspiration for it?
GS: “Appreciate” was a prayer really. I felt angry and stuck. I was unhappy and had lost sight of what I had. In the midst of complaining and self-loathing a voice came through and just said, ‘You know what Grace, people kill for the simple things that you and so many others take for granted. So we must learn to appreciate.’ It’s all in the lyrics!
IT: In the past you have opened for Joan Baez, as well as Josh Ritter, and the Indigo Girls. What did you discover about the nature of touring that helped you as an artist?
GS: At first touring was behind the scenes for me. I wasn’t singing nor was I supposed to say that I did while working as a guitar tech for Joan Baez. Eventually one thing led to another and one day she asked me up to sing harmonies with her. I was thrilled. It has been an honor to become friends with the Indigo Girls through Joan Baez and share a song or two here and there when we meet on the road. Opening for Josh Ritter in my hometown of Buffalo at Ani DiFranco’s Babeville was also a very memorable experience. It was the biggest gig I ever had and I was terrified, but as soon as I started playing I drifted off. All of these experiences molded me into musician that I am today. I’m always learning, growing, and writing on the road and I love it.
IT: Some artists find touring tricky, but how do you make it fun and interesting?
GS: It is extremely tricky. You literally enter a different reality or time zone when you tour. You go on crazy adventures, meet all types of people and make awesome music in more places than you can remember. You float in a beautiful dreamland seeing things your eyes can’t believe. You experience such highs and the next thing you know you’re back in your little apartment feeding the cat and serving coffee before you head out to the bar gig. They’re totally different worlds! But I couldn’t imagine a life not on the road. It feels more home than home now.
IT: In your spare time can you share how you relax? Are you an avid reader?
GS: In my spare time I relax by going out to my family cabin and being in the green grass and in between a bunch of trees. I enjoy silence and open space. I am not an avid reader, but I am currently dabbling in a book about tapping into your “shadow self.” It’s called The Shadow Effect by Deepak Chopra.
Grace Stumberg will be at The Dock on Friday, June 3 for an early show at 6 p.m. •