I grew up outside New York City in Norther New Jersey. In the early 1970's college radio stations carried the wave of upcoming folk artists while historic WHN Am still carried the music of established country stars. The sincerity of the lyrics caught my attention. Since high school I have been writing songs in the influence of writers like Tom T. Hall, Loudon Wainwright III, John Prine, George Jones and the like. The stories of real life have been the mainstay of my work. Over time I expanded musical varieties, but still lean toward the storyteller tradition. You find this genuine honesty in a lot of musical genre, it's not just country or folk songs, it is a quality that makes the story real to the listener. Even if you made the story up, it has to relate to something the receiver can recognize if you expect it to make a connection. It has to be something that I believe if I have any chance of the listener believing it, too.
In the post high school years, I performed with The Pochuck Valley Mountain Ramblers playing mandolin and singing songs from favorite writers like Jonathan Richman, Loudon Wainwright and John Prine. I was the only one who could remember lyrics. It wasn't due to any vocal talent back then., and I was a terrible mandolin player to boot! In 1985 I moved to the Boston area and began playing guitar at home and with friends. In the late 1990's while living in Bennington, VT I began to appear at open mics and local pubs as a solo act. A graphic artist by profession, I had gradually become a familiar regional performer. Often teaming up with friend and vocalist Cindy Baxter, I have performed in small venues and festivals around the Southern Vermont and Western Massachusetts area for decades. While all along writing songs, we never recorded any of them seriously. You're The Only One Who Thinks You're Funny is the first GVH studio venture to date.
'Greg Van Houten' eventually got shortened to 'GVH' by friends and fans and is now my recognized name around this adopted hometown of Bennington, VT. Now it's emblazoned on the head stock of my custom-made acoustic guitar from friend and keyboard player Chris Ivory. Next thing I know, people are calling me 'GVH.' One of my old nicknames was 'Hootie,' as a shortened version of my last name. I used to think I'd use it for music, but then, you know what happened to that. I'd thought for years I'd record a CD, but I decided to give the digital streaming industry a chance to get started first, I suppose. I still like to have the physical recording and own the music when I can.
GVH has been promoted using the Americana tag to describe my music for most of my performing career. Taking the term from the original David Bromberg Band, I use it as a genre to avoid choosing a genre. Americana is a place where many types of music can meet and mingle. I don't like to listen to just one style of music, I sure don't like to play just one. Sometimes it's folk, sometimes it's blues, sometimes I don't worry what it is. The amazing quality today's young musicians have is the knowledge of so many styles. They have decades of reference material to draw from. When we started the CD recording process, that was a huge help in adding variety to the record. I owe their parents an enormous 'Thank you!'
I saw the chance to finally record some of my songs in 2016 when I met local percussionist Adam Turner and his band mates from Bennington College; Sam Clement, and Matt Scott. They'd started Akin Studios in Bennington and had just moved it to nearby Hoosick Falls, NY and were excited to take on this project. Being skilled and gifted musicians, Clement and Turner provide the bulk of the backing tracks making scheduling sessions far easier than I expected. Picking the songs took a while, but once we got the list, we started to make headway. Official release is July 1, 2019. "You're The Only One Who Thinks You're Funny" comes from Ray Romano's TV series, but has become a common phrase in the GVH household.
Obviously, this takes a lot of time and work, and that doesn't happen without the support of friends and loved ones. The goal is to create something beautiful that wasn't there before. As with any venture in art, there are the key people who believe in you that keep your cynicism at bay and push you forward. Jane is number one; she never wavers. Sam, Adam, Matt, Hillary, Cindy, Chris and Dave were all big parts of keeping me on track and seeing this through. Thanks to everyone for believing and making this possible. -GVH
Copyright © 2019 GVH - Greg Van Houten - Pudgy Dutchman Records • All Rights Reserved.
GVH is a registered trade name of Greg Van Houten. Pudgy Dutchman Records is a registered trade name of GVH Studio, Inc.
Member of ASCAP and Americana Music Association
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