Bob Smith ’67 shared the story of the student folk music trio The Grymes Hill Singers on the occasion of his 50th anniversary of graduation.

It started in September 1963, when he left his home in Connecticut and arrived at Wagner. An “amateur folk music guitarist,” he performed a few songs at an orientation party on the Oval. As a result, he met two older students, Rusty Brown and Paul Bensen. The three of them started performing in the dorms and student homes off campus. Smith fondly remembers the “good echo chamber effect” of rehearsals in the freshman dorm’s laundry room.

A photo of the front cover of the album,
The front cover of the album.

In 1964, a freshman, George Stevens, introduced them to his stepfather, Joe Raymond, who owned “a small home-grown record label called Recall Records.” Raymond signed the trio, and they recorded their covers of well-known folk songs at Sterling Sound in Manhattan. The album was released in 1965.

“We performed all covers of then well-known folk songs,” Smith says. “Mr. Raymond tried to get a major label to take the album, but all passed on it. After all, there were no original songs, and the Beatles had landed and folk music sales were waning. We sold copies at our shows which were on campus, and in Connecticut and New Jersey, usually in church basements or someone’s home.”

A photo of the back cover of the album,
The back cover of the album.

The Grymes Hill Singers won third place in a contest judged by Albert Grossman, Bob Dylan’s manager, and performed at the famous Bitter End club. But, by 1967, the group had dispersed. Paul Bensen graduated in 1965; Ron Baglio ’68 replaced him in the trio, but then Rusty Brown left and joined the Army in 1966. Bob Smith finished his degree in 1967.

“I continued a minor solo ‘career’ for about three more years, and now I just sing in my living room,” he says.

Bob Smith would welcome contacts from friends; email him at rsmithasp@aol.com.

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