Grant Livingston
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Grant Livingston

Miami, Florida, United States | AFM

Miami, Florida, United States | AFM
Band Folk Acoustic

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Let's face it: Jimmy Buffett was Florida's favorite son until fame and fortune stole him away. So which singer/songwriter best reflects our state these days? Local folkies will likely tell you it's Grant Livingston. Dubbed Best Acoustic Performer in last year's New Times Best of Miami poll, Livingston has recorded three albums since the late Eighties, each filled with amiable narratives extolling the wit, whimsy, and wildlife unique to these environs. Never one to take himself or his topics too seriously -- except when it comes to musing about environmental issues -- he is known as a warm, affable storyteller, kinda like a Mister Rogers for the older crowd. Leave your cynicism at home and enjoy a show as sunny as the state he's so fond of celebrating. -- Lee Zimmerman - Miami Herald


Best Acoustic Performer
Grant Livingston
Like an unstoned Buffett of maybe Leon Redbone by way of Sesame Street, long-time Miami performer Grant Livingston mixes country and ragtime shuffle with Florida history and tale-telling. Armed with an acoustic guitar and an incisive wit that lends an edge to his kid-friendly material, Livingston pops up at festivals all over Miami, and is a regular at Homestead's Main Street Cafe.
- Miami New Times


By: Orlando Rodriguez
orodriguez@islandernews.com

Whenever he's on stage with his Taylor acousic in hand singer-songwriter Grant Livingston belts out mirthfful nuggets of folksy wisdom.
"I write a lot of funny songs," says the Panama-hat-wearing Coconut Grove resident.
The amiable minstrel with a fondness for Florida history, environmental issues and offbeat observational humor plays at Virginia Key's Bayside Hut Wednesday evening.
A six-string storyteller who produces earthy music in sundry genres like ragtime, folk and country, Livingston says he plans to pepper his two-hour set with titles from his three self-produced albums: 2001's Let Me off the Leash, 1997's The One That Got Away and 1988's Florida Rain (re-released on CD last year).
"My show is pretty much full of laughs," he says.
Assiduously upbeat, the self-avowed "tree hugger" writes tunes conveying a sense of humor while offering social commentary and lessons on history, and while Julia Tuttle, Henry Flagler and other South Florida pioneers tend to pop up in his lyrics, Livingston avoids becoming a history book set to music by keeping things lighthearted.'
"I'm not real dark; I like to look at the humorous side of life," he says.
Livingston started his love affair with music as a piano player at age eight. In high school, he picked up the trumpet, an instrument that introduced him to the world of jazz, bebop, and Dixieland.
After graduation from Norland High School in the mid 70s, he set off for the University of Florida, where he quickly set aside his trumpeter aspirations.
"I fell into song writing when I picked up the guitar in college, partially because the people in the dorm objected to my trumpet playing," he recalls with a laugh.
Following graduate studies in Texas, he returned to Miami where he discovered an underground tradition of singer-songwriters like Will McLean and Frank and Ann Thomas who found inspiration in the Florida landscape.
"Part of the reason we write about Florida is we're trying to preserve some of what makes Florida a wonderful place, the natural environment in particular," he says.
After the release of his first album in 1988, Livingston began playing all manner of venues including museums, libraries and folk festivals. He even landed gigs to perform for fourth graders at public schools.
"The curriculum for fourth grade includes Florida history," he says. "There's something about that age where kids think like adults but have a different attitude: they're not cynical, but they get the humor."
In 1994, Livingston received an invitation to play a turn-of-the-century-theme picnic at the Barnacle. To prepare for the gig he boned up on swing. As a result, he fell in love with the up-tempo music.
"The chord progressions really give it a happy sound," he notes.
Discovering swing music augmented Livingston's ability to sing about history in an irreverent manner.
"You can't lecture on that stuff," he says.
The finger-picking crooner pays tribute to Florida's ecological splendors in song, but he also focuses on life's quirky moments. For example, while taking a cycling tour in Nova Scotia, Livingston and company stopped at a 400-year-old cemetary and spotted a grey cat in the area. Livingston later penned a number about a French-speaking cat's life-affirming journey through a graveyard.
Of his trademark Panama hat, he says: "My grandfather was a hatmaker,, so it might be in my blood . . . and it evokes an older period, and so does my music."
Today, Livingston's repertoire includes all manner of quirky tunes, including a song that describes the last moments before an armadillo becomes road-kill on Alligator Alley. He also has a song about the love story behind Coral Castle. He says he's now kicking around ideas for a song celebrating the preservation of the Miami Circle. Whatever the subject matter, he invokes a whimsical tone.
"What makes a good sing-along is simplicity, and it's gotta be fun," he says.
To learn more about the artist, visit his website www.grantlivingston.com.
- The Islander (Key Biscayne)


If Valerie C. Wisecracker is Florida's musical environmental conscience, then Grant Livingston is its institutional memory.
As close to a Florida native as you can be without having been born here, Livingston is a singer/songwriter who has claimed Dade County as home for all but the first year of his life.
Livingston's music focuses on Florida's past as well as the need to preserve a bit of it, whether through conservation or education.
"I guess I'm just part historian," says Livingston, who now makes his living as a modern-day troubadour based in Coconut Grove. "We have something really unique here and we need to make sure it's appreciated."
With songs about Florida making up a big chunk of his repertoire, Livingston has recorded a CD of tunes about the state called Florida Rain.
Among the tracks is a song called "Escambia," which is simply a list of Florida counties set to music. In "Julia's Garden," Livingston recalls a piece of the state's history as he tells the story of Julia Tuttle's gift of orange blossoms to Henry Flagler - blooming when the rest of the state had frozen during the hard winter of 1894-95. The flowers persuaded Flagler to extend the railroad to Miami.
Livingston also has a great sense of humor, which he weaves into songs such as "Gasoline Angels," a story of a trip he took with Marie Nofsinger during which gasoline angels helped get them to an open filling station.
"I tend to do serious stuff with a light touch," he says, ina smooth voice that could easily get him a job in radio.
Livingston, who has a degree in physics and worked as a computer programmer while developing his musical career, is influenced by many of the same folk singers who have inspired Nofsinger and Wisecracker.
He plays a lot of festivals and outdoor concerts but you also find him at Kamisky's and Luna Star Cafe in North Miami.

- Boca Raton Magazine


John D. MacArthur Beach State Park
10900 SR 703
North Palm Beach, Florida 33408
May 21, 2006

I would like to take this opportunity to recommend for your consideration, Mr. Grant Livingston. I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Grant since 1994. At that time, Grant became the first performer for the wonderful Barnacle Under Moonlight Series. The series has continued to be a popular success ever since. Grant has been a regular and one of the most sought after performers for the Barnacle Historic State Park as well as other parks in the Florida State Park System.

Grant has been a good neighbor in Coconut Grove and has been an enthusiastic supporter of the environment and the preservation of Florida’s unique history through song and stories. He was quick to respond to our needs when at the last minute on a few occasions the scheduled performer was unable to make an appearance. Grant really saved the day.

Besides being and educational and environmental, Grants music reflects an abiding love for the people who live, work and come to relax in Florida. He is an excellent ambassador of our great state as well as to those things we hold dear. I look forward to working with and listening to Grant for many years to come.

I hope this information is adequate and helpful. If I can provide further information, please let me know. Thank you in advance for your consideration in this matter.


Sincerely,

Terence Coulliette,
Park Manager
- John D. Macarthur Beach State Park


Miami-Dade County Public Schools
Management and Accountability
Ramona Frischman, Supervisor

November 27, 2001

Dear Mr. Livingston
On behalf of Miami-Dade County Public Schools Intergenerational Education Program we would like to extend our sincere appreciation for performing at the Oral History/Community Studies kick-off event. Your music as just perfect for the occasion and added that special touch of inspiration to all of the participants.
Your astuteness, style and sensitivity to the high school students resulted in motivating the attendees to utilize their creativity as they develop their community studies project. The teachers reported that your performance was rated as "exceptional" by their students. These accolades are especially appreciated coming from such a diverse group of teenagers. You were definitely a star!
Thanks again for sharing your talents with our program. We hope that you will be able to perform for the Oral History/Communithy Studies Program in the near future.

Sincerely,
Ramona Frischman
- Miami-Dade County Public Schools


November 22, 2004

To whom it may concern:

The Clermont Garden Club was fortunate to have Grant Livingston as our headliner for our Fall Festival. The members and guests were overwhelmed. If you are looking for a program that is wholesome and entertains while teaching, this progam is for you. He captures your imagination while entertaining you.

Grant Livingston is an excellent singer songwriter with a flair for Florida history. Try his concert, you won't be disappointed!

Sincerely,
Martha Conley, President
Clermont Garden Club - Clermont Garden Club


Broward County, Florida
Lori Nance Parrish
Board of County Comissioners
lparrish@broward.org

April 01, 2004

Dear Grant:

Thank you for attending the March 23, 2004 County Commission meeting. It was a pleasure to see you perform "Water Matters".

Again, thank you for your wonerful performance. If I can ever be of assistance to you, please don't hesitate to call.

Sincerely,
Lori Nance Parrish
Broward County Commissioner
District 5
- Broward County Comission


Dear Grant:

I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your doing a concert for my students at Sunset Park Elementary. As a teacher of the gifted, I am always looking for new, exciting ways to present the curriculum to my students. Your presentation of Florida history and geography through music definitely falls into that category.

The children loved getting to see the first flag of Florida and trying to remember the names of the counties that you managed to make into a song. Not only did you capture their attention but you got them involved by handing out song sheets and getting them to sing along. Your stories about Julia Tuttle, Henry Flagler and other historical characters were enjoy and remembered. In fact, when we went to St. Augustine, I overheard the children saying, “Oh, remember when Grant talked about Henry Tuttle?”

Thank you for all you do for the children. You are an educational treasure!

Sincerely,


Betty Friedrichsen
Teacher of the Gifted
Sunset Park Elementary School
10235 SW 84 Street
Miami, FL 33173 - Sunset Park Elementary School


Discography

Grant has three CDs of original songs:
Let Me Off the Leash
Florida Rain
The One That Got Away

Photos

Bio

Grant Livingston has been a favorite at folk venues since the mid-eighties. An offbeat sense of humor comes through the stories told in Livingston's songs. His lyrics are relentlessly positive, whether he's teaching "a sailing lesson in three easy verses," (Pointy Side Up) or planning his own funeral! (A Little Invitation) As a guitarist Livingston employs a style which is a mix of ragtime, country blues, and early swing. He also adds his interpretation of classic songs from the 1920s to his performance of originals.

In the finest tradition of storytelling, Grant Livingston weaves history, environment, and a sense of humor though his songs. His positive, energetic performances have audiences of all ages laughing, singing along, and talking about the show long after it’s over! A champion of the 1900-1930 style of ragtime, swing, and country-blues, Grant appears throughout the South at theatres, state parks, folk festivals, restaurants, coffeehouses and schools. Grant's songs reflect his love for his native South Florida, earning him the title of Miami's Historian-in-Song.

Named by the Miami New Times as 2003’s Best Acoustic Performer, Livingston has three recordings of original songs to his credit. Let Me Off The Leash (2001), was produced in conjunction with Nashville producer Cliff Goldmacher, and capitalizes on his Livingston’s swing influences. The One That Got Away (1997) is a solo recording which features guitar and vocals. Livingston's oldest recording, Florida Rain, focusing on Florida's history and environment, was updated with new songs and released on CD (2003). Grant 's music was the subject of two short films on Miami WBPT-TV's "New Florida" series, and he has been heard frequently on public radio in Miami, Tampa and Gainesville.

Einstein and Gypsy Rose on a road trip, a guy who is way serious about eating pie, a French-speaking cat in a graveyard, armadillos, barnacles, an unleashed dog - you'll meet them all (and more) in the songs of Coconut Grove singer/songwriter Grant Livingston.

Named “Best Acoustic Performer 2003” - Miami New Times

“Livingston mixes ragtime, blues, and swing with unusual topics, combining observational humor with the scratchy Victrola style of the Squirrel Nut Zippers”. - Creative Loafing, Atlanta

“Magical - his word really lighten the soul” - Miami Herald

“He may have an easygoing demeanor, but Livingston surprises listeners with his biting wit and cerebral lyrics . . “. - Miami New Times

“. . . his ragtime, blues, and swing approach guarantees a laid-back, snorking good time” - Moonlight Music Cafe, Birmingham

Band Members