Len and Wendy
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Len and Wendy

Band Folk Acoustic


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"Folk couple strums to their own beat"

By Jordan Bartel, Times Staff Writer
March 9, 2006

Husband and wife folk duo Len and Wendy Seligman have an interesting way to describe their original acoustic music. They see it as part young Joni Mitchell and part influential guitarist Ry Cooder.

OK, so that's really not that out of the norm. But they also see their music as reflecting the spirit of 13th century mystical poet Rumi.

In the world of folk music, that's just a bit different.

"His words and those of other ancient mystic poets are the inspiration for a lot of my music," Len said. "They are spiritual and positive, really fun and full of energy and life."

Len and Wendy will be performing their unique acoustic folk to Finksburg's Cedarhurst Coffeehouse on Saturday.

The pair lives in Silver Spring, but often performs in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore areas, including several gigs in Westminster coffee shops.

They married in 2003 and started performing together almost two years ago. They write separately, sometimes together and both play the guitar. Len often has double-duty playing the mandolin.

And they both sing. It's their favorite part of performing together-harmonizing in the way that they do, sharing lead vocals.

"He's the best part of performing together," Wendy said. "Our voices blend together really well."

And to Len, being able to sing with Wendy is his favorite part of performing.

"It's a nice connection," he said. "It's great to take these songs that we've created and get them out in the world."

Len and Wendy met in 2000 at a singles party, where, fittingly, there was dancing and music. They instantly connected through their shared love of music.

Len, who grew up in Mountainside, N.J. had been performing music since he was 15, winning spots on arts festivals and getting featured times at open mic nights in New York City when he was still in his teens. From the mid-1970s to early 1980s, he started playing guitar and mandolin with various folk and rock groups on the East Coast.

Wendy also had music in her blood. Growing up in Vienna, Va., she began playing guitar at 13 and sang in high school. She started writing music in the 1990s, eventually appearing as a solo singer with the group High Spirits.

"We right away got to talking and music came out for both of us," Len said. "Music came out right away."

Their next get-together? Wendy went to go see Len play at an improv music night.

Since they started performing together in 2004-mostly at coffeehouses, cafes, pubs-they've continued to write music and eventually recorded their debut album, "Flow" in the summer of 2005.

The album, a 12-song set of all original material, was, in the words of Len, "recorded in a very exclusive studio" -their basement.

They recorded it on their own time over a span of about a year, laying down tracks whenever they had a free moment

The two also have non-musical day jobs. Len is in database management research in the field of computer science. "I go back and forth between the nerd world and the art world," he said.

Wendy is a lease administrator for a property management company.

"Len is a really fun performer," Wendy said. "I love to harmonize, but I'm a little more shy than Len. I think we balance each other out and the audience responds to that."

Wendy said she gets a lot of her songwriting inspiration from whatever grabs her fancy at any given moment. For instance, a recent song, "Easy Chair," was written after she spent a relaxing summer afternoon sitting in her Adirondack chair in her backyard. Wendy likes writing these kind "fun" songs, she said, but also writes a lot about issues that women experience.

Other themes of the duo's work include issues of spirituality and the beauty of nature.

The pair said they often like to play in smaller, more intimate venues.

"For what we do we prefer that there be a lot of attention on the music," Len said. "If there's only 15 people but they're really into the music, I'm happy."

Len and Wendy have children in their blended family. Wendy has two children in their 20s, and Len has two teenagers. Both said their children are very supportive of their music.

Though their children expose them to more current music, they all are able to connect through shared musical favorites. "They like groups like Talking Heads, The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen," Len said. "We're all learning a Springsteen song together."

Len and Wendy said they plan to continue playing as often as possible in the area and are slowly recording another album, due perhaps next year.

"I hope that people get inspiration from our music," Len said. "I hope that they have a lot of fun, laugh a little and leave inspired."

Reach staff writer Jordan Bartel at 410-857-7862 or bartelj@lcniofmd.com.
- Carroll County Times, Maryland

"Grammy-nominated recording artist David Darling"

"...gorgeous harmonies, passionate originals, and soulful, virtuoso guitar playing...[Len] is without a doubt one of my favorite guitarists." - email

"Award winning singer songwriter Cosy Sheridan"

"These guys are joyous and so is their music! Great harmonies - and songs with a great message (and sing-able chorus!)" - email

"Love, folk pop and spirit in the 'Flow' at Sangha"

(The Gazette reaches 1.5 million Maryland households in Montgomery, Prince George's, Frederick, and Carroll counties.)

by Chris Slattery, Staff Writer
July 27, 2005

Len Seligman's love affair with music goes back a long way; his musical partnership with wife Wendy is newer. But the two passions dovetail on Saturday at Sangha in Takoma Park when Len and Wendy, as the singer/songwriter duo is known, release their debut CD "Flow."

"There are a number of songs that have something in them about flowing," says Seligman, a researcher for Mitre Corporation who has been married to Wendy, a lease administrator for a property management company, since 2003. "'Like a Waterfall.' We call it inspiring and fun mystic folk pop."

At its core are the Seligmans. Len had been, back in the day, a full-time musician years ago who opened for the likes of Phil Ochs; played folk and rock music up the seaboard from Virginia to Maine; and trained as a strolling singer in a restaurant in Hoboken, N.J. For many years, Wendy performed in choirs and small folk groups.

"We met in 2000," says Seligman, "at a party for an organization called Spiritual Singles. "I found out she was a singer/songwriter like myself, and we started sharing our songs together."

The personal preceded the professional in this case, however.
"I heard her songs and her voice and I said 'Wow!'" he admits. And yet, "Before we started singing together, we fell in love."

Sing Sangha

Where else would a happily married pair of formerly spiritual singles launch their debut? Sangha describes itself as "a fair trade store." It's decorated with art and artifacts from Tibet and other endangered cultures: beaded jewelry from Amazon tribes, figurines created by artists who once lived under apartheid in South Africa, silk bags and scarves manufactured by survivors of Cambodian land mines. Sangha -- the Sanskrit word means "spiritual community" -- has woven a web of connections since Jennifer Carter opened its doors on Sept. 11, 2001, expecting it would be just another day.

For Len and Wendy, spiritual community extends to the guest artists on "Flow." "The best known of the guest musicians is David Darling," says Seligman. "A Grammy-nominated cello player. Also my brother Jon Seligman: He's a professional percussionist, and he's on the faculty at McDaniel College in Westminster."

Jon performs with Len and Wendy on "Flow," as does Wammie-nominated multi-instrumentalist Stream Ohrstrom. "He plays the ney," says Seligman, "which is a Persian reed flute that has a wonderful longing quality to it, which is reminiscent of Rumi." Rumi is the Sufi poet of love, a 13th century Persian lawyer-philosopher who's just one of the duo's influences.

"I've been playing guitar since the age of 10," Seligman explains. "I played in a rock band in high school." At 19, he was performing at an open night at The Bitter End in New York's West Village. "They invited me back for a featured spot," he recalls. "Still unpaid, but very exciting for a 19-year-old."

He played in New York, New Jersey and Boston, then moved into the field of computer programming in the early '80s. Seligman has lived in Silver Spring since 1990, and he and Wendy have been performing together at area clubs since last year.

"We have some fun and funny songs," says Seligman, "and a spiritual side, too." Saturday evening, though, starts a new chapter.

Folk/pop duo Len and Wendy will perform a CD Release Celebration Concert at Sangha Cafe, 7014 Westmoreland Avenue, Takoma Park, on Saturday, from 8 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door. Call 301-891-3214. - The Gazette

"Indie for all: Look to local artists for unique, diverse talent"

"The acoustic folk duo turned neighbors into fans with spirited guitarwork, lush harmonies and witty lyrics."

Full article:
Indie for all: Look to local artists for unique, diverse talent
By Robin Tierney
Special to The Examiner
Published: Friday, August 12, 2005

Looking for small, unique host, housewarming and other gifts for those people who have everything? Something that doesn't spill, clutter, wither or wreck diets, while still pleasing the senses? Keep an ear out for fresh homegrown music.

Indeed, spectacular musicians of every genre abound around town. For reasons ranging from the desire for creative control to simply evading the radar of major label talent scouts, these vocalists, instrumentalists, bands and songwriters record as independents.

These indie talents and their gift-worthy CDs can be found in a wide variety of venues, including some unexpected places like rec centers, boutiques, museums and food markets. Here's a sampling of gifted artists we found in our travels around town:

- Wayna. While perusing the artful attire at Trade Secrets, a U Street boutique, I had to know what CD was playing. The answer: "Moments of Clarity: Book I," a showcase of original songs through which singer-songwriter Wayna Wondwossen shares life-lessons learned.

Wondwossen, who was born in Ethiopia, immersed herself in blues, soul and show tunes upon arriving in America. On the wings of her voice, this songbird sailed from University of Maryland's gospel choir to gigs at area bookstores and nightclubs to cross-country engagements. Returning home to Bowie recently after a Manhattan, N.Y., performance, Wayna looks forward to fall when Takoma Station's Chocolate City Cotton Club resumes its Sunday local artist series and jam sessions. In D.C.'s hip-hop community, "the artists support each other," Wayna says. "We've been blessed with good buzz from area music lovers who want to play, and help independent artists." She might not be a best-kept secret much longer: The August issue of Essence praised her fusion of hip-hop, soul, R&B and jazz - which you'll find at wayna.net.

Concertgoers purchase music of local bands who perform at a free outdoor concert held by Strathmore Music Center as a tribute to The Band in Bethesda, Md., on Wednesday. Andrew Harnik/Examiner
- Nicki Gonzalez and Trio Balança. Complementing its Women & Blues exhibition, the National Museum of Women in the Arts downtown hosted several July concerts in its grand lobby. Surrounded by visual masterpieces, Gonzalez displayed vocal artistry as she, drummer Jamieson Tobey and pianist Wayne Wilentz wowed the crowd with Brazilian songs and American standards.

Coming from a musical Filipino/Spanish family, this prodigal daughter formed The Nicki Gonzalez Band, entered a local songwriting contest - and won. The awards kept coming, including Washington Area Music Association Wammies for Best Latin Vocalist, Jazz Vocalist and Pop Group for her band, whose "Spilt Milk" CD (at ngband.com) features nine originals fusing pop, jazz, Latin, blues and world beat. Reaching yet another fan base, the Sterling chanteuse has sung the "National Anthem" at Washington sports events.

Look for Trio Balança at local jazz brunches and at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden? Check out their new CD, "Chiclete com Banana," at triobalanca.com.

Soloist Wayna Wondwossen performs at Pearl Restaurant and Nightclub in Washington on Thursday. The August issue of Essence praised her unique blend of soul, R&B, hip-hop and jazz. Andrew Harnik/Examiner

- Len and Wendy. On Aug. 2, at a National Night Out crime awareness event held in a Silver Spring recreation center, it was the late '60s again - in a good way. The acoustic folk duo turned neighbors into fans with spirited guitarwork, lush harmonies and witty lyrics. One could envision Len Seligman in his past life as a traveling troubadour. "This is not our typical gig," smiles Len. The married duo has played festivals, coffeehouses, weddings and worship services areawide. On July 30 at Takoma Park's Sangha, a combination Fair Trade store/performance space, they celebrated the release of their debut recording, "Flow." The 12 originals include the gorgeous "Home." "It's a love song I wrote for Wendy," explains Len, who reveals his good nature when adding that the CD also features a song about "Wendy's fantasy of running away from life's responsibilities." Find it at lenandwendy.com.

- Mystic Warriors. I first heard this low-key Rockville/Silver Spring instrumental group in a historic church during a past First Night Annapolis. My friend bought their "Beyond Reality" CD on the spot. I found their more recent releases this summer at Glen Echo's Washington Folk Festival, where the band's ethereal flutes, panpipes, charango and other string instruments carried us to the cooler altitudes of the Andean mountains. Listen for them as they pop up at area festivals - and sample some truly magical tra - DC Examiner


“Flow” (2005), co-produced by Len Seligman and Tom Espinola, featuring 12 original songs and guest appearances by Grammy-nominated cellist David Darling, percussionist Jon Seligman, and WAMMIE-nominated multi-instrumentalist Stream Ohrstrom. Available from http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/lenwendy and http://www.lenandwendy.com.

“All My Relations” (2005), Dances of Universal Peace Childrens Project. We appear on five songs on this CD, including lead vocals on three songs.
Info: www.peacedance.org/res-all_my_relations.htm

Film Credit

“Coming of Age: The Path to Adulthood” (2003), documentary film directed by Josh Blinder. Len performs his original song “Sons and Daughters of Life.”



Len and Wendy share songwriting and lead vocals and feature wonderful harmonies and dazzling guitar and mandolin playing.

They released their debut CD, “Flow”, in 2005. Folk Era/Wind River recording artist David Roth remarked: "Len and Wendy's 'Flow' is wonderful - a solid variety of honest songs, nimble and tasteful playing, singing, AND it's not overdone - it actually sounds like they do when I hear them live (kinda rare for a CD these days)...and a treat either way." Cellist David Darling exclaimed, “Gorgeous harmonies, great songwriting, and soulful, virtuoso guitar playing. Not to be missed!"

Len Seligman began playing guitar at 10 and performing at 15, winning a spot at the New Jersey Teen Arts Festival at 17. When he was 19, he was invited to an open mic feature spot at the Bitter End in New York, following an open mic appearance. From 1974-1982, Len played guitar and mandolin, sang, and wrote music with various folk and rock groups from New York to Maine. He opened for legendary folk singer Phil Ochs and once supported himself as a strolling singer in Hoboken, New Jersey. While pursuing a computer science research career and raising a family, he continued to perform around metropolitan Washington, DC.

Wendy Seligman began playing guitar at 13 and sang with her high school madrigal group and chorus. She began writing music in the 1990s and has appeared solo and with the group High Spirits.

Len and Wendy met and fell in love in 2000. Soon, the two were co-writing music. They were married in 2003 and started performing in 2004, receiving enthusiastic receptions at clubs and coffeehouses. Wendy's songs "The Seed" and "Silence" were Finalists in the 2006 Mid-Atlantic Song Competition, while her song "Willow Tree" received an Honorable Mention award in last year's competition.

Selected Venues: Len and Wendy

• Cedarhurst Coffehouse, Finksburg, MD
• Songwriter's Association of Washington Showcase, Caribou Coffee, Olney, MD
• Sangha Performance Space, Takoma Park, MD
• New Deal Café, Greenbelt, MD
• St. Elmo's Coffee Pub, Alexandria, VA
• Broken Heart Cafe, Havre de Grace, MD
• "Music Matters" Showcase, Mad City Coffee House, Columbia, MD
• Pour House Coffeehouse, Westminster, MD
• Arlington United Methodist Church Coffee House, Arlington, VA
• Hollow Reed Teahouse, Interfaith Concert, Naional Cathedral, Washington, DC

Selected Venues: Len (with bands)

• Cerridwin's Coffeehouse, Silver Spring, MD (with Bottomland)
• Takoma Park Street Festival, Takoma Park, MD (with Turnabout)
• Taliano's, Takoma Park, MD (with Turnabout)
• The Courtyard Café, Arlington, VA (with Turnabout)
• Old Brogue, Great Falls, VA (accompanying Wendy Lanxner)
• Institute of Musical Traditions Concert Series, Silver Spring, MD, warm up for Suzzy Roche and Lucy Kaplansky (accompanying Wendy Lanxner)
• The Other End, New York, NY (5 nights, duo with Marc Gabriel)
• Mr. Kite's, Camden, ME (with Gravy)
• Jack's, Cambridge, MA (with Gravy)
• Bunratty's, Boston, MA (with Gravy)
• Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY (with Dancing Bear)
• Frivolous Sal's Last Chance Saloon (now the Chance Theater), Poughkeepsie, NY (with Dancing Bear)

Selected Venues: Len (solo)

• The Bitter End, New York, NY, open mic feature spot (invited following an open mic appearance)
• Vassar College concert, warm up for Phil Ochs
• No Name Coffeehouse, Boston, MA
• Red Herring Coffeehouse, Urbana, IL

Selected Venues: Wendy

• Coffeehouse at Unity Church, Gaithersburg, MD
• Concerts at several Washington, DC area retirement homes (with High Spirits)