David Massengill, storyteller, songwriter and picture-book maker, “emigrated” from Bristol, Tennessee to the Greenwich Village folk scene in 1976 with a dulcimer and a dream of bohemian nirvana. He was a key figure in Jack Hardy’s Fast Folk which featured Suzanne Vega and Shawn Colvin and which produced 115 issues of The Fast Folk Musical magazine, now part of the Smithsonian collection.
Massengill’s song-writing style ranges from tragic mountain ballads to the lure of tender love songs and iconic political narratives. “The Great American Dream”, written in Reagan’s America with each verse sung in the voice of a different worker, is even more poignant today. His songs have been recorded by Joan Baez, David Bromberg, Chad Mitchell, the Roches, Lucy Kaplansky, Tom Russell, Nanci Griffith and his mentor, Dave Van Ronk, who once said: David “took the dull out of dulcimer.” Dave on Dave: A Tribute to Dave van Ronk is among Massengill’s six CDs, 11 bootlegs, 15 books, movie score, Boudicca Bites Back, school programs. In 2016 the Southern Folklife Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill offered to archive his works. He accepted, thus joining his friends and heroes Dave Van Ronk, Bill Morrissey and Mike Seeger as a member.
The Boston Globe loved his “upbeat humor, enticing stage presence and ability to sling an Appalachian dulcimer over his shoulder like an electric guitar made it look and sound right. The multi-talented Massengill, a master of vivid lyrical imagery, was riveting with his ironic, anecdotal civil rights anthem,’ Number One in America’.”