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Trina Hamlin

Country of origin:


Type of music generally:

Blues-infused folk rock


Most recent release, The Hamburg Sessions (2016)

See also:

Trina Hamlin's site

Wikipedia's entry on Trina Hamlin


Often compared to Bonnie Raitt and Joan Osborne

Covers/own material:


General comments:

always amazing. Trina's name has been mentioned on the ecto list a lot over the past few years. She was a huge hit at ectofest last year, and was also voted one of the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival's "Most Wanted" for 2002. She plays a blazing harmonica, is an amazing guitar and piano player, and has an incredible, strong voice. She's also hilariously funny and a generally all-around cool person. (

Currently living in NYC, originally from Minnesota, she attended Berkelee and lived in Boston for a while. Sang with various Boston musicians, including Rick Nichols and Anita Suhanin (currently lead singer of Groovasaurus) before moving to New York and joining two other people in a new band called Blue Leaves. After Blue Leaves broke up, she started on a solo career. Originally she sang and played harmonica, when she went solo she also picked up guitar.
     Her singing voice is extremely powerful and involving. I don't know exactly how to convey it, but maybe this anecdote does the trick: the other day I was listening to Bluesology on WERS (88.9 FM Boston) and the DJ played Coco Montoya, and remarked afterwards that "nobody sings with passion like that anymore", and my immediate reaction in my head was "obviously he hasn't seen Trina!" She would stand out of the crowd if it were just for her singing, but add to that her excellent harmonica skills, and you get a really powerful and unique blues/folk sound. Trina Hamlin opened for Eddie From Ohio at the Somerville Theatre this March, and forgot one of her harps at home, so Mike from EFO lent her one of his. Afterwards when EFO was on stage, Mike said, "I think my harmonica was crying at having to return to me. Trina played notes I didn't even know existed on it!"
     Trina had a tape, which is sold out. She has one CD, called "Alone", self-produced, which she is selling at her shows. She recorded it with a home DAT deck, in her kitchen, alone :) The CD is good, but you really need to see her live to get the full effect of her performance. She connects with her audience really well, and has a personality and mannerism that remind me a lot of Susan McKeown (who she has worked with in the past). (

Comments about live performance:

The really cool thing about seeing Trina Hamlin perform in groups, especially with other musicians who have their own material, is: more harmonica! Trina is amazing on the harmonica, can play folk, blues, rock, whatever. But on her own songs, if she's singing, she can't play harmonica at the same time, so that limits how much of it she uses. When she's play with other people, she often does harmonica for entire songs (or entire sets)! (

Had the pleasure of seeing her recently at the Living Room for the first time and was immediately sorry that I hadn't looked into her music sooner. She has a few dates coming up and I would urge anyone who has the opportunity to check her out to do so. (2/11/99,

The first time I saw Trina was at 2:30 in the morning. I walked out of the last showcase [of Folk Alliance] and was ready to go home, when I heard an amazing voice coming out of a hotel room. I wandered in and found Trina in a corner playing guitar and singing gritty and emotional songs. I'd never heard her before, and was really impressed with her songwriting, the evocative guitar accompaniment, and the emotion in her voice. I later saw her do one song in a boring songwriters in the round session which didn't have anything near the spark of this show, but it didn't really change my opinions any. (3/99)
     Trina's presence added a lot to the evening, as she was pulled on to compliment Rachael's and Edie Carey's sets. Her interplay with the other performers was one of the highlights of the day. Rachael Sage's singing was accompanied by a variety of drumming from Dean Sharp, and occasionally complimented by some phenomenal improv harmonica playing by Trina Hamlin. Trina and Rachael were a great musical team, though they make a hilarious pair. The colorful, flamboyant and somewhat flighty Rachael contrasted amusingly with the Trina's earthiness.
     Trina's own set was also really solid. She's an amazing harmonica player. I can't really think of what distinguishes her from the army of girls with guitars who are out there now, though maybe it's just that there is such solid quality and musicianship running through everything she does. It all adds up to something that seems more than the sum of the parts. (8/01)
     The next night we hosted a surprise party with Trina Hamlin. The house concert that almost wasn't—as Trina hadn't been in touch for days and didn't show up at the expected time (4 to 5). In fact, when she didn't show up by 7, we asked local Anna Wolfe (who had already RSVP'ed for the show) to bring her guitar. At 7:30, Anna started in on an excellent set. No one would have been unhappy if that was all they got, but Trina called at 8:30, nearby and lost. We finally got her to the house and performing by 9.
     It was definitely worth the wait. Trina had impressed with her passionate songs and incredible harmonica playing at Ectofest. What I wasn't prepared for was Trina on the piano. Jeff's got a digital piano, and we hadn't had a performer interested in playing it. I didn't realize Trina's first instrument was piano, and music just flowed out of her hands when she touched it. She treated us to a number of piano songs, as well as a lot of the favorites I learned at ectofest. (11/01, neal)

Trina Hamlin provided scorching harmonica on the last song of [Mila Drumke's] set, a soulful number whose title escapes me, then she came back and did a gorgeous harmonica solo on the "Moon River" encore. I was there with a couple of non-ecto friends, and just those two bits alone turned one of them into a groveling Trina Hamlin fan. :) It was quite amusing to watch. (2/01)
     Last night, we went back to the Living Room to see Trina Hamlin. The Living Room (which is aptly named) had filled up to nearly bursting as her set went on, and most of the people stuck around to see Trina. What can I say besides she rocked?? She started off with a scorching harmonica number, and just went on from there. The sheer power of her voice will never cease to amaze me. She only did one song on the Living Room's crappy piano, which left me wanting more. But then she went back to guitar and harmonica and it was fine. :) "Down To The Hollow" almost literally brought the house down. The screaming crowd managed to convince the Living Room people to allow her to do an encore, a haunting a cappella version of Jimi Hendrix's "Angel" that was dedicated to all the victims of the various awful things that have happened to NYC lately. Stunning. (11/01)
     I just got back from seeing Trina at The Space, an underground space in Hamden (just up the street from here) that hosts open mics every Tuesday. She was this week's feature, and blew everyone away. She ended the evening by jamming with an open mic regular on blues harp — it was stunning. (11/02,

I had a wonderful time last Wednesday at a packed Club Passim show featuring Rachael Sage and Trina Hamlin. I've been skipping concerts lately because of apathy and fatigue, but this show reminded me of how energizing a good performance can be. Go berklee-ites. (3/01,


  • Alone (1998)
  • Living Room (1999)
  • Foundation (2002)
  • Living on Love (2007)
  • One Night Stand—Indianapolis, IN (live, 2007)
  • One Night Stand—Seattle (live, 2008)
  • The Hamburg Sessions (2016)

Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2022-08-02 18:03:31.
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