The VIP Lounge with Betsy Siggins

The former director and founding member of Club Passim will soon receive the Passim Lifetime Achievement Award from Joan Baez

Betsy Siggins, left, with Joan Baez at Tanglewood in 2018.
Betsy Siggins, left, with Joan Baez at Tanglewood in 2018.Courtesy photo (custom credit)

Betsy Siggins, founder of Folk New England and a central figure in the region’s folk music scene for decades, will be honored Thursday, Nov. 14, at Club Passim’s 60th anniversary celebration at the Boch Center Shubert Theatre, where musical talents including Patty Griffin, Josh Ritter, Dar Williams, and Peter Wolf will perform. The 80-year-old Cotuit resident, a former director and founding member of Harvard Square’s Club Passim (originally called Club 47), will receive the Passim Lifetime Achievement Award from close friend (they met in the late 1950s as freshmen at Boston University), activist, and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Joan Baez. “This is such a nice surprise,” Siggins said in a recent phone interview. “I’m lucky in that I found a passion in folk music very, very early and was fortunate to be involved with people making a difference in the world.” Siggins, who lives with Hugh McGraw, her partner of 40 years, has a daughter, Leah, and several stepchildren and grandchildren. Earlier this year the Boston native was honored at the Wang Theatre Folk, Americana, and Roots Hall of Fame, during which Mayor Marty Walsh proclaimed Feb. 28 “Betsy Siggins Day.” We caught up with Siggins to talk about all things travel.

Favorite vacation destination?


India. My trip to India [in the late 1970s] was with my then husband, sponsored by the Ford Foundation, for two weeks of conferences about the closing — and in some cases jailing — of the press during Indira Gandhi’s press blackout. Then we flew straight to Kashmir where we stayed in a summer palace. There was music and dance on Lake Dal and an amazing donkey ride up to the Pakistan border, where we were turned back by a soldier with a long rifle. It was a life-changing experience.

Favorite food or drink while vacationing?


Sauvignon blanc from New Zealand.

Where would you like to travel to but haven’t?

Ireland. Too fabulous for words, [and I] might find relatives.

One item you can’t leave home without when traveling?

Comfortable walking shoes.

Aisle or window?

Window. I always am so thrilled to see the world below.

Favorite childhood travel memory?

As a teen my dad would take me from Cape Cod to New York City and to Broadway shows. They helped shape me into the person I am today.

Guilty pleasure when traveling?

Knowing each trip will influence me about a new place and culture.

Best travel tip?

Don’t over pack.

Juliet Pennington can be reached at writeonjuliet@comcast.net.