...to see the previous (1996-97) newsletter

newsletter 1998
Here's the most recent Harvey Reid Paper Airplane & Origami Kit

If you got this in the mail, be thankful you did not have to move in the last year, and notfiy me if you would rather not get a paper one also. I rely on this newsletter to say hello, and for announcing new recordings, so I often wait until the new CD (see below) is almost done, named, and a release date set before rolling the presses.

*December 1999 is when I officially mark 25 years as a wandering minstrel. Millenium Mania will be upon us then, so I must celebrate now, since you will be too busy stockpiling salt, batteries, firewood & toilet paper to help me celebrate. I feel like my career is just beginning, though had I worked at a real job all this time I could have retired by now with a pension. (Maybe I should give myself a certificate of appreciation or a gold watch.) I shudder to think of how many snowstorms I have driven through in 25 winters, how few vacations I have had, how many "expletive-burgers" I have eaten, how many amps and speakers my spinal column has carried, how little money I have saved for retirement. But I smile when I think of how few mornings I have set an alarm, and how sweet it feels to not be as risk of being downsized or laid off, and how much music I have made.

We count our blessings, and we cling to the hope that the Gods may indeed provide for those who keep to their faith. I have kept to mine.

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A lot of the fun pictures have been moved to another page so you don't have to look at 'em...
#113 "Fruit on the Vine" is done and you can order it!

Only in America... Yes, but not Maine. (For the curious, it is Arkansas.) When I saw the sign on the highway for it (below) , there was no choice but to go there. Try to imagine saying to someone "Can y'all tell me where Toad Suck is at?" in your best Southern drawl, and have them answer you immediately with directions? These are the kind of moments that make this crazy life worth it. (I categorically deny sucking any toads while I was there.)

toad suck pic toad suck sign

* I got invited to perform in July in Norway (Scandinavia, not Maine) at the Haugesund Roots Music Festival, and will play some solo shows , but I will play guitar in a backup band with Dolores Keane (an Irish singer and a favorite of mine) as well as Norwegian singer Rita Eriksen, a new favorite, as they celebrate a collaboration CD they did called Tideland. I have to learn a lot of unusual new material, but it will be good for me.

* As I write this I am making plans to go to Kingsport TN in July to play for 20,000 people, my biggest crowd ever, for the Kingsport Funfest, where I play a shared concert with Martina McBride and David Lee Murphy. That's right near where the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers were recorded the same week in 1927, sort of the birthplace of recorded country music. I'm definitely playing some Mother Maybelle music on my autoharp.

* The big ice storms this winter missed me by a few miles. Many other parts of Maine and NH were severely affected, and my nice birch trees were spared.

* Last year I wrote about Tower Records' refusal to pay me. I wrote it off on this year's taxes as a bad debt, because those dishonest jerks there would not even reply to any of the letters, faxes, bills and threats, and stiffed me for $208.35 They also stiffed some of my friends, and I tried to get the Boston Globe to write about or help me research the extent of the problem but to no avail. You will not find my CD's at any Tower Records as long as I have a say in the matter. and I could care less if they burn down or go bankrupt.

* I got invited by Taylor Guitars to perform at the American Stringed Instrument Artisans (ASIA) conference in Burlington, VT last summer, where many of the finest stringed instrument builders were getting together. It was a lot of fun, and an honor. Without those folks, folks like me would be in big trouble, the musical equivalent of without a paddle.

no Micro-soft

The General (53k)


Yes, folks, a long-standing rumor has been confirmed. During the Gulf War, someone sent me a clipping of an interview with General Norman Schwartzkopf, leader of Allied forces, which claimed that he played the autoharp. I have discussed this rumor a great deal on stage the last few years, and I always wondered it was true or just a desktop-published fake. However, guess who showed up at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and not only willingly admitted to being a folk music fan and an autoharp player, but posed for a pic with yours truly? (He also confessed under interrogation that he wants to learn banjo.) In my set, I dedicated the old Ed McCurdy song "Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream" to him, and he said afterward that he plays that one on his autoharp, and sang along with every word.

Harv's Lonely Vigil has taken a surprising turn. I can now forget about enlisting Dennis Rodman and Hulk Hogan and all those other wannabee real men in my campaign to associate manhood and testosterone with autoharps. I have found my poster boy. I wonder how the two of us would look with milk mustaches... At ease, men. (photo: D. Richardson)

It's titled Fruit On The Vine, and will be available July 15, 1998. To make up to my loyal fans who have tolerated those re-issues, live albums and re-recordings of old things -- I have decided to release a CD with 100% never-released material, mostly new things I have written recently. A few of them I have been playing in concert the last few months, but the majority of this is all fresh new fruit. Many of them are reminiscent of traditional songs and tunes, being some amalgam of various musical flavors. Its 60+ minutes of music include 7 songs & 10 instrumentals; with 5-6 solo pieces , 7-8 duets, collaborations with some of my musical partners: Brian Silber-violin, viola, Rick Watson-keyboard, Lynn Rothermich-vocals, Anne Dodson-vocal +tin whistle, David Surette-mandolin, Matt Szostak- hurdy giurdy, T.S. Baker-vocals, Gary Sredzienski: accordion, Kent Allyn: bass) I think it will be some of the best material and the best performances I have ever released, and there is good stuff for those of you who like lyrics, harmony singing or fancy picking. There are 3 songs on it that I did not write: a Sacred Harp hymn, an Australian mining ballad, and a Si Kahn milltown song. There are 3 new autoharp pieces, 2 for the octave mandolin, one for 6-string banjo, 4 guitar solos, including 1 slide guitar & ragtime guitar piece #4.


$16.95 + $2 shipping for CD's/ $10.95 + $2 shipping for tapes (the tapes are not ready yet-- sorry)

207-363-1886 (24 hr voicemail)

minstrel quote

Woodpecker shadow
Move your hands forward and back again for a pecking motion. The index finger of your left hand makes a branch. Your left thumb, clasping the little finger of the same hand, hides both.

I need to enroll in dentistry school, because it is time for me to find out if the copyright laws have any teeth. You know how I rant about the importance of copyrights in the finances of the music business? In a friend's living room in Los Angeles, quite by accident, I discovered that there is a song called "Waltz of the Waves" on a CD titled "Musical Tour of Scotland" by a folk musician named Billy Connolly. It is played on autoharp in the key of F, and is very clearly a tune I wrote in 1988. It is credited as "Traditional/Arranged by B. Connolly." Well, Billy is a very big deal, is a famous comedian, actor (he was in "Mrs. Brown" and "Head of the Class" TV show, an HBO special with Whoopi Goldberg, and even had a brief show of his own called "Billy.") Not only is this a major-label CD, but it was on the soundtrack for a blockbuster, award-winning TV show on the BBC. A website I found brags that 400,000 copies of this video have been sold! Billy is actually shown playing my song on this video. It was aired in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, and I am owed a considerable sum of royalty money. I am assuming it was a mistake rather than intentional theft, and I am honored that Billy liked my tune & that all the Scots that watched the show did not notice the tune was out of place. And somebody important and cool plays autoharp! It will prove to be very interesting to see whether or not I get my royalty money, since this is a complicated legal problem.

I am now initiating the letters and contacting lawyers to shake the tree to see if I can get some coconuts. It will be interesting to see if an obscure folk musician from Maine can take on Polygram Records and get what I am due. (This is David vs. Goliath. Record companies don't get any bigger than Polygram. ) I am going to set up a web page to update all of you on this issue, with a link on the Hot News page at http://www.woodpecker.com giving the latest on the story. Wish me luck, folks.

guitar class pic

Taught a guitar class again last summer at Augusta Heritage Workshops in Elkins, WV and had a grand time for a week with this group of students. They were a fine bunch. It's a wonderful place to learn about music and meet people for a week. (K. Harris)

This year's best review came from close to home, from the Portsmouth (NH) Herald.

"A mere glance at the song list of this two-disc compilation shows that Harvey Reid is a walking repository of this country's folk music heritage. As if it weren't enough that Reid has apparently immersed himself in every musical style imaginable, these performances demonstrate his ability to play like a damn cyclone.

Maine resident Reid already has a near legendary reputation in folk music circles, but this was my first encounter with his style; let me assure you, his technique is nothing short of astonishing. He wields with awe-inspiring skill the 6-string, 12-string and slide guitar, autoharp, bouzouki, banjo, and probably even a yo-yo string if he had to. His singular talent is evident from the very first track: an instrumental of Reid's own composition played on 12-string guitar, it eerily mimics the sound and droning melancholy of Celtic bagpipes. Simply amazing.

In Person, besides showcasing Reid's crisp and lyrical fingerpicking, displays his startling command of roots music. He understands snd performs bluegrass, Delta blues, Southern spirituals and traditional Appalachian folk with devotion, passion, and complete fidelity to the spirit of the originals. Twelve of the 30 tracks are of Reid's own writing, and it is the highest compliment that I can pay that his originals lock seamlessly with the haunting traditionals he does so well. You simply can't tell them apart without checking the songwriting credits.

His Sing Me A Lullaby is a perfect tribute to blues spirituals; Reid sounds as if he is channeling both Blind Willie Johnson and Willie McTell in this gorgeous, poignant slide guitar masterpiece, a song that nearly matches up to Willie Johnson's "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground."

The production is clean and crisp; it's impossible to tell these songs are live until you hear the audience cheer. It's likely that you will, too- this is as good as modern folk music gets, by a master of the idiom. Have I been raving? I suppose so, but as Chuck Berry would undoubtedly say if he ever heard Reid: "When people pass him by they would stop and say, my but that little country boy can play." (Jared O'Connor)

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