Songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Harvey Reid has honed his craft over the last 40 years in countless clubs, festivals, streetcorners, cafes, schools and concert halls across the nation. He has been called a "giant of the steel strings" and "one of the true treaures of American acoustic music." He has absorbed a vast repertoire of American contemporary and roots music and woven it into his own colorful, personal and distinctive style. His recorded output of over 500 tracks on 27 different recordings, released between 1982 and 2012 on Woodpecker Records make a major statement, and have attracted a great deal of attention in the acoustic music world. His sparse, unproduced recordings have been discovered by music "purists" worldwide, and showcase his unparalleled mastery of many instruments and styles of acoustic music, from hip folk to slashing slide guitar blues to bluegrass, old-time, celtic, ragtime, and even classical.
Reid's skills and versatility on the guitar alone mark him as an important voice in acoustic music. He won the National Fingerpicking Guitar Competition and the International Autoharp competition, and Bill Monroe's Beanblossom bluegrass guitar contest. Yet he's also a veteran musician with a long list of studio and band credits, a strong flatpicker, a versatile and engaging singer, a powerful lyricist and songwriter, a prolific composer and arranger, a solid mandolin and bouzouki player, and a seasoned performer and captivating entertainer. And he plays the 6-string banjo and the autoharp like you've never heard. (Doc Watson was a big fan, and invited Reid to perform at Merlefest, sat and listened to all his performances, and even took him to lunch to ask him how he played the music on his 6-string banjo record.)
Reid started playing guitar in his early
teens in Maryland, and fell in with the now-legendary DC-area bluegrass
scene. After street-fiddling and playing old-time and bluegrass music for close
to 8 years, he moved into his van in the late 1970's and began pursuing solo acoustic
songs & instrumental music, primarily fingerstyle acoustic guitar and autoharp.
After stints in a bluegrass band in Colorado, playing Telecaster in a country
band in Virginia, and a winter in Nashville, Reid migrated to Northern New England,
playing 5 nights a week on the "blue-collar" folk circuit in Maine and
New Hampshire, while developing his own distinctive blend of American acoustic music.
Although Reid has been somewhat reclusive, his reputation as a musician's musician has spread far and wide. Even though he is not associated with any record labels or hype machinery, his music is having an impact. Reid was included on the 1995 Rhino Records Acoustic Music of the 90's CD, and his Steel Drivin' Man CD was voted by Acoustic Guitar Magazine as one of the 10 Essential Folk CD's of all time, in company with Woody Guthrie, Joan Baez and other hallowed names. His music appeared on the blockbuster BBC television series Billy Connolly's World Tour of Scotland. He has become a featured act at many of America's premier concert clubs and festivals, including Merlefest, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and the Walnut Valley Festival. Radio DJ's and critics nationwide are discovering his remarkable recordings, and audiences coast-to-coast are flocking to catch his exciting and uplifting concerts. A number of other artists have covered his songs, and he has done quite a bit of teaching at guitar and autoharp camps.
Reid has also made his mark on the acoustic music world in other ways. He is responsible for most of what is known about the partial capo, and pioneered essentially all of the common partial capo configurations in use today, including the nearly-universal Esus or "E-suspended." He was the first to record and publish music for the partial capo, and in 1980 he co-founded the Third Hand Capo Co. Also in 1980 he wrote the first college textbook for folk guitar, titled Modern Folk Guitar, published in 1984 by Random House and still in print. Harvey convinced Fishman Transducers to develop the Acoustic Blender amplification system, worked on the design team, and wrote the instructions for it. He may have been the first acoustic independent musician to make a CD, probably made the first "desktop-published" book (in 1980), and certainly was among the first to release DAT digital recordings. Reid helped usher in the modern era of direct-to-digital "DIY" recordings with a series of articles he wrote for acoustic music magazines in the 1990's. He was also the first artist to endorse Taylor Guitars, and began doing promotion for them in 1983. He has also worked with and endorsed Bose, Deering Banjos, Larrivee Guitars, Bourgeouis Guitars, Shubb Capos, GHS and Elixir strings and a number of other products. Reid's success "under the radar" of the music business has become a role model for a large number of young, independent musicians who want to pursue careers outside the music industry.
Since 2010 he has been working a a major project to organize and publish information about partial capo guitar
music. The first 5 Capo Voodoo books have been released. While
researching partial capos, he discovered a hidden guitar tuning that has now become the Liberty
Guitar Method, and in 2013
he plans to release this major new idea to the guitar world. It is an exciting breakthrough in simplified guitar that will
greatly benefit children, beginners, and anyone with hand injuries or less than 4 fingers.
Reid prides himself on his independence, and sees himself as a modern embodiment of the ancient minstrels. You'll find elements of the traditional troubadour, the modern poet-songwriter, the American back-porch picker, the classical virtuoso, and even a good bit of Will Rogers style dry humor and satire. You'll hear folk, country, classical, blues, ragtime, rockabilly, Celtic, bluegrass, and popular music influences. Although Reid has a vast repertoire of traditional and contemporary songs, his concert material consists mostly of his own compositions and traditional music.
Don't miss a chance to hear the Master Minstrel in concert or to hear his amazing recordings. He how has two young children, and is not traveling very much these days.
A Musical Biography of Harvey Reid
"...one of the true treasures of American acoustic music ." ACOUSTIC GUITAR MAGAZINE
"Reid is truly a giant of the steel strings...wonderful twists of originality and emotional depth... a wealth of techniques and ideas." GUITAR PLAYER MAGAZINE.
"Harvey Reid is a one-man history of acoustic music." The Missoulian
folk-style artist deserving of wider popular recognition... Unlike some virtuosos,
he brings wit and panache as well as technique to his music." BOSTON GLOBE
"...Reid dazzles an audience with an array of stringed weapons." DENVER POST
"An incredible solo guitarist.... Reid plays mandolin, funky slide guitar blues, ethereal 12-string and scorching electric with equal authority; and the best part is, he's really fun."
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