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I am still not sure how I feel about the whole iPod, mp3 and music download thing, supposedly the future of music. In spite of the fact that Apple Computer has used my music in their iPhoto software program for years, they recently rejected my request to sell my music on iTunes. I will soon be exploring other ways of selling downloads. I get it that it is easy and convenient; you donıt have to buy a whole CD to get one song; you can put 5000 songs in your shirt pocket etc. I also immensely enjoy the extra sound quality that real CDıs have, and I love my LPıs and reading their liner notes and holding that cardboard jacket in my hand. I also like boxed sets with copious historical notes & beautiful packaging. None is clearly superior in all ways to the other, though I did gladly let go of the 45rpm record and the 8-track. Digital downloads and tangible CDıs may simply co-exist rather than simply battle each other forever. They can in my house, and perhaps will do so in the world at large. Earlier technologies can be more capable than newer ones of conveying emotion. The black & white photo is more ³primitive² than color, but is ³more artistic.² For the first time the new popular standard for music is lower quality than the previous one, and we may lose elusive ³artistic² content. The sound quality of a cell phone call is lower than a ³land line² and I wonder if separated lovers who rely on a cell phone to keep their relationship alive will not do as well as lovers who use a land line.

The phone has nurtured relationships for decades, and seems to do it better when there are wires involved.

The LP vs. CD vs. mp3 debate is similar. I had an insight while looking online to buy a book. It was written in the 1920ıs, and I found a 1960ıs paperback reprint for $6. There were hardback editions, ranging from the 1930ıs to the 1950ıs, for $10 to $100, depending on their condition, and how ornate they were. For over $300 I found a leather-bound 1st edition. A closer look also found it on Project Gutenberg, a web site that offers free downloads of books in the public domain. I even had a choice of a text-only download or one with formatting. This was very similar to the music issue, and once again I did not see that any one of the choices clearly defeated the others. In fact I was so unable to decide what I wanted that I did not buy any of the editions. I did download the book for free, but I have not read it, though it has been on my laptop for several months.

It sure was easy to grab a quote from it: "It is only by preserving faith in human dreams that we may, after all, perhaps some day make them come true."


Joyce and I got invited by Doc & Rosa Lee Watson themselves to perform this year at the biggest and most amazing festival in our world, the Merle Watson Memorial Festival (known as Merlefest) We dragged 6 instruments and our 9-month old boy from Maine to Wilkesboro, North Carolina to play music and hang out with the tens of thousands of players and lovers of acoustic music. We somehow managed to get there and get to all of our shows, and it was pretty exciting to be part of something so huge and impressive.

I had to walk, but Joyce & Otto got to hitch a ride with Doc.

Otto (in a backpack) watching papa tune before the show.

My favorite photo of the year, maybe of my life. Otto meets Doc.




This review comes from

Bluegrass Unlimited



This review comes from Bluegrass UNLIMITED
“As talented as Harvey Reid and Joyce Andersen are individually, somehow the interlacing of their musical souls creates a potent magic that is more than just the sum of one plus one. Add to that the combination of 18 Christmas songs, most of which are old friends, and you have a warm, luscious album that comforts, entertains, and transports.
One of the best things about a Harvey Reid album is the clarity of the recording. No studio tricks here, just musicians and instruments. It’s like having them in your living room, and it gives these Christmas songs an intimate, uncluttered, soothing texture.
Many of these cuts are familiar carols. A few are from the popular side of Christmas: the bluesy “Merry Christmas Baby” and Willie Nelson’s “Pretty Paper” bring a dollop of fun to the recording. Still others are contemporary songs using the Christmas platform to examine today’s world: “Song Of The Magi” is a quiet, almost eerie look at Bethlehem, both past and present, while “First Christmas Away From Home” is a heart-breaking reminder that, for some, Christmas isn’t always a joyful time.
The acoustics of Christmas Morning are warm and enveloping. Joyce’s fiddle playing is both sweet and commanding, while Harvey’s guitar work is often breathtaking in its deceptive simplicity. Whether fingerpicking a delicate melody or sliding up and down a bluesy guitar neck, each note seems to crystallize momentarily before dissipating into the cosmos. “Adeste Fidelis,” done as a guitar and violin instrumental, is a beautiful example. Likewise, “Away In A Manger” pairs the violin and autoharp to close the album on a note of hopeful joy.
This is a Christmas album to be cherished and played year after year. Make it a tradition in your home as you trim your tree or entertain friends and family.” (2005)




The biggest thing in mass culture this year was American Idol, which drew the largest number of viewers of any TV show. Not that I measure my life by mass culture (quite the opposite) but as a purveyor of “unpopular” music I can’t help at least glancing at popular music like peering over the fence to see what the neighbor is doing, or maybe like the wino peering into the bakery window.
I remember when karaoke first came to my area, I organized a group of musicians to go to a karaoke bar to gawk, possibly make fun or it, and certainly to be grossed out, alienated and appalled. Try as I might, I could not help but feel that those people’s hearts were in the right place, and I found myself wishing that someday they could sing with real human musicians backing them up rather than a cheesy Japanese robot. But they were real people and they were singing, and doing it in public with their friends, and I respect that, even though I still have never done karaoke myself. My wife Joyce is great at it, which I admit sort of makes me jealous, when she does a song by Tina Turner or someone like that.

American Idol also has its heart in the right place, or perhaps I should say the reaction of the American people to it is heartfelt, and I honestly can’t disrespect it. What I like to do when I hear a singer is to get a sense of who they are, and clearly the voting public feels empathy and kinship for certain performers more than others, which is just what they should do. This is much better than worshipping pop stars, and it celebrates non-corporate, man-or-woman-off-the-street kinds of people. And I am convinced when I go to open mikes now that random people are more supportive and tolerant of performers at open mikes than they used to be as a spin-off of the American Idol phenomenon. When an open mike started, a lot of people used to get up and leave, and now I am pretty sure that they have more reverence for amateur music, because it is actually a popular phenomenon.

And most important of all, American Idol is celebrating good old fashioned singing (though the overly bombastic, athletic, Vegas-style of singing that is not my personal cup of tea...) in a world where I regularly fear that people will be so busy with their Blackberrys, cell phones, Sudoku, e-mail, best-sellers, slot machines, web surfing, X-boxes, jet skis, mountain bikes, and everything else under the sun that attracts and occupies people that they will forget all about music. But they are sitting and watching by the tens of millions while other humans sing songs, without sex or violence or whatever getting involved-- just pretty normal music. I remember when MTV just got weirder and weirder in striving to keep people’s attention. It became less and less about people playing music, and increasingly about fantastic video collages and spinning images that attracted more attention than the music itself. I am greatly heartened that millions of people are cheering when a white guy with prematurely gray hair from Alabama sings soul music.

However, the dark side of American Idol is that it popularizes and perpetuates the usual myths about the music business and its notions of success, and it also does what I dislike about all contests, which is to make all the participants except a single winner into a “loser.” I have spent 30 years trying to stay out of that game where you essentially try to get “discovered,” or “struck by lightning” as many call it. I have strived to and encouraged other musicians to be “outsiders,” to work in the fringes of pop culture and “under the radar,” trying to just play music in a dignified manner for people, much like the old wandering bards and minstrels did for most of history. Now that Kelly Clarkson and her ilk have become household words and are selling tons of CD’s because of AI, this inevitably will help spawn a new crop of newcomers who wait passively to be “discovered” and who think that a record contract is the Golden Fleece or something. Instead of having self-esteem and just doing their art, they instead buy into this world where you are either “somebody” or “nobody” and are either famous or a loser.

It’s a life goal of mine to be neither famous nor a loser, and I feel that I have succeeded well at this-- without making any of the Faustian bargains and deadly choices that artists normally have to do when they dance with the music industry devils. I have paid my bills for 30 years with guitar and my “unpopular” music and I doubt that the American Idol chosen few are laying groundwork for long careers as musicians and artists. And it may even discourage others from doing that, which is my primary gripe about the thing. (I can already envision them some years in the future, singing over the clinking of bottles and slot machines at a late-night casino gig, valiantly but vainly trying to squeeze a little stardust and glamor from an uncompassionate environment.) Even the winners of American Idol are hardly enviable. Maybe the American people instinctively understand this, because they seem to be enjoying the contestants who lose, especially the ones who seem to be having a good time while losing. And that teaches a good lesson as I see it, and a far better lesson than the Olympics, where losers are just losers. Bodie Miller’s lovely speech about how much fun he had partying in Italy (and that plenty of other athletes stayed in their rooms, had no fun, and still won no medals) fell on mostly the deaf ears of people and advertisers who only craved a champion.

So for now I will refrain from badmouthing American Idol, which did occur to me before I thought it through, though I think I am quite glad I am too old to audition for it, and perhaps I will even watch a whole show. I am also dreading all the copycat contest shows that are inevitable. Maybe someone with an autoharp will win one, though. That would be something to hope for.


For years performers have been offering cruises and vacations where people like you can hang out with us artists and a group of other folks/fans, and everyone seems to agree it’s a good idea. I have been thinking about doing this for a while, but since I get seasick I have avoided the cruise thing. People have suggested the idea where we pick a great place to go, like the Caribbean or the coast of Maine (during the warm time of year!) and book a small hotel or bed & breakfast with a number of couples. The participants pay for travel & lodging plus an “entertainment fee” that pays the artist. Either a week or a long weekend seems like the thing to do, and there would be a performance every night (by me or maybe and/or Joyce if she comes along) and the possibility of some private lessons in the daytimes. I enjoy hanging out with you folks, and know enough songs to be able to do plenty of shows. I like the idea of people having their days to explore and do other stuff instead of sticking to a “teaching-only” curriculum thing that a lot of people do.
E-mail me () if you might want to do this. We would have to book it at least 6 months in advance I would guess, and I am psyched to try it out.


Joyce Andersen, my wife and oft-times music partner, is still climbing the ladders of success & knowledge, and shows no signs of slowing.
This year she toured with me, played solo acoustic gigs, & was an awesome mom. She also put together a great 4 piece band and played a weekly gig close to home, and rocked York, Maine. Her singing, songwriting, fiddling & guitar work are stronger than ever, and the world is noticing. We are making plans to maybe record another duet CD next year.

Visit Joyce at www.joyscream.com


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