banner headline

Page 2 of the Online Edition of the 2011-2012 Harvey Reid Newsletter...

Go to Page 1 of this Newsletter   /    Read old newsletters

ME, BILL KIRCHEN AND MARCY MARXER Summer Guitar Camps Are A Blast- In spite of the busy schedule and constant late-night fun, I managed to survive and thrive for a week in Elkins WV in 2011 teaching guitar at the Augusta Heritage Workshops “Guitar Week.” Here I am in a thoughtful moment with the other instructors Bill Kirchen (of Commander Cody guitar picking fame) and multi-talented Marcy Marxer. Guitar hero & coordinator Mary Flower took the picture and should have been in it.

Joyce Andersen
Hello From Joyce Andersen
Motherhood is the Necessity of Re-invention, so I got inventive. Enter the Violin Troubadour gettin’ her Swerve on!
20 years of musical adventures: side gal fiddlin’, folk duo touring, band leader struttin’, singer-songwriter coffeehousin’ and restless genre-crossing has all led me to a new exciting live solo sound. In 2000 I recorded my first solo violin/vocal songs on “The Girl I Left Behind” and they have remained some of my most requested. I made 4 CDs as a guitar-strumming singer-songwriter who also played the fiddle. But it’s hard, on stage, to be your own side-gal, launching into a fiddle break when you’re on guitar.
2 years ago with the boys tucked in bed, I started figuring out how to do it all in a solo show. Harvey pulled out his old electric guitar gadgets and we explored some new rockstar gear to see how it would translate to the fiddle and viola. With the excitement of an artistic re-birth, I began writing, arranging and jamming day and night, playing in new ways, fueled by old & new songs, a love of improvisation, a big dose of electric guitar envy, the desire to rock (with no time for a band) & a deep connection to that mysterious magic that gets you playing music in the first place...
Now it’s a CD called Swerve, all recorded live, all solo, just like I do it on stage, and best of all, my die-hard fans are loving it. With a tambourine under my left heel and my right foot on a kick drum, I can back up a torch song on jazz bass, play old-time fiddle tunes like never before, rock out on a Hendrix tune, or compose a bed of string lines over one of my new strummed fiddle groove-loop songs. With the beauty & tone of an instrument perfected centuries ago flaoting inside new sonic landscapes I generate with my gear, I feel like an explorer, and I am able to go to musical places and improvise in ways I never dreamed of. And yes that is a belly dance coin skirt in the photo...
Join me! Get Your Swerve On!
Swerve CD cover

More capo voodoo

You probably know by now that my most recent musical endeavor has been to expand my efforts to stake out a corner of the guitar world, and to educate as many people as I can about the hidden world of new music that you get from partial capos.
I have been a singer, picker, autoharp player, songwriter and wandering minstrel for a long time, and I have done thousands of performances and released over 400 songs & instrumentals of acoustic music, dating back to 1982. Through all of that time, I have made constant use of a new tool for guitar (the partial capo) that allows a new set of possibilities. It has allowed me to play a lot of new music that can’t be done otherwise. Partial capos are inherently confusing, and I have gotten frustrated a few times over the last 35 years at how reluctant many players are to enbrace the confusion. A few times along the way I stopped trying to convince other people to try them, and just went ahead and played my music, with the partial capo information just some tiny print in the credits to my albums. For something that costs as much as a pizza and gives you a lifetime of new music with the skills you already have, it should be welcomed with trumpets and fanfare.

For over 20 years there was only one partial capo in the world, which I named the Third Hand Capo in 1980. There are now almost 20 kinds of them, they are made by almost a dozen different manufacturers, they do a wide variety of things, and tens of thousands of players all over the world are experimenting with them. The problem is, if you give one to a guitar player, it is very unlikely they will find much of the amazing music. Partial capos just don’t give up their secrets readily, and only the tiniest tip of the iceberg is being used by even players who are already using them. The people who make and sell them barely know a tiny fraction of what they can do, and only the Third Hand Capo comes with in-depth instructions that give an idea of how much can be done with them. (I wrote the instructions myself.)

Add to this the fact that partial capos not only allow good players to do amazing things, but they also allow intermediate players to play all kinds of music that they otherwise could not do, and possibly best of all, partial capos can be used to greatly simplify chord fingerings and allow beginners, children and people with special learning situations or hand injuries to play great-sounding guitar music and be the life of the party if they want to.

Third Hand Capo"Third Hand" Capo

Spider CapoSpiderCapo


After a lot of thought, I have decided that the best way to get the word out is to make a series of books and recordings. I know that books are supposedly obsolete, but in my Capo Voodoo: Book 1 for example, I show you 24 ways to put a 3-string capo (probably the most common type) on the guitar, and I give you over 1200 chords you can play. It would take many hours of video to show you the same body of information, and even then you wouldn’t be able to remember it and you would need to have it written down somewhere.
I published 2 books of guitar arrangements that show how I play them, but since so few people read music or TAB, and most people want to play their own music, my new books will be “chord books.” They show where to put the capos, where to put your fingers to get the new sounds, plus a lot of notes & suggestions.

I have now finished 3 books, that are each almost 100 pages, packed with ideas, chords, tips, photos, diagrams, advice and capo strategy that is not found anywhere else on earth. Book 1 focuses on the popular 3-string “Esus” capo and how to use it. Book 2 is for the shortened “sawed off” capos that clamp 4 or 5 instead of all 6 strings, which are the other most commonly used type of partial capo. Book 3 shows over 30 ways to use the much lesser-known one and two-string Woodie’s G-Band capos, and Book 4, which I will hopefully finish in the first half of 2012, will show another bag of tricks that can only be done with a universal partial capo such as the Third Hand or SpiderCapo.
I also intend to make a book that shows how to use partial capos in DADGAD and other common tunings, since so many players think of the capos as being a substitute for altered tunings (which is not really what they are) and don’t realize that you can easily use partial capos in any tuning. (Books 1-3 involve almost 20 different tunings.)

Right now the focus of my energies is on a brand new thing I have discovered that makes it very easy to play an astounding amount of great-sounding music, and those of you who always wanted to play campfire guitar now have a remarkable new way to play folk, bluegrass, rock, celtic, blues, pop and even some jazz much more easily then ever before. I haven’t named it yet.
The 2 volumes of Capo Voodoo CD’s are instrumentals and songs that use various partial capo configurations, and they are another way to illustrate the musical value. I will work steadily until I have gotten as much of this knowledge as I can out of my head and into the world, since it appears that I am the only one who knows most of this information. I used to think it was a good idea to keep a lot of this hidden and to myself, and now I think it’s a better idea to share it with the world.

Woodie's G Band Model 1 CapoWoodie's G-Band Capo
Kyser K-Lever capoKyser "K-Lever" Capo
Capo Voodoo Songs CD coverBUY NOW

Quote: “One of the monks, called Serapion, sold his book of the Gospels and gave the money to those who were hungry, saying: I have sold the book which told me to sell all that I had and give it to the poor.” The Desert Fathers

The out of print blues

It happened again. I complained in my last newsletter about being unable to find a lot of good music I wanted to buy. I just came across my tattered copy of a record I have always been fond of, titled “Soul of a City Boy” by Jesse Colin Young. He recorded it in one day in 1965, and I have always thought it was as good an example as anything out there of how to make a great record quickly without overdubs or studio trickery. Just sit down with your guitar and sing some songs. I went to the computer to buy a digital download copy. No luck. Not available. So I thought I would buy a CD so I would not have to listen to the scratchy old vinyl. No such luck. Out of print, and the cheapest used copy I could find was over $200. What is going on? He is a well-known guy. It’s a great work of art. Why can’t anybody buy it? I understand that people are not pressing recordings, but that’s the problem the digital download thing is supposed to solve.
This adds to a lengthening list of important music I want to buy but cannot. I also wonder why the book “Hard Hitting Songs For Hard-Hit People” is also out of print and impossible to find under $150 for a used paperback. Written by Woody Guthrie & Pete Seeger, compiled by Alan Lomax, forward by John Steinbeck. It’s a national treasure, paid for by federal money I understand, and Amazon wanted $423.96 for a copy as I write this.
They create the illusion that all the information we need is on the internet, but when I go looking for specific things, I am amazed at what is out of print and unavailable. There ought to be a Facebook-like icon everywhere that says “WANT” instead of “LIKE” so you can send a signal that you would buy something if you could.

A Workshop Moment In conjunction with my big project to assemble and propagate the information on using partial capos on guitar, I have started doing some in-store workshops to spread the word and let people see and hear up close what is going on. Here is a moment from a workshop at Stuzman’s Guitar Center in West Rochester, NY where I am showing a 2-capo-with-retuning trick to Dave Stutzman himself. (Photo: Charles Collins) Me with Dave STutzman

ESSAY: Old Answers to New Questions

I’m sure all of you are feeling some anxiety about the future, no doubt due to the cataclysmic changes going on around us and the sense of acceleration we’re also feeling. Society, the economy, the political situation– it’s all in flux and all of our crystal balls are cloudier than we would like.
I see a repeating pattern in a number of areas where it seems that at least some answers to what the future holds may lie in the past. With food, for example, it’s pretty clear that the solution to a healthy, green, sustainable food supply involves more family farms, local produce, farmer’s markets, backyard chickens, root cellars, gardens, fewer chemicals and other ancient ideas. In medicine and pharmaceutical fields there is a noticeable push toward more holistic approaches, especially for chronic problems that modern medicine has a poor track record with, like depression, pain, insomnia and even allergies. Breast-feeding, walking, yoga, extended-family day care, reading books to kids, midwives– it’s a growing list of old-fashioned ideas that are steadily gaining adherents in the areas of birthing and raising children and keeping us more fit and healthy. People are now running barefoot instead of wearing highly-engineered running shoes. The news media are also changing dramatically, and grass-roots news reporting is growing fast and challenging the old institutions as citizen journalists post pictures, videos and stories of what they are seeing happen. So many things people did a century ago are turning out to be sensible and affordable, and I am sure you can add to this list easily by looking around you also.
This leads me to wonder if perhaps the music business, which is also in a dramatic state of change, may also be headed backwards in some ways. Could it possibly come to more closely resemble the music world that pre-dated the “music industry” as such? Just as the 75-year commercial strangleholds of the food and medical industries are loosening, it is tantalizing to me to imagine the future of music looking more like 1920 than 1990. I have been reading a number of history books lately, and am pondering how the music industry evolved, and what people did before radio and television and before there was a recording industry.
People entertained themselves and each other, though there were local concerts and some musicians did concert tours. The first centralized music business involved selling sheet music to people to play on their pianos at home, and as the recording and broadcast industries took over, the focus of entertainment moved from amusing yourself to watching or listening to others do it. Elijah Wald points out in his fabulous book about the history of popular music that dancing has remained the only old-fashioned entertainment that young people generally still would rather do themselves than watch professionals.
The popularity of YouTube shows also that there is much less central control of what we enjoy or know about music. People are discovering more music than they ever were able to before, and the decades-old model of the Hit Parade, where most people basically heard the same Top 40 popular songs is dwindling fast. People have their own very diverse music collections, and they are no longer limited to listening to what is on the radio or in the record stores.


It’s exciting that so much of what people are watching on YouTube is musical performances and not just Sneezing Baby Panda and Charlie Bit My Finger videos. YouTube is also causing a big change in how we appreciate music, and the old-fashioned idea of watching someone play well is at the center of it. You can’t watch Steely Dan painstakingly piece together their perfect studio recordings. The corporate hand that stocked the record store shelves and made the radio playlists all through my lifetime is losing its grip on us. Things are chaotic now, but I can’t help but feel that they are headed in a culturally healthy direction, even though my own income and sales of recordings are down.
We are entertaining ourselves with our iPods and smartphones and by surfing the web, going on Facebook, YouTube & Pandora. It’s not the same as playing piano in the parlor, but I see it as a big step in a healthy direction for people to be more involved, less passive, and to not just be swallowing what they are force-fed by multi-national entertainment corporations. For decades the TV networks, record labels and even big book publishers controlled a massive percentage of the whole landscape. I am pretty sure this kind of central control is diminishing quickly, and it seems to be a good thing in a number of ways.

I heard that several prominent guitar & banjo companies have just had their best sales year ever. No big ad campaigns are telling people to play music. There is no secret PAC fund run by shadowy billionaires to shape public opinion and encourage people to play home-made music, but apparently people are doing it. Attendance at summer music camps is up, and seems to be the only part of the music business that I have contact with that is not shrinking. When I look at the people playing the instruments I am interested in, I see a lot of good news. Young players are doing wonderful things with the fiddle, guitar, banjo, dobro, and mandolin. They are playing pop as well as bluegrass and gypsy jazz, and writing songs. Undoubtedly due to the age of information and the ease of finding lyrics, TAB, recordings and videos of good players, the skill level and interest of young players has really jumped in recent years. This is really a genuine grass-roots phenomenon, and it can’t be attributed to propaganda campaigns.
So if you feel like you might get a deeper pleasure out of strumming on your guitar on the back porch than by playing Angry Birds on your smartphone, you are one of many. It should comfort you to know that the urge to play home-made music is a doorway to an ancient and reliable pleasure, and more people than you think are going there, for good reason. It is a green, sustainable thing, and it does not enrich the 1% in any way either. The music industry may be in rapid decline, but the power of music to move people is not weakening. (BTW-It has not helped music at all that pop music has had essentially all of its dynamic volume range squashed flat in the insane loudness wars of the last 15 years. A CD has 96 decibels of dynamic range, and a modern pop song uses about 6 db of that between the loudest and quietest parts. If modern pop music bothers you or fails to move you, this is a big contributor.)

Think about what a song meant to people a century ago, and how that same kind of meaning is still there waiting for us. The price of admission to the home-made music world is low, and they never ask you to leave.


Go to Page 1 of this Newsletter       Read old newsletters

PO Box 815 York Maine 03909  USA
phone (207) 363-1886

Lyrics About Harvey Reid
Concert Schedule Lyrics
Catalog of Recordings Buy From Us
Say Hello to Us Booking Information
Books The Song Train
Newest Recording About Joyce Andersen
Newsletter About the Partial Capo
Listen to Audio Lyrics
Hot News Listen to Audio
Guitar Tunings Interviews
Articles & Essays Reviews
Publicity Info Out of Print Music
Publicity Photos Lyrics
Downloads Listen to Audio
Say Hello to Us Favorite CD's
Harvey's Gear  

Harvey Reid Concert Schedule |Harvey's Blog | About the Liberty Guitar Method|Catalog of CD's and Tapes|Discography|About this Web Site & What's New Here | Hot News | Woodpecker Home Page | About Harvey Reid |The Song Train | Video | Audio | About Joyce Andersen | Books by Harvey Reid | Get On the Mailing List... | Concert & Record Reviews | Interviews with HR | Lyrics to Harvey Reid Songs | Harvey Reid Annual Newsletters | HR's Guitar Tunings | About the Partial Capo | Articles & Essays by HR | HR's Gear | HR's Favorite CD's | HR's Career History | Booking Info | Publicity Info & Download Files |

This web site concerns the music and life of acoustic musician & music educator Harvey Reid.

If you don't find what you want, or if you have comments or questions, please email to