Innovative guitarist returns to Tahoe
A dedication to family life and a Maine winter hastened the production of Harvey Reid’s new album, the release of which coincides with an appearance at Lake Tahoe Community College at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 18.
Reid spoke from his southern Maine home March 9, before heading out on a two-week tour through California and Nevada. It had snowed 6 inches that day.
“It deepens our character,” he said. “It gets so deep sometimes we can’t stand it.”
Reid is a solo guitarist with 21 albums. But the last four records have been collaborations with his wife of five years, Joyce Anderson. The two have two small children, so now they are both resuming solo careers. One will tour while the other says home with the family.
Reid has made the California-Nevada trip for 19 years, but previously always in January.
“It’s not fair for me to give my wife the key to the snow blower on Jan. 7 and say ‘I’ll see you in three weeks, baby.’ So I decided to push it back and make a new album, and I got it done.”
“Blues and Branches” celebrates the slide guitar and will offer some surprises for Reid’s longtime followers. It has a blues autoharp track, a country and western song on a dobro, a “screaming” lap steel tune and “a bluegrass autoharp thing that is the fastest thing I’ve ever played in my life,” Reid said.
“I thought it was time for me to make a record and show the world that I haven’t gone soft hanging out with my beautiful wife singing harmonies,” he said. “My fans want to hear me rip it up a little bit and play some pretty strong music. They’re going to get a pretty strong dose. They’re going to shake their heads and go ‘Wow, I guess he isn’t over the hill yet.’ “
Reid describes his music as “unpop,” saying he’s made a good living for 35 years not chasing the bright lights.
“I lived in Nashville in the ’70s I saw the game and I didn’t like it,” he said. “I didn’t want to play that game. I looked to find a way to feed myself and lead a dignified life as a musician. I found a middle ground. I didn’t want to live in my car anymore, and I didn’t want to get involved with limousines and lawsuits and the whole game of music industry. I moved as far away from L.A. and Nashville as I could get.”
The Wednesday, March 18, show will be Reid’s third Duke Theater performance in as many years.
“I am the opposite of whatever they get at the casinos,” he said. “There always seems to be a real devoted audience that comes out to hear things that are unlike the glitzy showbiz kind of music.”
Reid is an innovator. In the late 1970s he invented a partial capo for his guitar, an accessory which enables a player to shorten some of the strings and create hybrid tuning. In 1988 he said he was the first artist to release an album independently. He never uses a set list.
“There’s no way I can do a show that’s scripted,” he said. “I have to do what my spirit demands at the moment, and I’ve got decades of songs rattling around in me, so some weird stuff might come out right about when I come to Tahoe. When I hit there I’ll be somewhere between warmed up and burned out.”