I’m glad you’ll get to hear a snippet of our singalong at Spring Hill — those days seem impossibly happy now. Do you know Harris and Mark Yokoyama played my wedding song? Later that night the electricity went out and we had no music; Harris stepped in and kept the party going with his fiddling. –Michelle Tsai
Javier Garcia recorded this on his video camera. Michelle posted a shorter, cleaner version on flickr.
Who else was at Spring Hill? And what year was this?
7/21/02 – aqua fish out of aqua
Back in the greatest city on earth!
We are fortunate to have Abe Spear playing banjo with us at Grey Fox. Only 20 years old and hailing from Lexington, North Carolina, Abe is a great banjo player with his own style. We stopped in NYC for some rehersals with violinist/mandolinist Harris Wulfson who will also play with us at Grey Fox.
Since Abe had never been to the big city before we took the North Carolina boy on an grand tour. Because of all the excitement the film team from 42nd Question Productions was on hand in Manhattan, but curiously……not a camera was in sight.
We had such a great time at Grey Fox! Harris and Abe made everything sound twice as good and we can’t thank them enough. Grey Fox is truly the cadillac of bluegrass festivals—we haven’t been to a better one period, north, south, or west. It was hot, hot during both of our sets but the people in the audience were great and they put up with the terrible heat. We were absolutely soaked with sweat up on stage.
A vicious thunderstorm nearly derailed the show during Del McCoury’s set on Friday. The rain came pouring down, forcing rapid deployment of the tarp system always on hand at these outdoor events, to save the mixing consoles and other gear from certain doom. Staff and performers were huddled inside the backstage tent and everyone seemed both fascinated and concerned. Fortunately, the storm didn’t last very long asd the show got back on track. The weather was well-behaved for the rest of the weekend and the festival turned out to be a smashing success. Nickel Creek and Ricky Skaggs put on powerful performances that we will remember for a long time I’m sure. Thanks to Mary Doub for making it all happen! We were sad to leave but hopefully we’ll be back up next year.
The mp3 was taken from the video below which was given to me by filmmaker, Rory Coleman Mitchell. I am hoping there will be more audio and video coming.
In the Summer of 1995, Harris studied in Poland and then traveled though Eastern Europe with friends. I remember he called me from a payphone in Istanbul with a view of Hajia Sofia. I was living in Los Angeles at the time and at 5am and he prefaced the conversation with “Hey Michelle! Do you know that Tom Waites song “Phone call from Istanbul?”
Claude Cahn was one of the friends Harris met and traveled with that summer and he sent me the following music on audio cassette. The majority is not of Harris playing, but I wanted to put the entire recording here anyway. I also have some of the DATs he recorded that summer and his notebook from the trip that I will get on line as I come to them.
Here is the note from Claude: We were together at the Kuprivshtica festival, which is where I met him — Christina Crowder had appropriated him from somewhere. She had taken the bus from Hungary, while I had flown, because through some weird fluke Balkan Air had a special to Sofia which was cheaper than the bus (why do I remember all this?). We then went as a big Americo-Bulgar train to Veliko Trnovo, where we did some drinking and some busking (more of the former) and some listening to the earliest Bulgarian hip-hop. One of the guys we were with, who I remember only as “Vladi-Badi” (his first name was Vladimir, was a producer of Bulgarian rap). The other guy we were with was a great guitar songster type called Harry Zachariev, who had been in Syria and elsewhere working as a musician. He is the person singing on the recordings with Harris. Harry I heard died a few years ago, I think as a result of recurring hard drugs issues. Harry’s girlfriend was with us too, but I don’t remember her name. Then I was with Harris in Istanbul and we went hunting (and found) disused synagogues in an old Jewish neighborhood.
Anyway, I’ll send you the stuff. It is not much, but there is at least one gem on it (Track 1. Harris playing along to a really bawdy Bulgarian song being sung by Harry Zacharaiev).
And now for some R-rated tracks:
01 Bawdy Song #1
02 Bawdy Song #2 (All the Animals Are F*cking?)
03 Explaining Lyrics (Dirty and Not Dirty)
04 Makedonsko Devojcke
05 Say the Words to the Russian Song
06 Festival Music A
07 Festival Music A
08 Festival Music A
09 Festival Music A
10 Festival Music B
11 Festival Music C
12 Festival Music C
13 Festival Music D
14 Festival Music D
15 Festival Music E
16 Festival Music E
17 Festival Music F
18 Festival Music G
19 Festival Music H
20 Festival Music I
21 Festival Music J
22 Festival Music J
23 Festival Music J
24 Festival Music K
25 Festival Music L
26 Festival Music L
And Harris, himself, kept a notebook. Here is an excerpt:
Tuesday, August 8th
…Met Harry and Juli! Americans left. I hung with Harry, Juli, Nikki (who lives next door to my place) and Irene (Harry’s girlfriend) until 6am.
Wednesday, August 9th
Wet to record store with Harry, bought tape, CD. Had lunch with his friend, “S—-” (illegible). Went to his recording studio, “Studio-x.” Met Vladi. Saw his software. Heard rap music produced at Studio-x. Evening: Called parents at Sheraton. Pizza (good) for dinner. Met Harry and Juli at Palace of Culture (this time with my violin). Jammed until 3am.
Thursday, August 10th
Tried to be a tourist. Saw Nevsky Church, Mosque, Museum of History. Sitting on strut (?) reading guidebook, met Christina. She came with me to Studio. Met Go-Yo. Eventually we all went out. Up until 5am. She crashed at my place (she was quite drunk).
Friday, August 11th
I am now on a train to Koprivshtitsa . I am alone because the others had to stay to collect their things. I will meet Christina, Harry, Irene and Vladi there.
On train to Istanbul
Much of what I did in Koprivshtitsa is recorded in the small notebook and documented on two DAT tapes (which I have yet to unearth – m). Here are some details:
Friday, August 11th
Arrived in Koprivshtitsa. Crowded! Walked around town. Went up to hotel to try to drop my packs. They wouldn’t let me and couldn’t help me find a room. Outside, I met Cecelia and friend. Discovered she knows Christina and that she was meeting Claude in town at 7:30. I went to town and met Claude (called out “Claude” to a geeky-looking American guy). Met up with Cecelia, went to her room in a village house. Dropped my stuff there. Went to a park in town with Claude, Cecelia and ( ) [sic – m]. There was a group of musicians sitting around a table and they suddenly began to play. I recorded some of this. People were dancing too. We went back to the stage in town and found Christina, Harry and Vladi. Christina was drunk. She told me that I sucked and that my playing was too “classical” and that I had to come to E. Europe to live and learn the music. We jammed (Harry, Claude, me) but Christina was really unable to play. [she doesn’t remember anything from that night but she got a lot of scratched and bruises from falling over]. Cecelia played some rockin’ Hungarian and Irish music on fiddle. Eventually went to a different pub with Cecelia. The same band was playing (minus gadulka). Recorded and photographed. Cecelia danced.
Saturday, August 12th
I climbed up the hill to the festival proper and… oh my god! It was packed. I almost couldn’t move. There were thousands of people and everywhere there was music. Along the path there were stands with people selling food, drinks, hats, trinkets, and of course, musical instruments. Old people were walking around in their regional costumes. Children were dancing and playing. It is pretty well-documented on tape and in the small notebook. We found Irene and Nikki from Sofia. Christina, Vladi and I got a much better room in a lovely village house. Heard Irish music on the way down hill with Christina. That night we had a long jam session with Christina, Harry, Claude, Cecelia. People even listened to us. Met Svetlio (now I know all the Studio-x-ers). Zurna players were playing in the street at 3am. I taped them.
Sunday, August 13th
More festival. Left my tape recorder on for a while and walked around. Met Harry and Irene. Harry helped me look for a gadulka. We didn’t find anything inexpensive. Finally went down the hill with Christina after buying slippers and rosewater for relatives. Sad because the festival was over.
I bought a zurna. Svethio asked a zurna player to show me his moves. He was a yuppie from near Macadonia. I got to play a nice one. The guy wanted $100 so I left and then Harry bought one at the “Bulgarian price” ($30) and sold it to me. The trick was good except that I didn’t get exactly the one I wanted. No matter. Harry looks out.
Harry, Irene, Christina, Claude and I got on a train to Veliko Tarnovo. Vladi and the Hungarians (whom he called fondly “Majarbi” [??? -m]) were to follow the next day. They wanted to see Koprivshtitsa.
On the train we jammed some more. Christina taught me some Irish tunes. I wrote out lyrics to “Sittin’ on top of the world” for Harry and he wrote lyrics to
(Makedonsko Devojcke) for me.
In Veliko Tarnovo, Harry found his friend, Nikki and Nikki put up in his house. Nikki’s house is a squat right neat the river in Veliko Tarnovo. It has a great view and enough floor space for us. Nikki is a big guy. The kind of guy that you’re glad is on your side. He’s a real sweetie with a psychotic little dog. Unfortunately he doesn’t speak English.
There we played some more…
Monday, August 14th
We went to a terrace cafe in Veliko Tarnovo with a great view. I took a picture of Harry and Irene there. We chilled for a long time. It seems to be the Bulgarian way.
We were going to busk but when we went back to Nikki’s place (without him), we couldn’t find where he hid the key (he had given instructions to Harry). So instead we went to the castle and climbed around the walls. It’s another great view from there. On the top is a very strange church with socialist realist religious art! I bought a photo on the way out. In the evening, we chilled some more in a different cafe. Then we played music at Nikki’s. I recorded some, I think (check the small notebook). I tried Christina’s gaïda and regretted not getting one in Kop.
Vladi had missed all his meetings with us but at midnight, Christina decided to go again to the meeting place (near the post office). She found him there with the Hungarians and she brought them to Nikki’s. We played music. It must have been strange for Nikki to suddenly have three more people show up at his doorstep but he put them up without a word. We slept like sardines: five side-by-side on the floor.
Tuesday, August 15th
Chilled in the same terrace cafe. We played on the street for a while while Vladi went with the Hungarians to see the town. Then we chilled some more. Then we changed cafes and chilled. Vladi met us there. I debated whether to go with Harry, Irene, and Vladi to the Black Sea coast. Vladi really wanted me to go but I think Irene was sick of us. I decided to go with Christina and Claude back to Sofia so I could get to Istanbul in time to see it for a few days. So we all said goodbye in the train station.
[I have not yet located this small notebook he mentions. I will keep looking -m]
In the spring of 2006, Adam Fong, Lewis Keller, Cat Lamb and Harris formed a group at CalArts Called RADU. I know very little about this group but here are some recordings from it. Perhaps the group members can fill me in, and also let me know if any of these pieces have names. The .mp3 titles have some reference notes I added to them to try and figure them out.
The first set is from the CD that Harris compiled and titled CalArts Spring 2006. The second two sets are additional recordings from March 10th, and April 21st 2006. At least 2 of the tracks on the compilation CD came from these recordings but I haven’t yet ascertained if there are any other duplicates.
Harris Wulfson with the World on a String Band at the Ukrainian National Home restaurant, December 6, 2007, New York City. — (l to r: Sarah Alden, Patrick Farrell, Benjy Fox-Rosen, Ljova, Harris Wulfson).. . Photographed by Anna Rozenblat.
I have virtually no information here so I need a lot of help. This was one of the last bands Harris played with. The last time I saw him, he told me he couldn’t wait for Sarah to get back from tour so they could all get together and play! I took the audio clips from Flickr and added the fades to make the clips less choppy. If anyone has any recordings, let me know. They may not exist.
I’ve included the links to the Flickr movies below as well as the mp3 clip I made of their audio.
01.flikr clip 1
Freddy’s Backroom, 2007. Here is the moment during the jam where they played “world on a string” ! Harris played the ukulele for this one.
02.flikr clip 2
Freddy’s Backroom, 2007. World on a String played and then there was this fantastic jam. Pure joy. A magical night. The movie is really dark but we can see (and hear!) Harris behind Patrick.
I found this CD in Harris’ collection. The .cda files are dated 12/31/1994.
Jen Larson, guital and vocals
Tony DeLello, guitar and vocals
Todd Collins, mandolin
Harris Wulfson, fiddle
Ken Forrest, bass and vocals
A note from Jen Larson: Rhythm Ranch was the name that I came up with for that configuration and that recording date for WKCR. Tony Dilello (guitarist in NYC) made those CD’s for everyone in the group, it was never commercially released. So, in other words, that CD is one of a few copies, and a snapshot of all of us on that particular day.
Here are some more tracks Harris sent me last year.
I am not sure of the actual date(s) of the recordings. I think he sent them to me last October but they were recorded in 2006? I believe the performers are Eric Malcolm Clark, Travis Just, and Quentin Tolimieri. I don’t know who is playing what. Also I am hoping maybe Eric or Michael can tell me a little about the sessions.