memorial CD 2: field recordings

In October 2008, friends and family collaberated on two CD compilations for Harris’ memorial. This one is a collection of raw recordings from parties, basements, studios, kitchens and gigs (with lots of notes).

01.sweet sue
Recorded at Mark Libkuman’s house. Summer, 2002
Patrick Farrell (accordion), Sxip Shirey (guitar), Harris Wulfson (violin)

02.all blues
Recorded at Jason Sypher’s house. 2002
Jason Sypher (bass), Harris Wulfson (violin), Nate Landau(violin), ?(guitar)

Harris and I met in 2001. I had just pulled my fiddle out of my closet after sixteen years of musical neglect and was teaching myself how to play old timey tunes by busking at green markets around New York. I was looking for people to learn from and when I met Harris I was immediately impressed by his virtuosity and down to earth demeanor. We spent hours playing music together. Me as a student. Harris as a teacher. We became fast friends. In 2002 we marched in the Mermaid Parade together and wrote a song with a number of other musicians which won us the best musical act medal. The night that solidified our friendship was a party at Jason Sypher’s apartment. It was one of those parties where everyone in attendance seemed to be a musician and, once started, the impromptu jams never quieted for more than five minutes until the wee hours of the morning. Up until this night I had known Harris could play bluegrass and old time, klezmer and other Eastern European forms but I had never heard him play jazz or swing. Sometime around 2am someone started talking about how Jason was a jazz bassist. Harris took the bait and launched into a few numbers which impressed everyone in the room. All of us Americana players, stuck in three keys and major scales, were taken aback by his ability to play in Bb and run licks like Stephane Grappelli. Most of us just sat back and listened. I think these were the only jams that night which silenced most of the musicians in the room. -Nate Landau

03.minor swing
Recorded at Jason Sypher’s house. 2002
Jason Sypher (bass), Harris Wulfson (violin), ?(guitar)

04.honeysuckle rose
Recorded at Jason Sypher’s house. 2002
Jason Sypher (bass), Harris Wulfson (violin), ?(guitar)

05.klezmer bulgar in a
Recorded at Mark Libkuman’s house. Summer, 2002
Patrick Farrell (accordion), Sxip Shirey (guitar), Harris Wulfson (violin)

06.odessa bulgarish\Recorded at Mark Libkuman’s house. Summer, 2002
Patrick Farrell (accordion), Sxip Shirey (guitar), Harris Wulfson (violin)

07.szol a kakás már
Recorded at Golden Festival, NYC. January, 2003.
Patrick Farrell (accordion), Harris wulfson (violin), The Bodó Band from Nagykálló, Hungary; Béila Marssó (violin), Katalin Támas (viola) János Erdei (bass)

08.jewish csárdas from szek
Recorded at Golden Festival, NYC. January, 2003.
Patrick Farrell (accordion), Harris wulfson (violin), The Bodó Band from Nagykálló, Hungary; Béila Marssó (violin), Katalin Támas (viola) János Erdei (bass)

I met Bodó Band around a campfire in Romania in the summer of 2002 and we immediately developed a lasting friendship. I was thrilled when they announced they were coming to the U.S. for a while at the end of ’02 into spring of ’03.

Harris, Sarah, and I had already been jamming together on klezmer, old-time and Hungarian tunes whenever I would come through NYC, around the dinner table at Mark’s house or whenever we could. So when I came up to NY again in January ’03 to play with Bodó Band at the Golden Fest, I told the two of them to bring their fiddles along to the show. After the proper Bodó Band set in the little room, we absonded to the dressing room for some more fun. I remember running into Harris and Sarah on the steps and telling them, “Go get your fiddles and bring ’em right now!” What ensued was another two hours of more Hungarian and old-time fiddle music, with Bela leading the way, and at times 4 other fiddlers latching on, with a growing crowd of enthusiastic dancers and audience members egging everyone along. That’s when these recordings were made.

These two songs are from the neighborhood where Bodó Band is from, and I knew Harris knew them as well, so I remember telling Bela we should play them, and Harris jumped right in. They were all of course impressed with his playing and kept going over tunes for him to learn as well, which he was picking up without a problem. It was memorable, and afterwards they would always ask about Harris and Sarah and how they were doing.

At the end of the night, around 4am, a bunch of us got on the local A train running from Inwood, and within a few minutes of getting on, Harris and Sarah had opened their cases once more. they proceeded to serenade the whole car with old-time tunes and singing all the way to Brooklyn. It was just one of many nights where, as long as there was an instrument around, Harris would keep the party going with his endless repertoire of tunes until we were all worn out or it was time to part ways.
-Patrick Farrell

09.eastern european tune #1
Recorded at Jason Sypher’s house. 2002

10.eastern european tune #2
Recorded at Jason Sypher’s house. 2002

11.”some greek thing”
Recorded at Mark Libkuman’s house. Summer 2002.

12.garfield’s blackberry blossom
Recorded at Ilan Moss’s house. February, 2002.
James Ruchala (banjo), nate Landau (fiddle), Dave Green (guitar), Harris Wulfson (fiddle)

13.goodbye girls, i’m going to boston
Recorded at Ilan Moss’s house. February, 2002.
James Ruchala (banjo), Dave Green (guitar), Sarah Alden (fiddle), Harris Wulfson (fiddle)

14.nobody eats at linebaugh’s anymore
Recorded at Jalopy for John Hartford Tribute Night. January 4th, 2008
Sarah Alden (fiddle, vox), Harris Wulfson (guitar, vox), Jo Dejarnette (bass)

One night, probably in 2001, I went over to Harris’s apartment on Bedford Ave. to play music. When I got there, Harris asked me if I liked John Hartford, to which I replied, “Well I guess I haven’t listened to enough to really say.” Then Harris said, with a very enthusiastic tone, “Well…” and brought out nearly all of John Hartford’s recordings and proceeded to DJ his hits for the rest of the evening. Just when I thought there was no more he said, “Ahh, yes I have a DVD of his last performance on Mountain Stage” and I quickly fell asleep, happily satiated with the sounds of John Hartford. I was now initiated into the dorkishly-obsessed-with-John-Hartford Society.

So when we heard that Jordan Shapiro was putting together a John Hartford tribute night, Harris and I jumped at the chance to unleash some of our dorkish love for John Hartford. And this song was one from that evening at Jalopy.
-Sarah Alden

15.up on the hill/boogie
Recorded at Jalopy for John Hartford Tribute Night. January 4th, 2008
Harris Wulfson (lead vocals), Jordan Shapiro (guitar, vocals), Jonah Bruno (banjo), Dennis Lichtman (mandolin), Rob Hecht (fiddle), James Kerr (dobro), Roger Grossman (bass, vocals)

The John Hartford tribute night was almost in its 4th hour by the time we got to “Up On the Hill.” Of course Harris was still sitting front row, center in the audience, having a great time. When I realized the vocalist for that song hadn’t made it to the gig, I called out for Harris to come up and sing it. He quickly jumped up on the stage without any instrument in hand. He sang the song with a huge grin on his face, having a blast, performing the music of one of his favorite songwriters. We were unable to stop the fun after the song ended and went right into the unplanned “Boogie” rap.
-Jordan Shapiro

16.sitting on top of the world
Recorder on August 9th, 1990.
Performer by Berklee Bluegrass Boys: Harris Wulfson (fiddle and mandolin), Dave Sollors (guitar), Alex Rabb ( bass), Porter McClister (banjo)

So, Harris and I, along with Alex Rabb, who played bass with the Harris n’ Dave Experience, went to Berklee college of Music’s summer jazz program in 1990. Harris was the only violin student, and as a special case (and of course, a special talent0 he took one-on-one master classes with Matt Glaser. Somehow, we hooked up with an older student (we were 15 or 16, so almost anyone was older) named Porter. I have his last name and a North Carolina address for him written down somewhere. Anyway, Porter had a banjo, a high lonesome voice, and an inclination to play bluegrass, and the four of us became the Berklee Bluegrass Boys. This was a time when most of the people at Berklee were long-haired metal guitar warriors who were into Yngwie Malmsteen and two-hand tapping, so we were sort of oddities. I think we played at a talent show at Berklee, but mostly, we went over to Harvard Square and played for folks there. We were pretty loud and we irked some of the mainstay buskers, including Mary Lou Lord, a Boston-area staple whose big claim to fame is that she says she had an affair with Kurt Cobain.
-David Sollors

17.bluegrass fiddle clip
Recorded 2002 at Harris’ apartment on Bedford Ave.
Harris Wulfson (fiddle)

This is a clip from a fiddle lesson that Harris gave me in preparation for my first bluegrass gig. He was incredibly patient and sweet. He explained all the boring stuff, he made that really great happy face while he played amazing fiddle solos and was so encouraging to me in my awful attempts to play bluegrass fiddle. I really hoped that if I just sat and listened to him play all those amazing things on the fiddle that it would rub off on me. Harris was and still remains such an inspiration to me.
-Sarah Alden

18.forked deer
Performed by CalArts Bluegrass group. Recorded spring 2005.
Storm Neilson (guitar), Nick Rosen (bass), Wes Corbett (banjo), Harris Wulfson (fiddle)

19.1952 vincent black lightning
Performed by Sweet Jebus. Recorded at the Knitting Factory on January 21st, 2004.
Harris Wulfson (mandolin, vocals), Matt Donahue (drums), Juliana Trivers (violin), Ben Herzog (bass), peter Bibring (electric guitar), Ryan Dorin (keyboards), Michael Gomez (lap steel guitar), Mark Yokayama (acoustic guitar)

One time in 2003, I approached Harris about being in a honky-tonk band that I was trying to form. He agreed but only on the condition that he get to play drums (I failed in my attempts to get him to learn the pedal steel guitar). Harris didn’t really play the drums, but I had no doubts he could pull it off. I was impressed that even though he was such an accomplished string player, he wanted to challenge himself with something different. For the show at the Knitting Factory, the band was in transition, so Harris played some numbers as the drummer, then we did the ol’ switcheroo, and I went on drums and he came out front to play the mandolin and sing. Playing this song was Harris’ idea and he came up with the arrangement that included the polyrhythms and, in one part, no rhythm. It’s a testament to his mad skills that he can keep time and keep singing while all that racket is going on behind him. I think this was the only time we played this live though we may have reprised this when we played his birthday party in his parents’ living room in Great Neck.
-Matt Donahue

20.wake up (and greet the dawn)
Copyright 1992 Harris Wulfson and David Sollors
Harris Wulfson (mandolin, violin, electric and acoustic guitars, bass, tambourine, drum programming), David Sollors (lead vocals, background vocals) Deborah Feldman (Background vocals)

21.funky kipah
Harris n’ Dave

Harris n’ dave started as a friendship circa 1983. After a few years, Harris decided that I would learn how to play music so that we could play music together. He started me on an autoharp that had been gathering dust in the back of a closet at our high school (Harris was always very effective at optimally exploiting available resources), and then I moved on to the guitar. we began as a dreadfully earnest folk duo. We brought our instruments to school every day. We played outside the cafeteria and older kids threw things at us.

Eventually, like Dylan, we went electric. Unlike Dylan, we felt sort of guilty about it. We added drums and bass and it became the Harris n’ Dave experience. Later, we added a horn section (the Brassholes), backup singers (our girlfriends), keyboards, a DJ and a lady rapper (Tanya E.), and became the Harris n’ Dave All-Star Funkuation Band. That was when we graduated (or “funk-u-ated,” if you will) from high school. Our graduation present was to book two days in Sabella Studios of Roslyn, where Public Enemy had recorded something or other at some point. we recorded our two-song demo, “Hurricane Jane” and “Wake Up And Greet The dawn” there. Harris played all the instruments. When I got bored of watching him play all the instruments, I went into the break room and watched the 1992 Democratic Convention, so if you know when that was, you know the exact dates on which we recorded.

Harris n’ Dave survived as a friendship, but pretty much ended as a band after we went off to different colleges. We did reunite the summer after our freshman year to play some shows in Manhattan, and then when we were roommates the summer after our sophomore year, we dabbled in the somewhat regrettable white hip-hop experiments of which “Funky Kipah” is an example. As I recall, “Funky Kipah” uses an unlicensed sample from The Temptations’ “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me),” though most of it was played live by Harris including the bass line and the klezmer bit at the end. We recorded it in my Dad’s bedroom (we were living rent-free at my dad’s while he was away for the summer).We played it live at some shows in NYC that summer, 1994, and maybe possibly did one last show over winter break.
-David Sollors


Memorial CD 2: Field Recordings


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