10 de setembro de 2017

Ed Harris Music and History

The singer, songwriter and musician Ed Harris was born at the Quonset Point Naval Base in Rhode Island the smallest state in the U.S. Asked about his age the artist tells us: “I’m older than I care to admit and think younger than I am! Let’s put it this way; I remember the first unmanned space flights, walk on the moon, assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and Dr. Martin Luther King, the 60’s, Vietnam, etc”.

The artist is the oldest in a family of five children. About his childhood, Ed comments it was typical of a middle-class family living in Miami, Florida. “We were fortunate in that our parents found a modest new house situated on a lake; having the convenience of a lake for a backyard, we were in the water, on the water, or on the dock fishing almost every day,” he remembers. One of his fondest memories is of his father and him building a sailboat together. “I’ll never forget the excitement the first day putting her in the water; I had been and I am blessed with a wonderful family,” he emphasizes.

In his childhood, Ed spent his weekends exploring with friends, fishing, swimming, sailing, surfing, building forts, and several good actives only find in the South Florida. On Saturday mornings, he and his friends woke up before the sun rose and came back just before it went down. “Our parents never saw us on the weekends! Though I was very outdoor active, I also was artistic. I drew, oil painted, but my passion for music had always remained first and foremost,” he points out.

Ed reveals that in his teenagers he wasn’t into team sports, but he was somewhat known around school. "I never went with the crowd, but followed my own path, seeking out what I enjoyed to do most. It was during the late sixties I attended High School and drugs were everywhere," he comments. He never attended parties; He dedicated his time studying martial arts, building custom surfboards, and playing guitar, trumpet, and organ in some. "I wasn’t very academic back then but one of those individuals who squeaked by with minimal effort as possible. However, I excelled in music classes. Music came easy for me. I’m certain it helped that I loved music so much too!" He emphasizes.

The artist tells us he can’t recall when he was first become interested in music. At the age of four to five the little Ed was always around his mother singing with her, sometimes he sang the melody and at times the harmony. She was also responsible in getting him started on guitar. “She had picked up a small child-size parlor Stella guitar; initially, she thought it a good size for herself in that she always wanted to learn to play guitar; however, and to my utter amazement to this day, she came up with the idea of open tuning the guitar to a chord,” he remembers. His first song on the guitar was ‘On Top of Old Smokey’. His mother had him lay the little guitar on his lap and while singing the tune, listened for the chord changes. "The ingenious part of this was that by using the flat handle of a butter knife, I could simply lay the knife flat on the fret to make chord changes. So, in a very short period, I was making music and playing the guitar (in a way) at the age of five and it was fun!" He adds.

The singing lessons Ed ever received was from his Mother. The artist argues he never considered himself a vocalist and never had any big interest on it. "Either, you are born with an exceptional voice or you’re not; I was not and I’m ok with that; I’ve always felt more comfortable in expressing myself instrumentally rather than vocally," he says. However, Ed adds he is able sing on key very well, and jumps into any harmony interval easily. It’s for this reason he's been favored as a backup singer during those times he was in a band.

Ed argues that to him, practicing music is like taking a shower, brushing his teeth, or breathing. "I can’t remember a day when I don’t practice; it’s not so much how many hours a day you practice, but it’s more how you practice and how frequent you practice," he adds. The artist has developed a mental type practice as well; anytime during the day even while working, he will mentally visualize finger placement, phrasing, etc. which helps maximize practice when he is able to pick up an instrument. "I have gone for twelve hour stretches in practicing at times and other times I’ve practiced multiple short periods for only fifteen minutes but maybe twenty times during the day; I would leave the instrument out and every time I walk by it, pick it up and go over a few things; practice is different for every musician," he points out.

About the difficulties in the beginning of his musical career, Ed says he really doesn’t recall any difficulties; why music to him has always given him enjoyment and sanctuary from the struggles of everyday life. "I chose not to mix the two, but keep music as a serious avocation and not pursue it as a profession; If I had to do over again, I would have studied music academically to become a composer/conductor; however, I am happy where I am musically; I can’t imagine my life without it," he emphasizes. According to Ed, he does music by love, not because he is obliged to do it, and he is pleased he has found that equilibrium.

His main instrument is the guitar; the artist started playing it when he was five. He also played trumpet in his college times. Because his earlier beginning, he is able to play some others instruments. “Just recently, I’m starting to get to where I can stand to hear myself play the fiddle after 27 years! I also play Mandola, Mandolin, Upright Acoustic Bass, Banjo, Flute, Harmonica, Bouzouki, Cittern, and others,” he reveals. Ed tells us he has had many music teachers throughout his lifetime, public school music teachers and private teachers as well. He studied classic music for some years; however, he points out that every musician is able to self teaches. “I mean after all, it’s really up to them; after learning to read music and grasp some music theory, it wasn’t all that difficult in picking up other instruments over time; there is a plethora of instructional material out there today and the ability for someone to learn an instrument has never been more accessible,” he adds.

His first instrument was the old parlor sized Stella acoustic guitar as he mentioned in the beginning of our interview. His mother gave it to him when he was five and still has the instrument. His first electric guitar was a Christmas gift. “After that, I worked mowing lawns, bagging groceries, etc. to get other instruments,” he comments. Ed tells us he had grown up in a family which was all about music. “We always had several instruments lying about the house. It was inevitable other instruments would be picked up and played with from time to time,” he says. Some of his musical influences come from Turlough O’Caralan, Andre Segovia, Henry Mancini, James Taylor, Louis Armstrong, Al Hirt, Chet Atkins, John Doyle, Leo Kottke, Kevin Burke, Liz Carroll, among others.

Ed’s first performance was a solo Trumpet recital at his elementary school in the sixth grade. “I remember I was very nervous being on stage with no other accompaniment and having to perform a difficult Spanish piece; I don’t remember making any terrible mistakes and I got through the performance ok; I remember how it felt receiving applause at the end; though there wasn’t an encore request afterwards!” He jokes.

The artist reveals us he doesn’t consider himself a songwriter although he’s written some songs which included lyrics. “I’ve always been able to “hear” melodies in my head for as long as I can remember and as a result, gravitated towards expression through instrumentation, composition, and arrangement,” he adds. According to Ed, his writing inspiration comes from life experiences, and he intentionally doesn’t listen to a lot of pop music and doesn’t listen to music frequently as well. “The reason is fear of subconsciously ‘picking up’ a melody from somewhere else while I’m composing thinking it’s something I came up with. I’m very careful about that. I listen to classical and old traditional music which inspires me for arrangement, etc,” he argues.

One of the earliest songs Ed recorded written by himself was ‘The Gift Brittany’. “This tune I had in my head for some time before having the resources to record it”, he reveals. Now the artist has his own home studio. About music collaborations Ed says: “I have never collaborated with other artists on any recording project; everything you hear is strictly solo; it’s not that I wouldn’t welcome the opportunity to collaborate, but it’s just that it’s a challenge at times getting everyone on the same page at times; balancing career, family responsibilities, etc; I have found it much easier to just learn and pursue it myself. I make music because it is my passion not to make a living at it; that is a huge dynamic and a very liberating one as well”.

The artist released four albums and has been working in his fifth called ‘Well Below The Valley’ (Traditional Celtic featuring fiddle and vocals) that will be available in his official website. His complete collection are: ‘Two Rivers’ released Jan. 2014 - (Traditional and Contemporary Celtic Music featuring solo guitar, flute, fiddle, and others) – Harris Music  Available on iTunes; ‘Celticophilia’ released Jan. 2015 – (Traditional and Contemporary Celtic Music) – Harris Music Available on iTunes; ‘The New Bern Seisiúns’ released Feb 2016 – Harris Music (Nominated “2016 Celtic Album of the Year” by INEC, Scotland – Traditional Celtic Album) Available on iTunes; ‘Reflections of the Heart’ released Feb 2017 – Harris Music (Contemporary Celtic Music) Available at: Ed Harris Official Website. In addition the artist had worked in some film soundtracks with the songs: Crawdad Slip, New Life, and 8 Weeks in March.

Ed reveals us he doesn’t perform much, he is more a studio musician; however, he enjoys taking part in traditional Irish Sessions that take place in the area and nearby towns. The artist says that music has always been central in his life, and it is not professionally, but by love. “I chose instead to keep music as an avocation; for me, it eliminates the pressure and competition and gives me complete freedom to pursue music for the sheer enjoyment and love in making music; if my music makes a connection, then wonderful! However, I’m not pressured trying to build a base of loyal fans or worrying about maintaining and keeping my fans happy”, he points out.

Ed sees music as something personal, and he prefers being far from the competitiveness; there is no vanity in his music, just enjoyment for the art. For him, the new technologies also have been a watershed in the music scenario. “New technology is impacting the music industry and creating challenges for artists unlike we’ve ever seen before; we now have generations that do not need to spend money for music; there was a time when an album would be purchased because of one favorite song; the good news is that indie artists have more tools and resources available to them now than they ever had before,” he emphasizes.

Ed adds that, although these new technologies have made possible for everyone to make amazing music without having to learn to play an instrument, performance will never become old-fashioned. “I am seeing a surge in electronic music; many of these new artists hope to land a movie, commercial, or TV contract with their works; for me, I’m just grateful to be doing what I’m doing, and I will continue to do so for as long as I’m able; It’s been a fantastic ride of which I have met some very talented, gifted, and wonderful artists and folks along the journey!” He points out. To find out more about the artist's work visit; Ed Harris OfficialWebsiteReverbNation; Instagram; Facebook; Twitter; and YouTube.

by Zel Florizel