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CD63 -

Harry Tuft - Across the Blue Mountains


Across the Blue Mountains
California Boy
Griesly Bride, The
Harvest Song
I Saw Her As She Came and Went
In 1845
Lord Gregory
Lucy Ann Rag
Mermaid, The
Mrs. Ravoon
Old Dolores
Snowbird
Sweet Substitute
You Gonna Quit Me, Baby





Ably assisted by Dick Weissman, Ed Trickett, Artie Traum, Jay Ungar and Laraine Grady Traum, the genial proprietor of the Denver Folklore Center presents a fine program of traditional and contemporary songs. Harry is a wonderfully expressive singer with wide-ranging folksong interests, as this recording clearly demonstrates. First produced as an LP, before the digital revolution, it now has been re-mastered and is offered as a compact disk. In 1845; You Gonna Quit Me, Baby; Harvest Song; Lord Gregory; The Mermaid; I Saw Her as She Came and Went; Lucy Ann Rag; Old Dolores; Sweet Substitute; Snowbird; California Boy; Across the Blue Mountains; Griesly Bride; Mrs. Ravoon.



Harry Tuft
ACROSS THE BLUE MOUNTAINS


Opening notes by Sandy Paton

Harry Tuft has been an important factor in the American folksong revival for a long while, first in Philadelphia (his home) where he hosted some of the finest singing parties in the revival's history, and later in Denver, where he established one of the most successful folklore centers in the country, an enterprise that still flourishes. He has produced hundreds of concerts, small and large, of other singers, furthering their careers while neglecting his own. He's that kind of person gentle, unassuming, non-aggressive.

Harry approaches a song in the same way he approaches life: exploring it cautiously and thoroughly, patiently waiting until it has become an "old friend" before adding it to his active repertoire. Once it is there, however, he is able to present it to us with an engaging intimacy. He is not one to flash a song in front of us with superficial brilliance; rather, he opens it for us with an impressive tenderness, allowing us to see into its heart. His may not be the only way to approach the folksinger's art, but it is a lovely and a highly expressive one.

For those who have never had a chance to hear Harry Tuft, this album will serve as a delightful introduction to one of the finest interpreters in the folksong revival. Sandy Paton, July,1976.


Album notes by Harry Tuft

I guess I've been singing for as long as I can remember, especially in my room, to the popular music of the day ('40's & '50's). I must confess I did want to be a "Perry Como." I learned piano at age seven (forgot it at age nine), clarinet at ten, and the ukulele at thirteen. By fifteen it was a baritone uke; in college a six-string guitar.

When I returned to Philadelphia in 1957, I found a lively folk scene centered around a coffee house, The Gilded Cage. Ed and Esther Halpern, the owners, not only allowed people to use the back room for informal singing, but also ran a "round-robin" sing on Sunday afternoons. It was there I was first encouraged to sing in public, and there I met Lee and Tossi Aaron, who included me in a concert in York, Pennsylvania, my first time on stage. At a Sunday hoot in 1959 I met Dick Weissman, who was then living in New York. Dick's approach to the music was (and still is) unique and refreshing to me. We began a friendship that continues to this day.

Roger Abrahams shared with me his interest in folk music and folklore. Times at Roger's "stacked room" house on Isminger Street were very special - learning songs I still count among my favorites.

Those three years in and around Philadelphia prior to my coming west were formative ones. Between activities in the city and trips to visit Dick in New York, my interest in and excitement with Anglo-American folk music grew to be most important, even though I was studying to be an architect at the time.

In the fall of 1960, Dick got a job accompanying Martha Schlamme at the Ash Grove in Los Angeles. I was aching for some skiing and a release from school, so we traveled together as far as Denver, where I got a job in the mountains as a dishwasher, busboy, waiter, bartender, janitor, and if there was a lull in the work at night, I could sing in the bar - my first real paying job.

It was at that bar, "The Holy Cat," in Georgetown, that Hal Neustaedter, the owner of "The Exodus" (a folk club in Denver), suggested that a folklore center might go as a part-time thing in Denver. It took another six months or so to decide to try out his idea. Izzy Young, owner of the first and only (at that time) Folklore Center, on MacDougal Street in the Village, was of great help to me, offering advice, sources of supply, and encouragement. So, in the fall of 1961, I returned to Denver to open the Denver Folklore Center.

By committing myself to a store, I pretty much gave up the idea of becoming a full-time performer, and I satisfied myself with teaching and occasional singing when time allowed. However, in 1966 Ed Trickett came to Denver for the year and I felt renewed urgings to sing and rediscover some of the songs I'd put aside. That year was a great one for singing parties, and even after his return to the East, Ed and I have been able to continue singing together from time to time, either in Denver or around the East Coast, and those occasional reunions are always special times for me.

If and when you come to or through Denver, I hope you'll stop at the Folklore Center. If I'm not there, I'm probably not far away. I think you'll enjoy the mixture of people, music and merchandise you'll find there. (Taken from the original notes for the 1976 LP). (June, 1999) So, it's more than twenty years later and I'm pleased at the re-issuing of this Folk-Legacy album, not so much for my performance as for the songs themselves, and the musical additions of the supporting players. My friends have done such a great job of accompaniment, it's a pleasure to hear them on this album. So, the songs, and the extraordinary effort of these musicians is reason enough for me. I do hope you will agree with me after listening to this CD.

By the way, the Denver Folklore Center still goes, this time on South Pearl Street (after a 10 year hiatus). And, you are still invited to come and visit. As my 1970's ads stated in magazines: "Sooner or later, someone you know will be in Denver".

The Nitty-Gritty: Michael Cooney gave me a valued compliment once - he said that when I gave him a song it was the song that was important. Well, Michael, it is still the song, and not the singer. I hope hearing these songs will make you, the listener, curious enough to want to seek out the music of Dick Weissman, Marc Silber, Roger Abrahams, Tom Campbell, Tom Mastin, George Downing or Karen Dalton, and, of course Ed Trickett, Dave Van Ronk, and the Patons, not only the originals of these songs I sing, but also some others from the great storehouse of songs that each of them has.

Thanks to Dick Weissman, who first encouraged me to sing professionally, and whose additions to this album are immeasurable. Thanks also to Ed Trickett, whose enthusiasm and friendship made singing fun again. Dick, Ed, Sandy and Caroline have been tremendously supportive in the making of this album. Jay Ungar and Artie Traum have added their touch of excellence.

Over the years, my "thank you" list has grown considerably: Phyllis Wagner, Bill and Irma Fleming, and all the folks at the DFC, past and present, who have allowed me the time and "psychic space" for music; also to Jack Stanesco and Steve Abbott, my partners in "Grubstake", who constantly remind me that it's a lot of fun to make music together.

This album was dedicated to my folks, who gave me love, trust, support, and who believed in me even when I wasn't so sure; to Aunt Ann and Uncle Fred, harsh critics and staunch supporters - they would have been proud to own this album; to Rosalie for her strength and willingness to share; to my friends at today's Folklore Center - Mag, Sam, Jeff, Mark, and Ann, and to the folks at Swallow Hill - helping keep folk music alive and well in Denver and the Rocky Mountain region. To all of you I owe a great portion of my interest in this life I'm in.

The intervening years have been productive for my musical companions: Artie Traum has explored the worlds of sound production as well as continuing to perform and record. He has written several instruction books for the guitar. Ed Trickett has a number of recordings to his credit, (including one about to be released), and has been performing for many years with Gordon Bok and Ann Muir. Jay Ungar has built a career involving performance, scoring for film and video, and hosts a camp in New York State, "Ashokan" about which he wrote the instrumental: "Ashokan Farewell", rapidly becoming a "folk standard". He has many recordings to his credit and is a highly respected fiddler and teacher. Dick Weissman continues his musical journey through writing, performing and teaching, the last at the University of Colorado at Denver. He also has a number of recordings to his credit.

Finally, I'd like to thank Pete Seeger, without whose inspiration I would not be in this field today. I know I am just one of thousands, maybe millions, who entered the world of folk music through the door created and opened by Pete Seeger. The world is a better place for his efforts, and my life has been enriched, thanks to him.

Harry Tuft, (November, 1976), June, 1999

    
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