Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music


REID, Harvey

Harvey Reid is a wizard of the acoustic strings, playing guitar, 6-string banjo, bouzouki, mandolin and autoharp. He lives with his wife, singer/fiddler Joyce Andersen (see her entry), and their son in rural Maine. Both are also songwriters.

Reid started playing guitar in his early teens in Maryland, and has honed his craft over 30 years in countless clubs, festivals, street-corners, cafés, schools, and concert halls across the nation. He has absorbed a vast repertoire of American contemporary and roots music and woven it into his own personal style, his recordings showcasing mastery of many instruments and styles from folk to slide guitar blues to bluegrass, ragtime, and even classical. He won the 1981 National Fingerpicking Guitar Competition and the 1982 International Autoharp competition. With a long list of studio and band credits, he’s a strong flatpicker who has won the Beanblossom bluegrass guitar contest, a versatile and engaging singer, a powerful lyricist, a prolific composer, arranger and songwriter, and a solid mandolin, bouzouki, and 6-string banjo player.

Although not associated with any record labels or hype industry (his own label is Woodpecker), Reid’s reputation as a musician's musician has grown. He was included on Rhino Records' Acoustic Music of the ‘90s CD 1995, and his Steel Drivin' Man CD was voted by Acoustic Guitar magazine as one of the 10 Essential Folk CDs of all time 1996. His music appeared on the blockbuster BBC television series Billy Connolly's World Tour of Scotland.

As a businessman and a technician Reid is responsible for most of what is known about the partial capo, having developed all of the popular partial-capo configurations in use today (including the Esus), and was the first to record and publish music for partial capo. In 1980 he co-founded The Third Hand Capo Company, and wrote the first college textbook for folk guitar, Modern Folk Guitar, published by Random House, and still in print from McGraw-Hill.

Reid persuaded Fishman Transducers to develop the Acoustic Blender amplification system, worked on the design team, and wrote the instructions for it. He may have been the first acoustic independent musician to make a CD, and certainly was among the first to make DAT recordings, and helped usher in the new era of direct-to-digital recordings with a series of articles he wrote for acoustic music magazines. He was also the first person to endorse Taylor Guitars, and began doing promotion for them in 1983 when they only had two employees.

His discography, in reverse order, includes One April Night (DVD) 2004, The Autoharp Album 2003, Dreamer or Believer (2-CD retrospective) 2002, Guitar Voyages 2000, Fruit on the Vine 1998, In Person (2-CD live tracks from 15 concerts) 1997, Artistry of the 6-String Banjo 1995, Chestnuts 1994, Circles 1993, Steel Drivin' Man 1992, Overview 1990, The Heart of the Minstrel on Christmas Day 1984, 1987. Of Wind & Water 1988, The Coming Of Winter 1986 and Solo Guitar Sketchbook 1989 were out of print in 2006.

Reid's duo albums with his wife include The Great Sad River 2001, Kindling The Fire 2004 and Christmas Morning 2006. New in 2008 is a 4-CD set with with an illustrated 80-page book called The Song Train, intended to replace all those uninspiring instruction books with a huge collection of classic songs, each with only two chords. Reid and Andersen take turns singing and playing, and should be able to get the enthusiastic beginner going -- or one could just listen for pleasure. Find out more at and