May 29 is the one hundredth birthday of Harry Smith - - - film maker, archivist, painter, collector, poet, resident of the Chelsea Hotel and native of the Pacific Northwest. There will be a special birthday celebration for Harry Smith next week at the Ancienne Belgique, in Brussels, Belgium featuring Bret Lunsford, Phil Elverum and Rani Singh. Bret Lunsford you may know as a member of K recording combos Beat Happening and D+. Bret also wrote a biography of Harry Smith's boyhood in Anacortes and Bellingham, Washington, Sounding for Harry Smith (Knw-yr-Own). Phil Elverum has also recorded with K (The Microphones, Mount Eerie, D+); Phil also designed Sounding for Harry Smith. Rani Singh is the Director of the Harry Smith Archive and has devoted their life to preserving the legacy of this one-of-a-kind American artist/hero/librarian, best known for compiling the three volumes of triple LP box sets entitled Anthology of American Folk Music in 1952. These collections of American folk, country, blues and other musics was a landmark that has inspired countless artists and musicians over the last 70 years - - - in fact any artist you can think of, whether they know it or not.
If Harry Smith and his work is so foundational and important, why is the celebration of his centennial happening in Belgium and not here in the U.S.A? I dunno. Says Bret Lunsford, "the artistic director of the Ancienne Belgique mentioned to me (and also to Phil) he'd like to host an event celebrating Harry Smith's 100th birthday on his 100th birthday. We both wanted to do it so we said 'Yeah!' There are artists covering songs from the Anthology, and other artists' whose work was inspired by it. Phil will be playing a set [Mount Eerie + The Golden Glows]. As author of Sounding for Harry Smith, I'll be sitting in on a panel discussion with Phil Elverum, who designed the book, and Rani Singh. There will also be a documentary about Harry shown, and some of his films, too." Yay.
Above photog portrays Harry Smith in the early 1950s, around the time he compiled Anthology of American Folk Music.
Above: Sounding for Harry Smith (Knw-yr-Own) by Bret Lunsford, a biography of Harry Smith's youth in the Pacific Northwest, available now from The K Mail Order Dept. for a special discount rate during the birthday month of May.