Bret Lunsford

Sounding for Harry Smith: Early Pacific Northwest Influences (Knw-Yr-Own) book

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Harry Everett Smith (1923-1991) was a boyhood resident of Anacortes, Washington for ten years of the Great Depression. Sounding for Harry Smith: Early Pacific Northwest Influences is a visually compelling oral history-based biography that immerses the reader in Salish Sea traditions and discord to explore the myths of a counter-cultural shaman whose strange impacts on art, music and film resound from studies of place to beat improvisation, through brain paintings to a Grammy Award for his folk music bible, Anthology of American Folk Music (Smithsonian Folkways).

Pacific Northwest musician-historian Bret Lunsford (Beat Happening/D+) unravels a string of mysteries to reveal the avant-garde shards of a 20th century alchemist in his hometown.

A beautifully printed and bound 232-page hardcover book that includes chronology, selected bibliography, endnotes, maps and over 100 historic photographs within 17 substantial and hearty chapters.

Dimensions: 8 ¾ inches wide by 10 ¼ inches tall by 7/8 inches thick.

“A major accomplishment in the scholarship on Harry Smith”
- Rani Singh, Director of the Harry Smith Archives
  • Written by Bret Lunsford
  • Designed by Bret Lunsford and Phil Elverum
  • Published by KNW-YR-OWN and P.W. Elverum & Sun
“Growing up in Anacortes is interesting. Lots of people do it. Harry Smith did it, Bret Lunsford did it decades later, I did it another decade after that. To me it felt like being present for the monumental human shift from the ancient and eternal to the modern and marketable. There’s something about the place; located on the far edge of a recently colonized continent, at the cusp of many poles, wrapped in layers of simultaneous living histories... it’s a place of coexistence, though not usually harmonious or acknowledged. Living in this place where the elements of nature demand one’s attention, and the evidence of the people that came before us still juts out of the sand, the songs still audible, it felt impossible to ignore some deeper truths, hinted at but not spelled out. Harry Smith clearly was tuned in to this too, following the thread all the way out of town.”
—From the Preface by Phil Elverum
“What’s striking about Bret Lunsford‘s portrait of Harry Smith is that it brings to the foreground what most arts biographers ignore or treat as scenery: the community in which the artist first emerged. This book is the fullest vision of Smith’s early years we’ll ever likely see. Lunsford writes as a native who knew people in Smith’s life who were still alive. As a local artist, he fathoms the deep history of the arts in Anacortes. Again, acting as a local historian he found documents, newspapers, pictures, scrapbooks, yearbooks, and letters that illuminate Smith’s childhood and also give us a biography of the city.”
—From the Foreword by John Szwed