Bright, uplifting and authentic, the sound of Harmons Peak transports
listeners to a simpler time, makes children jump up and dance, and inclines
those in the vicinity to smile at one another and say howdy.
We play for festivals, events, weddings, dances, bar- and bat-mitzvahs, christenings,
for school kids, seasonal gatherings, parties and barn-raisings. May we play
The music on the CD is traditional American old-timey
most of it was popular around the time of the Civil War, some was old even
then. But it all comes alive with the sweet sound of two fiddles, a banjo,
a guitar and some voices.
History Harmon's Peak Traditional Old Time Music Quartet, the group on the CD that
is, has a long history. Ernest and Karl met back around 1986 playing primarily
Celtic music. After a while, they started playing at the Red Rock in Mtn. View
under the name Mr. Barky.
It was during this time that they caught the attention of Art
Friedman, the fiddler (from the group Wonderbeans),
and his friend Paul Clarke, the banjo player, who asked if they wanted to form
a new group. Today, between the four of them, they have over a hundred years
experience performing and playing.
Nowadays, Karl and Ernest are still playing under the name Mr.
Barky. They do pirate shows, cowboy songs, and lots of Celtic and Old Time American
tunes and songs.
Various members of Harmon's Peak appear from time to time together
in various combos.
Where'd they get the name?
When I was a kid there was an old fellow named John Harmon who lived in
the neighborhood who was quite an interesting character. He was fairly gruff
and not that good with kids, but he had lived a fascinating life -- owned a
handmade blowgun that he had bartered for in the Amazonian jungle in the 1930s
and had photos to back up the story, that kind of thing. Anyway, he and his
wife (who was GREAT with kids, by the way, used to make us snacks and play dominoes
with us and whatnot) used to go wandering around the back-country in Arizona
and elsewhere, hiking and taking photos. One day they ran across a surveyor
out in the middle of nowhere, and they got to talking and all made friends,
and somewhere in the middle of their conversation John gave the fellow some
whiskey. It was either a swig or a flask or a whole bottle, I can't quite remember.
I also can't remember whether John wanted the peak named after him and bribed
the surveyor with whiskey, or whether John gave him the whiskey out of good
will and the surveyor did it as a spontaneous gesture, but the surveyor wound
up drunk and the maps still say Harmon's Peak.
Harmon's Peak at the san Francisco Free Folk Festival
Old Time Music Harmon's Peak plays a style of music known as Old Time. Stretching
from before the Civil War to about 1930 or so, this kind of recreational folk
music has formed and influenced the modern bluegrass, country, contra and
square dance music of today. The traditional music of the United States was
played in log cabins and tenant shacks, often on homemade instruments, and
usually by people wh spent all day trying to scrape together a living any
way they could.
Harmon's Peak plays with a bright, uplifting style, in an authentic
manner, with voices, guitar, two fiddles, a banjo and occasional tin whistles
Forged by the people of the rural 19th Century,
with roots in Europe, Africa, and United States, Old Time contains powerful
rhythms, bravado and a great deal of soul. Appealing to adults and children,
it is a wonderful event at family gatherings. The melodies and songs convey
a kind of natural woodland charm, and can transport you to a simpler time
when homespun music was a major source of fun for generations.
Pictured here (L-R) is Lee Clarke (she likes to instigate
"clog dancing" at our shows), Paul Clarke, Karl Franzen,
and our friend Chip Curry. The event was the Miramonte School Western Spring Fling.
Photo by James Cho.
From: Marc Sidel
To: Harmon's Peak
Subject: Hidden Villa "Homeshool Day" Festival
Date: October 6, 2008
Thank you very much for your wonderful performance
at today's Homeschool Day! Your music really made the lunch experience one
of the most delightful parts of the day's program.
From: Eva Heninwolf
To: Harmon's Peak
Subject: Another great morning at the Market!
Date: Sat, 26 July 2008
I got lots of compliments on your playing this
morning. Just the right tone. Those guys are so good. .
. Thanks for making us look good! I enjoyed the music mightily myself
and had fun dancing with my daughter and your dancer. . . Shes fun.
Palo Alto Farmers Market
From: Lauren John
To: Harmon's Peak
Subject: A Big Thank You From the Palo Alto Farmer's Market
Date: Mon, 12 June 2006
On behalf of the entire board of the Palo Alto Farmer's Market, I wanted to
thank you and Harmon's Peak for the wonderful music that you provided for
our opening day of the market on Saturday, May 13th. We were all so impressed
with the high quality of musicianship--and the variety of songs and styles
that we heard. We have learned that live music is as big a deal
for the kids in our neighborhood as it is for the grownups--and the performers
at the market often provide their first up close and personal experience with
musicians. The kids watched you with great fascination and enjoyment--thanks
so much for being so patient with them. We look forward to your next appearance
. . .
Palo Alto Farmer's Market
We teach It is informal, homespun and very accessible to beginners and experienced
musicians alike. We've helped many people on their way to becoming traditional
musicians; if you like our music and would like to make some of your own, please
e-mail us to set up an introductory lesson.