Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Harvey Reid can play the lights out of just about any stringed instrument, including the mandolin; bouzouki; autoharp; banjo; and slide, six- and 12-string guitars. He also freely roams in style from classical, blues and ragtime to folk, bluegrass, old-time and Celtic over the course of 18 independently released albums on his own Woodpecker Records. So I must admit to being mildly amused when Reid is referred to as "reclusive." I mean, wouldn't you be, living in Maine and delivering this kind of prolific, creative output?
In any event, one of the pleasures of listening to Reid is his eclectic unpredictability. He's just as likely to write a haunting original ballad as he is to cover something like Woody Guthrie's "Vigilante Man" or the Rolling Stones' "The Spider & the Fly." Reid's also bold enough to create an entire album around a single theme or instrument, like he did with 1995's The Artistry of the 6-String Banjo, 2000's Guitar Voyages and 2003's The Autoharp Album. And finally, who else can make a guitar sound just like bagpipes, as he does during the beautifully evocative "Requiem for the Last Minstrel"?
Reid, whose Steel Drivin' Man was named in 1996 by Acoustic Guitar Magazine as "one of the Top 10 Essential Folk Albums of All Time," should be embraced for accomplishing so much while ignoring corporate America's dehumanizing, greedy grip. Now if we can only convince this musical minstrel to jam sometime with that other string wizard, David Lindley. Then I can die a happy man.
The Living Tradition present Harvey Reid and Sion and Anderson performing at the Anaheim Downtown Community Center, 250 E. Center St., Anaheim, (949) 646-1964; www.thelivingtradition.org. Sat., 7:30 p.m. $11-$14; children under 18, free with paying adult. Free parking. All ages.