Official Kim and Reggie Harris Reviews page
From the Jewish Exponent: April 05, 2007, Volume 222 Issue 1
"Let My People Go: A Jewish and African-American Celebration of Freedom."
This excellent collection of melodies and spirituals roughly follows the
traditional seder liturgical order. The eternal and ageless Pete Seeger
is a participant on this wonderful album.
In December, I met Fred Hellerman, a founding member of the original Weavers.
He told me that back in 1963, he'd written a song called "A Man Come Into Egypt,"
which was a major hit for the group "Peter, Paul & Mary."
This old favorite is found on the album, which in its entirety makes an
excellent addition to Passover celebrations.
From the Jerusalem Post, Thursday, April 5, 2007.
Pessah tunes for the new millennium, By BEN JACOBSON
Kim and Reggie Harris with Rabbi Jonathan Kligler
Let My People Go! (Appleseed Recordings)
Drawn by the socialist's search for overthrowing the status quo and the dogmatists'
mission to heal the world, it's well documented that Jews were highly involved in
the American Civil Rights movement of the Sixties. Conversely, Garvey adherents
aside, African American freedom songs have often utilized the biblical Exodus as
a theme, with hymns like "Let My People Go" becoming anthems of such power that
they're often sung at Seder tables. In short, Pessah is the connective tissue
between American Jews and blacks.
Universal empowerment-themed folk singers Kim and Reggie Harris, together with
Rabbi Jonathan Kligler of Woodstock, New York, have united with an army of
Sixties-style freedom lovers to release Let My People Go!, a multi-cultural song
and spoken word concept suite, released by a Pennsylvania-based label that
specializes in social justice-oriented recordings.
E Street Band keyboard player David Sancious, King Crimson bassist Tony Levin
and Don McLean guitarist John Platania contribute to the sound here, while
activists like Pete Seeger, Sonny Ochs, Emma Lazarus, Juanita Nelson and
Mahmoud Darwish lend their words and vocals. Three opening creative reconfigurations
of Haggada selections lead us into the ultra-tight harmonies of
"In the Mississippi River." In the poignant "Democratic National Convention 1964,"
The Shalom Center's Rabbi Arthur Waskow tells of how his days singing along with
black spiritual protesters back in the Sixties turned him on to his own people's
spirituality for the first time. On "Ilu Finu," an expression of God's praiseworthiness,
Kligler's flock joins in for a choir-anchored round before the traditional
"Venomar Lefanav" is transformed into a Balkan groove.
Reviews of " Get on Board!: Underground Railroad and Civil Rights Freedom Songs, Volume 2," by Kim & Reggie Harris
Kim & Reggie Harris - Get On Board! (Appleseed)
A couple of years ago, on the album Let My People Go!, Kim & Reggie presented us with a
very persuasive case for the power of song in activism. In tracing the African-American
path to equality, their mission is always to carry on the folk tradition of preserving
important songs from the past and adding meaningful new songs from the world around them,
and their latest CD is a further triumphant fulfilment of that necessarily continuing
mission. Subtitled Underground Railroad And Civil Rights Freedom Songs, Volume 2, it's
a natural sequel to their best-selling and universally acclaimed 1997 album Steal Away,
itself a direct follow-on from their very first recording
(the now-deleted 1984 Music And The Underground Railroad) which grew from their
extensive study of the rich lore of the Underground Railroad (which for those not
familiar with the term, is helpfully described at the outset in the excellent
booklet thus: "a multi-race, multi-faith network of slaves and free persons
committed to aiding freedom seekers to escape the oppression of slavery").
Here, once again, Kim and Reggie deliver a set of universally exuberant
and totally committed performances, this time featuring songs they've
unearthed since Steal Away, along with revivals of a couple of standards
from their past recordings (eg the title track and Trampin'). They embrace
vibrant arrangements of a handful of ageless traditional spirituals both familiar
(Oh Mary Don't You Weep, Keep Your Lamps Trimmed And Burning) and more obscure
(Done Wit Driver's Dribbin', Children Go Where I Send Thee) alongside other
traditional African-American freedom songs learned from sources such as the
Georgia Sea Island Singers, and original compositions by Cathy Fink and Roberta Slavitt.
Guests helping Kim and Reggie out here include Guy Davis (vocals, harmonica an
slide on Rise Up Shepherd And Follow), Marcy Marxer, Cathy Fink, and Matt & Marshall Jones
(two members of the 60s SNCC Freedom Singers group). Much of the album is stirring acappella,
gospel-style, or with percussion or simple guitar backing, but it's all tremendously
effective and stirring stuff. The pared-down yet impassioned version of
Down By The Riverside (just voice and banjo) is the ideal antidote to those wearisomely
strung-out throwaway thrash renditions we're used to. Kim and Reggie themselves
are on splendid form, and to show the way the songs and their message cross the
generations Reggie even trades rap verses with 14-year-old Texas-based rapper
"Baby Jay" Gutierrez on Row The Boat. Preachin' they may be, but Kim and Reggie
never make you feel uncomfortable - quite the reverse - and it all adds up to a
strongly performed, imaginatively conceived, richly invigorating musical experience.
And there's also a special bonus track (If You Miss Me From The Back Of The Bus)
that's downloadable exclusively from Kim and Reggie's website.
David Kidman March 2007
FolkWax March 22 2007
Get On Board: Underground and Civil Rights Freedom Songs, Volume 2 by Kim and Reggie Harris
| Appleseed Recordings APR CD 1098
Learning About Freedom, (03/21/07)
- Get On Board
- Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning
- Run Mary Run
Kim and Reggie Harris are natural teachers, using song to tell of freedom
struggles through history. It is a lively lesson, including pieces that
will be familiar to many who grew up in the American South, and many more
who were present for or learned of Civil Rights gatherings in the 1960s.
"Oh Mary, Don't You Weep" is a traditional spiritual/Gospel number that
Bruce Springsteen included on his Seeger Session CD; here it gets a fine
treatment from guest singer and Civil Rights activist Bernice Johnson Reagon.
"Children Go Where I Send Thee" is another spiritual that, as many songs
sung by slaves did, holds coded messages for those headed to freedom along
the Underground Railroad. Here what it holds is good and genuine singing
by Harris and Harris and a continuing message of hope and belief in the
power of freedom, a message for any time and generation. From the younger
generation, teenage rapper Baby Jay Gutierrez adds his own flair joining
Reggie on "Row de Boat." Producer Cathy Fink joins in singing her own song,
the vibrant "One Little Step Towards Freedom," and plays a tasteful bit
of banjo behind Kim's vocal on "Down by the Riverside." You do not have to
know anything about the history or even the meaning of these songs to get
up and sing and dance along, though the Harrises present them with enough
joy and energy to invite you to do that. A lesson offered in the best way.
Kerry Dexter is a senior contributing editor at FolkWax.
The latest (March-April) issue of No Depression reviews "Get On Board!":
"Slave songs and other musical artifacts of early African America would certainly not disappear
without the caretaking of Kim and Reggie Harris. It's doubtful, though, that anyone would
bring them so thoroughly to life. This husband-and-wife team performs these songs, though
born from injustice, with a buoyant spirit that opens them to all listeners. Their secret
is in the smiles -- you can hear them in the shape of the words -- that reflect their
faith in the triumph of righteousness. Some tracks are a cappella, some feature guitars
or banjos or, further back, djembes. Following the timeless spirituals, modern recollections
of the Underground railroad, and jazzy touches, the album peaks on the penultimate
track, 'Row de Boat,' am ambitious mix of melody and rap declamation. It sounds a bit
hokey on paper, but on disc, the exuberance and festivity are impossible to resist."
Robert L. Doerschuk, No Depression
www.midwestrecord.com - Midwest Record
Review by Chris Spector
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
APPLESEED - KIM & REGGIE HARRIS/Get on Board: A companion volume to a set of underground
railroad songs the Harris' released a decade ago, it's amazing how many of
these songs they taught us in grade school without teaching us the history
of what and where these songs were about. The things you thought were kid
songs you outgrew! The Harris' know how to deliver a document without
loading it with dust and craft a folk statement that is loaded with
heritage, power and dignity that reclaims history that was veering into the
ditch. They offer a fine, contemporary performance that speak to ages past
and melds something important at a lot of levels.
ABOUT: Folk Music
Kim and Reggie Harris - Get on Board!
From Kim Ruehl,
Your Guide to Folk Music.
Underground Railroad and Civil Rights Freedom Songs, Volume 2
Guide Rating -
On their latest effort, Get on Board!: Underground Railroad and Civil Rights Freedom Songs,
Volume 2, Kim and Reggie Harris sing their way through African-American history, from mourning
to celebration. Through classic spirituals, gospel and American folk songs, the Harrises,
along with a troupe of guest artsts, pay homage to those who came before them with the utmost
respect and reverence. Consequently, their work is impeccable and well worth the fourteen
songs included here.
Civil Rights Songs
If you're looking for an introduction to African-American folk music, this album
isn't a bad place to start. From the highly informative CD booklet, which tells a
story about each of the 14 songs, to the authentic and inspired performances on the
disc, Get on Board is an excellent addition to any folk library.
Reggie Harris starts the album out with "Done Wit' Driver's Dribbin'," which ably
sets the stage for a set of songs about liberation and self-worth, freedom, and human rights.
Harris sings, "I'm done with whips a-crackin' / roll Jordan, roll ...
There's no slavery in the Kingdom," and it feels like the last straw has dropped,
setting the singer and listener on a fourteen-song-long freedom journey.
Songs of Freedom and Revolution
The songs on this album narrate the plight of African-Americans from slavery to
Civil Rights, waffling back and forth between the two eras with ease; as if to say
that, even with Civil Rights accomplished, the plight of the African-American man
and woman is not complete.
The ghosts of slaves and ancestors are prevalent here, inspiring and channeling
through the Harrises and their impressive set of guest artists. Danny Glover,
Baby Jay, Guy Davis, Bernice Johnson Reagon, and others add to the chorus, driving
Get on Board with integrity and haunting raidance. Their adaptations of these classic
American songs of protest, including the integration of gospel tunes like
"Down by the Riverside" with rap and spoken word solos, are unforgettably inspiring.
Definitely one of the best traditional folk records of the year.
Get on Board, Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning, Trampin'/I Got Shoes, Run Mary Run, Freedom is a Constant Struggle
A review written for the
Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mike Jurkovic
Have you ever given any thought to how much darkness there is in world history that
never fails to be illuminated by music: The lone voice, the solitary drum, the masses
gathering, by the light of day or the dark of night, to sing as one.
As gloriously revealed here,
Get On Board: Underground and Civil Rights Freedom Songs, Volume 2 by Kim and Reggie Harris
and on their first volume, 1997's widely acclaimed Steal Away: Songs of the Underground Railroad,
Kim and Reggie have spent a great deal of their musical life's work researching the deeper
timelessness of this music born of pain and sung for liberation.
With a wide range of guests to help realize their vision, actor Danny Glover narrates
letters from Frederick Douglass over Rev Robert B. Jones deep gospel Keep Your Lamps
Trimmed and Burning; Bernice Johnson Reagan, she of Sweet Honey In The Rock and the
duo blend no less than 12 voices in the stunning church call O, Mary Don"t You Weep
while longtime friends and collaborators Magpie (Greg Artzner & Terry Leonino) lend
their considerable vocal and musical talents throughout.
All of these evocative spirituals and freedom songs will make you stop, listen, and
wonder if we have, so many years and generations down the line, really advanced the
cause of civil and human rights for all. Highlights for this listener include
Down By The Riverside, Old Tar River (with Matt and Marshall Jones from the SNCC Freedom Singers)
and Rise Up Sheperd and Follow/Go Tell It On The Mountain.
Albany Times Union
By Greg Haymes
On the folk front, the husband and wife duo of Kim and Reggie Harris are gearing
up for the release of their wonderful new disc,
"Get on Board!: Underground Railroad & Civil Rights Freedom Songs, Volume 2"
on the Pennsylvania-based Appleseed Recordings label. It's the follow-up to
their 1998 album, "Steal Away: Songs of the American Underground Railroad,"
although they've recorded three other albums for Appleseed since then.
The new disc features some top-notch special guests including Sweet Honey in the Rock
founder Bernice Johnson Reagon, bluesman Guy Davis and actor Danny Glover.
The CD lands in stores Tuesday, but the Harrises will offer a CD release celebration
at the WAMC Performing Arts Studio on Saturday, Jan. 27, with Matt and Marshall Jones,
Magpie and Peter Davis joining in the festivities.
NOTICE: This page © Copyright 1999, 2007 Kim and Reggie Harris.