As many of you may already know, my beloved autoharp was stolen this summer never to be recovered. I spent four months combing pawn shops and craigslist for something to replace that old 70’s relic Jess Brown found in his grandmother’s closet. Nothing sounded nearly as good.
Finally, Orion reminded me about an autoharp builder named Pete D’Aigle we’d found ages ago while searching online for autoharp strings. I revisited his site and found he was just outside of Seattle, a few hours drive away.
Roadtrip! We crossed the border at 11:00 on 11/11/11 — no joke. Just as Seattle traffic began to bottleneck, it began to rain cats and dogs! Pete’s workshop and store “D’Aigle Harps” is directly underneath the second runway of the SeaTac Airport.
We somehow navigated the spiraling confusion of over and underpasses and figured we’d arrived when we saw the scare-crow made of planter pots, playing a cardboard autoharp.
It turns out that Pete is the Santa Claus of autoharps. His workshop has its own movie-theatre popcorn machine and a small stage in the far corner. Once a month, he and his son push aside their table saws and folk musicians from Seattle pour in to jam on their instruments.
The air smells of saw dust and glue. On a side bench rests a Concert Grand Autoharp circa 1882 that Pete is restoring.
After a tour of the workshop I tested out the ‘harps. I have to say that I was not prepared for an autoharp to sound so beautiful. Carefully chosen woods and a deep body make Pete’s ‘harps uniquely resonant. It took me hours to test drive all the different models. And what did I do? I chose the harp that soundest most exquisite which it just happened to be the most expensive harp on the rack.
Pete is now building me a ‘harp of my own to my specifications, replacing the usual chord layout with more colourful major 7 chords and a few special suspended and cluster chords. In time I will learn to cut my own felted chord bars and swap them out on a whim. An autoharp with room for innovation! My ‘harp will be ready at the end of March!
To celebrate, I am releasing Wire Wood Wind, a special collection of songs recorded on my original autoharp in Kreuzberg, Berlin on a hot spring afternoon. This EP is a collaborative experiment with producer Martyn Heyne (Efterklang, Gyda Valtysdottir) that weaves together three songs never previously recorded. Man On Wire, Back to the Woods and Into the Wind are only available on this special edition EP.
Wire Wood Wind is available March 13, 2012 in CD and digital form. CDs ordered prior to March 22, 2012 will be signed by Miss Emily Brown! To pre-order now, click Here!
Album artwork features a gorgeous pen & ink drawing of my old ‘harp by Liam Epps and a photo from the recording session in Kruezberg, Berlin. Digital copies come with downloadable artwork.
Buying this album will help me raise the $3500 I need to pay Pete for his inspiring work and to bring this new beauty on tour this summer. Please buy a copy for yourself and some for your friends!
I know you’ll love this EP. I hope to introduce you to my new ‘harp in the coming year…
Miss Emily Brown