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Published: 2016/04/18
by Larson Sutton

Chris Harford: The Art of Change

Chris Harford is an artist of many forms—musician, painter, photographer—with each a means of expression demonstrating his enduring resilience. He’s had the major label record deals, the attention of a flattering press and appreciative audiences, and yet he remains concerned only with the quality, not the profitability, of his work. On April 21, he will perform with his Band of Changes at the Brooklyn Bowl, and on June 5th will travel to Washington, D.C. to appear at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with Pulitzer Prize-winning Irish poet Paul Muldoon. We spoke to Chris about the upcoming Bowl show, his uncommon business practice, and the value and purpose of art.

You’re a musician, but you’re also a painter and a photographer. What does music mean to you as an art form?

Music is a true form of expression and celebration of all things that language can’t seem to suffice. Like, Sufjan Stevens’ last record got me through the death of my dad, or something like that. Music hits with such an impact and can be so all-encompassing. It’s so all-consuming with the senses; with the heart, the mind, the body, and the memories. It’s working on so many levels.

How does it differ from the other mediums in which you work?

It differs in that I get to work with other people. That’s huge, in that manner, to have the conversations you have with musicians on the stage, improvising. Or, when you create in the studio. It’s all about working with other people.

What do you look forward to about this upcoming Brooklyn Bowl show?

The unbridled joy of performing with your mates; playing music and creating something with your friends that is so absolutely, unequivocally fun. Hopefully that comes out to the audience. It’s getting excited about Joe Russo and the way he’s drumming. Or Robbie Seahag’s guitar solo. You’re thinking to yourself, this is out of this world.

Is there something you can reveal about your plans for the Bowl?

We have enough material to draw on where we can do three to four-hour shows. The best Band of Changes experiences are when we’re allowed to play for a while; when we can warm-up and jam, and figure it out then and there. We’re taking this ride with the audience. We’re equally as surprised as the audience is as to where we’re headed. That’s probably what’s going to happen.

When I see the name Band of Changes, I understand the connection to a revolving, changing line-up performing a variety of songs, but what I thought of first was Jimi Hendrix’ Band of Gypsys and their song “Them Changes.”

You’re making me smile. That’s exactly where it came from. My brother did the artwork for my double-album, Band of Changes. He took the font from Band of Gypsys for that. You’re spot-on about the Hendrix thing. It’s also a nod to the Book of Changes. And, you’re right about the band members changing, and the music, too. I feel like now I personally prefer it to be Band of Changes, and you list who might be in it that night. Or you could leave that a mystery. I’m in a position where I’m playing with these crazy musicians a lot of people know from other projects. People are coming out of curiosity. They might not know the music or the songs, but they’re coming for that person, which is great. They’re still discovering it, in a way.

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