Harry Tuft

Harry Tuft outside Swallow Hill last fall. (Photo credit: Olivia Shaw)

“In uncertain times music is a kind of salve, a kind of medicine,” Harry Tuft said. “It’s spiritual medicine that reminds us that we’re not alone.”

Harry, sounding light and energetic as ever, spoke to us over the phone on Wednesday afternoon from his home in Denver to discuss the importance of music and community in the face of a crisis.

When asked if there is any music in particular he’s turning to as we all practice “social distancing” to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the folk singer, Denver Folklore Center founder, and Colorado Music Hall of Fame Inductee thought for a moment.

“For turbulent times,” he said, “I would choose songs that remind us we are better together. Sometimes those songs are ones that have spiritual meaning, or community meaning, some moral content.”

He mentioned the Civil Rights Movement-era song “One Man’s Hands,” which include the lyrics

Just my eyes can’t see the way ahead
Just your eyes can’t see the way ahead
But if two & two and fifty make a million
We’ll see that day come round
We’ll see that day come round

“For many years,” he continued, “I’ve thought that if society is a wall, music is the mortar that holds all the bricks together. I really think music is so wonderfully important. It’s great that we are able to participate in it and offer it to others.”

Harry talked about the importance of music bringing people together, and acknowledged that the current moment dictates we stay physically apart, adding a new spin to how music might accomplish that.

One way, he thinks, is through digital means. “At this time, any idea of offering people music through the Internet, past concerts or live streaming, if that can be worked out, will really be appreciated by the community of Swallow Hill.”

Harry added that he is exploring ways to share music via the Internet in lieu of traditional concert settings.

He expanded his thoughts on bolstering community beyond music making. “I heard on NPR about the idea of getting gift cards from and making donations to businesses and organizations that you think might suffer from loss of business. A gift card now means money in their pocket now.”

With regards to how he’s doing, Harry said “I’m doing really well. I’m taking it one day at a time. I just want to be safe like everybody else, and careful.”

He stressed that people need to take the COVID-19 pandemic seriously and to listen to what the doctors and medical professionals are saying.

“I would reiterate what the important, smart people – the doctors, not the politicians – the doctors are saying, because they’re very wise,” he said.

“As an older person I appreciate the importance of staying healthy because immune systems can be compromised. I encourage any older person, particularly since Swallow Hill has a mature audience in a lot of ways, to heed the advice that is given by medical professionals and to take the situation seriously.”


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