The seeds of Larkin Gifford’s Harmonica were planted on my last long day of campaigning for mayor of Springdale, Utah, in November 1993, when I made my final stop at Larkin and Ruth Gifford’s house.
Ruth invited me in, made me a sandwich, and gave me some fruit and a glass of milk. Then Larkin played harmonica while I accompanied him on the guitar. He was a delightful man with great stories to tell, and he loved playing the harmonica.
A few years later I came back and recorded Larkin playing old tunes he had collected from his youth. I listened to his stories about growing up in Springdale in the early 1900s. He remembered his father taking him down to the river and giving him a drink of water from his hand, and buying him his first harmonica when he was eight years old.
I deconstructed his harmonica tunes into little bits and pieces and then put them back together into new music which retains some of the character and tone of Larkin’s playing. I weaved Larkin’s spoken memories through the patterns in the music.
Larkin Gifford’s Harmonica was profiled on NPR’s Weekend Edition in 2001, and was released on my second Starkland CD, Larkin Gifford’s Harmonica (ST- 214) in 2006.