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Bright, uplifting and authentic, the sound of Harmon’s Peak transports listeners to a simpler time, makes children jump up and dance, and inclines those in the vicinity to smile at one another and say “howdy.”

We play for festivals, events, weddings, dances, bar- and bat-mitzvahs, christenings, for school kids, seasonal gatherings, parties and barn-raisings. May we play for you?

The music on the CD is traditional American “old-timey” – most of it was popular around the time of the Civil War, some was old even then. But it all comes alive with the sweet sound of two fiddles, a banjo, a guitar and some voices.

History | The Name | The Music | Testimonial | Lessons | Contacts

Harmon's Peak Traditional Old Time Music Quartet, the group on the CD that is, has a long history. Ernest and Karl met back around 1986 playing primarily Celtic music. After a while, they started playing at the Red Rock in Mtn. View under the name Mr. Barky.

Paul Clarke, one of our founding fathers

Paul & Lee on TV

It was during this time that they caught the attention of Art Friedman, the fiddler (from the group “Wonderbeans”), and his friend Paul Clarke, the banjo player, who asked if they wanted to form a new group. Today, between the four of them, they have over a hundred years experience performing and playing.

Nowadays, Karl and Ernest are still playing under the name Mr. Barky. They do pirate shows, cowboy songs, and lots of Celtic and Old Time American tunes and songs.

Various members of Harmon's Peak appear from time to time together in various combos.

History | The Name | The Music | Testimonial | Lessons | Contacts

Where'd they get the name?
“When I was a kid there was an old fellow named John Harmon who lived in the neighborhood who was quite an interesting character. He was fairly gruff and not that good with kids, but he had lived a fascinating life -- owned a handmade blowgun that he had bartered for in the Amazonian jungle in the 1930s and had photos to back up the story, that kind of thing. Anyway, he and his wife (who was GREAT with kids, by the way, used to make us snacks and play dominoes with us and whatnot) used to go wandering around the back-country in Arizona and elsewhere, hiking and taking photos. One day they ran across a surveyor out in the middle of nowhere, and they got to talking and all made friends, and somewhere in the middle of their conversation John gave the fellow some whiskey. It was either a swig or a flask or a whole bottle, I can't quite remember. I also can't remember whether John wanted the peak named after him and bribed the surveyor with whiskey, or whether John gave him the whiskey out of good will and the surveyor did it as a spontaneous gesture, but the surveyor wound up drunk and the maps still say Harmon's Peak.”


Harmon's Peak at the san Francisco Free Folk Festival

History | The Name | The Music | Testimonial | Lessons | Contacts

Old Time Music
Harmon's Peak plays a style of music known as “Old Time”. Stretching from before the Civil War to about 1930 or so, this kind of recreational folk music has formed and influenced the modern bluegrass, country, contra and square dance music of today. The traditional music of the United States was played in log cabins and tenant shacks, often on homemade instruments, and usually by people wh spent all day trying to scrape together a living any way they could.

Art, Ernest, Paul, Karl, and Art

Harmon's Peak plays with a bright, uplifting style, in an authentic manner, with voices, guitar, two fiddles, a banjo and occasional tin whistles or accordion.

Forged by the people of the rural 19th Century, with roots in Europe, Africa, and United States, Old Time contains powerful rhythms, bravado and a great deal of soul. Appealing to adults and children, it is a wonderful event at family gatherings. The melodies and songs convey a kind of natural woodland charm, and can transport you to a simpler time when homespun music was a major source of fun for generations.

Pictured here (L-R) is Lee Clarke (she likes to instigate "clog dancing" at our shows), Paul Clarke, Karl Franzen, and our friend Chip Curry. The event was the Miramonte School Western Spring Fling.
Photo by James Cho.

History | The Name | The Music | Testimonial | Lessons | Contacts

From: Marc Sidel
To: Harmon's Peak
Subject: Hidden Villa "Homeshool Day" Festival
Date: October 6, 2008

Thank you very much for your wonderful performance at today's Homeschool Day! Your music really made the lunch experience one of the most delightful parts of the day's program.

-Marc Sidel
Festival Coordinator

From: Eva Heninwolf
To: Harmon's Peak
Subject: Another great morning at the Market!
Date: Sat, 26 July 2008

I got lots of compliments on your playing this morning. “Just the right tone.” “Those guys are so good. . . ” Thanks for making us look good! I enjoyed the music mightily myself and had fun dancing with my daughter and your dancer. . . She’s fun. . .

Music coordinator
Palo Alto Farmers’ Market

From: Lauren John
To: Harmon's Peak
Subject: A Big Thank You From the Palo Alto Farmer's Market
Date: Mon, 12 June 2006

On behalf of the entire board of the Palo Alto Farmer's Market, I wanted to thank you and Harmon's Peak for the wonderful music that you provided for our opening day of the market on Saturday, May 13th. We were all so impressed with the high quality of musicianship--and the variety of songs and styles that we heard. We have learned that “live music” is as big a deal for the kids in our neighborhood as it is for the grownups--and the performers at the market often provide their first up close and personal experience with musicians. The kids watched you with great fascination and enjoyment--thanks so much for being so patient with them. We look forward to your next appearance . . .

Yours truly,
Lauren John
Music coordinator
Palo Alto Farmer's Market

Harmon's Peak has also played at:

Freight and Salvage in Berkeley as part of Dr. K's Homegrown
Roots Review (POSTER), The Hidden Villa Homeshcool Day Festival, The Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival, San Francisco Free Folk Festival, The Plough and Stars as part of the San Francisco Bluegrass & Old Time Music Festival. Palo Alto, Monterey, San Francisco, Aromas and Hayward Contra Dances, The Bing and Reller concert series at Stanford Hospital, KPFA and the Fresno Historical Society Civil War Re-enactment.

History | The Name | The Music | Testimonial | Lessons | Contacts

We teach
It is informal, homespun and very accessible to beginners and experienced musicians alike. We've helped many people on their way to becoming traditional musicians; if you like our music and would like to make some of your own, please e-mail us to set up an introductory lesson.  

History | The Name | The Music | Testimonial | Lessons | Contacts

Art is paying attention.
art friedman
fiddle held chin style


Paul Clarke: Ph: (408) 749-0184
Five string banjo.

Ernest Kinsolving: Ph: (650) 365-4392
Fiddle (arm style).

Art Friedman: Ph: (650) 224-5604
Fiddle (chin style), bodhran and five string banjo.

Karl Franzen: Ph: (650) 856-6445
Guitar, harmonica, pennywhistle, bodhran.

Some friends of ours who teach music in the Bay Area:

Gary Breitbard: Ph: (650) 493-0693
Keyboard and button accordion, fiddle, guitar, piano, and banjo. Also does French and other Euro-music.

Alan Keith: Ph: (650) 964-5279
Bagpipes & Diatonic Button Accordions, Misc. Wind Instruments & Percussion.

Peter Tommerup: Ph: (408) 867-9762
Hammered dulcimer and Appalachian mountain dulcimer.
He also teaches at the Redwood Dulcimer Day Workshops, among others.

His wife Lee Anne Welch performs in the group Sidesaddle and Luceo and others, and teaches fiddle in Saratoga.

Gary and Peter
karl franzen, gary breitbard and peter tommerup 
jamming at a reception 

website by k franzen and e kinsolving