Music, Friends, and Good Times
Remembering Bryan Harvey
by Steve Wynn
I first met Bryan Harvey when he and Johnny Hott moved to LA and played an amazing show at Raji's. They were amazing. I couldn't believe all of the sound and energy and fury that came from just two people. I was instantly a fan and would not have imagined that I would eventually be in a band with them.
I didn't really spend that much time with Bryan when he and Johnny lived in LA. Both of our bands toured all of the time and even though we had friends, a manager and a record label in common, we didn't have that much time to hang out.
But after Bryan moved back to Richmond, I went to a House Of Freaks show when they came through town on the "Cakewalk" tour. We ended up talking for a long time after the show and sharing stories and gripes, mostly about the frustrations of dealing with the music business and still keeping some kind of artistic integrity and sanity. He told me to come out to Richmond sometime so we could write some songs together.
I think I surprised him a few months later when I was in Nashville and asked if I could drop by, as though Nashville was just down the street rather than an 18-hour bus ride away. As always, he was gracious and generous with his time and told me to come on out.
I spent the next week, I stayed at Bryan and Kathy's house. We kept warm by a wood-burning stove, drank red wine, ate homemade pizzas, played with their cats, told stories and had a great time. Oh, and we wrote a bunch of songs and then impulsively rounded up the extended House Of Freaks lineup and in one night made what became the first Gutterball record.
That time that I spent with Bryan and Kathy was so enjoyable, so easy, so warm, and it reminded me that music is an extension of life. It is not a chore or a task or a burden but rather a reflection of good people, kindred spirits, conversation, good times and friendship. Bryan had gone back to Richmond and found these things and I was grateful to be able to be clued into the life they were living. It was invigorating and it led to three years of touring, another record and so many good times.
Bryan loved being in Gutterball and we had a lot of fun together but he also loved being home with Kathy in Richmond. "I've seen the most incredible cities and have had the most incredible experiences... with a bunch of guys," he would often say, and by 1996 it was apparent that the Gutterball experience was over. I would regularly call and write and nag and cajole, trying to get the band going again, but he was content and happy to be at home, off the road, and enjoying his life. He would always say, "Come on down, hang out with us, let's eat some good food and drink some wine. But I don't have time to make a record or go on the road." I wish I had gone down there more often.
Bryan was incredibly talented. He was a great singer, an unbelievable guitarist, and the best co-writer you could ever want. I loved being one of the "bunch of guys" who got to see the world with him, always through his perspective of the priority being the music and friends and good times, rather than the career aspect. Kathy was such a good friend and always loved to hear the songs we would write, and she created the World of Mirth store, a place that reflected her spirit of fun and community. Stella and Ruby were great kids, and I wish I had had more time to know them. This was a family that got it right, that knew how to live life. They were my friends. I miss them so much.