"The Journeyman Harper" contains 17 solo harp tracks from Matt's Renaissance Faire repertoire. About a third of the pieces are Irish folk melodies evocative of a rich harp tradition. There are also a few Swedish traditional melodies, lively and haunting. Complimenting these are ancient-sounding medieval pieces and elegant Renaissance dances.
Matt Schwarz has been playing music since 1990, trying his hand at guitar, piano, flute, and cello and ranging from classical to folk to heavy metal. He helped form the eclectic rock group Sleepy Hollow in 1999 and has been performing and recording music ever since.
He’d been interested in the harp for years, inspired by a love for Irish traditional music, and finally acquired a 3-octave lap harp at the 2001 Celtic Classic in Bethlehem, PA. About a month after laying hands on it, Matt used it to record the medieval-inspired original composition “Broken Wings” for Sleepy Hollow‘s (otherwise hard-rocking) “Goin’ Over” album. However, other musical commitments didn’t allow him to delve much into harp-playing for a while, although he used it on the song “Little Katie” for his 2003 solo acoustic-folk album “The Lost Way”, around the same time lineup difficulties with Sleepy Hollow caused Matt to begin performing acoustic gigs - solo, with a stripped down Sleepy Hollow, and with the group Sacred Fool. Matt began working more with the harp at this time, as well as working in more of the traditional music he loved.
This change in direction led Matt to renaissance faires, where he could play the kind of music he loved to a receptive audience. He began practicing the harp in earnest over the winter of ‘03-’04, working up a repertoire of traditional, renaissance , and medieval pieces on harp, as well as guitar and flute. Beginning with the 2004 NJ Renaissance Kingdom, Matt worked up a circuit of about a dozen festivals - journeying as far as Virginia and Maine, and being asked back to many festivals on subsequent years. Matt acquired a 5-octave harp (as well as adding mandola, Irish flute, and recorder to his repertoire). Matt’s focus on the harp was energetic medieval dances, traditional narrative ballads, elegant renaissance compositions, and lively Irish dance tunes. He also performed as a “wandering minstrel” with renaissance guitar, accompanied dancers on recorder and flute, and played various instruments (mostly guitar) with the renaissance/Gypsy/Irish instrumental group Sarabande.
Relocating to Colorado at the end of 2007, and being accepted as harpist at the 2008 Colorado Renaissance Festival, Matt finally was able to focus almost exclusively on the harp. Matthew Rose of the early music ensemble Castle Musicale offered to record Matt at his studio, and performing 11 hrs. a weekend at the CORF got Matt in good shape to do so! The Journeyman Harper is the result of this - kept to solo harp with no overdubs to reflect the simplicity of Matt’s live performance (although Matt plans to record some harp and vocal music in the future to reflect the other half of his performances). The album reflects Matt’s various styles - traditional music from Ireland and Sweden and medieval and renaissance pieces from around Europe - evoking an earlier and more romantic time.
Matt is currently collaborating with Castle Musicale on a medieval Christmas album, as well as nearing completion on a double-album from Sleepy Hollow. Matt’s solo recordings, as well as his group work with Sleepy Hollow and Sarabande, are available through cdbaby.com.