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Portland’s Prodigal Son: Celebrating Filmmaker, Musicologist, and Mystic Harry Smith, June 15-17

A hot weekend, June 15-17 will bring us more of Harry Smith works than you ever imagined possible. Here's the full schedule.

We are told.

Born in Portland in 1923, Harry Smith is Oregon’s ultimate underground artist-hero, renegade mystic, and collector of sounds. Friends of Harry’s, along with Mississippi Records and the Harry Smith Archives, are continuing this year’s centennial celebration of his life as we reflect on his legacy. Saturday night, June 15, Mississippi Records hosts a night of musicians accompanying Harry’s short films, followed by a Sunday panel on Harry Smith and the PNW  June 16, at Turn, Turn, Turn, and culminating Monday, June 17, at the Clinton Street Theater with a special premiere of the 4K restoration of Smith's Film No. 18 Mahagonny. More information on Harry Smith and Portland’s Prodigal Son can be found at the Harry Smith Archives.

Saturday, June 15 - 7:30 pm @ Hollywood Theatre HARRY SMITH'S 100TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION w/ Mississippi Records Music & Film: Featuring The Portland Sacred Harp Singers, Roman Norfleet And Be Present Art Group, Collate, and Jay Ringer. Special guest, Rani Singh, Director, Harry Smith Archives. A celebration of the work of artist, alchemist, anthropologist, filmmaker, and creator of The Anthology Of American Folk Music —Harry Smith! A night to make your head spin in all the right ways. We'll show some of Harry's best-known films, accompanied by live musicians who perform pieces based on what Harry would play while screening the films. Here's the program! 

Film #11: Mirror Animations and Film #15: Untitled Animation of Seminole Patchwork 

Accompanied by The Portland Sacred Harp Singers. This huge acapella Gospel ensemble will perform the kind of music Harry Smith spent years researching and loved best. A powerful sound that'll shake all the walls and doors. The films are as stunning as films come. 

Early Abstractions: Films # 1-5, 7 & 10; Accompanied by Collate. Collate is a local high-caliber angular rock band. They'll be performing covers of early Beatles songs (!) as a homage to how Harry Smith would often play The Beatles' first album during these beautiful hand-painted abstract films. 

Film #14: Late Superimpositions; Accompanied by Roman Norfleet And The Be Present Art Group. These practitioners of Spiritual Jazz / Great Black Music will be riffing on Dizzy Gillespie songs that Harry would often play during films.

Jay Ringer will be playing songs from The Anthology Of American Folk Music on melodica as transitional music between films. Tickets $15 at Hollywood Theater.

Sun, June 16: Turn, Turn, Turn, 4-7 pm. Harry Smith and the PNW: Stories, Scholars, and String Figures. Join local and guest scholars and writers for an afternoon "matinee" that delves into Harry Smith’s roots in the Pacific Northwest. Meet PNW musician-historian Bret Lunsford, author of Sounding for Harry Smith and Portlander friend of Harry Smith, and Darrin Daniel, publisher of Think of the Self Speaking: Selected Interviews of Harry Smith (1999) in conversation, followed by jazz scholars, and then poets Katherine Factor, Laurence Lilvik, and Christopher Luna. Learn about Smith’s connections to the Pacific Northwest, where his diverse interests in string figures, Native Americans, record collecting, and esoterica began. Sponsored by PDXJazz. $5-$10 suggested donation.

Mon., June 17, 7 pm, Clinton Street Theater: Harry Smith's Film #18: Mahagonny,
PNW Premiere 4K restoration.

Filmmaker, anthropologist, painter, and musicologist Harry Smith worked on Film # 18 Mahagonny, his final film, for over ten years and considered it his magnum opus. His cinematic transformation of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s caustically satirical opera is an allegory that explores human needs and desires amid the rituals of daily life in New York City. The film is a collage composed of various film genres, intercutting portraits of important avant-garde figures such as Patti Smith, Allen Ginsberg, Marty Balin, and Jonas Mekas, New York City landmarks, and Smith’s visionary animation. This is an ultra-rare opportunity to experience the long-form work of the mystic that brought us the Anthology of American Folk Music. Introduction by Rani Singh, Director, Harry Smith Archives. Tickets: cstpdx.com/event/no-18-mahagonny

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