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Magpie, Kim and Reggie Harris to perform

January 06, 1999

Magpie, Kim and Reggie HarrisBy KATE COLEMAN / Staff Writer




It was a friend's offhand comment that gave the singing duo Magpie its name. Terry Leonino and Greg Artzner, children of the '60s folk revival, met in northeastern Ohio while performing as solo songwriters in 1973. They combined their music and lives, marrying and performing together.

"You look like a bunch of banjo-playing magpies," the friend told them.

[cont. from lifestyle]

The pair likes the way the name has come to fit. Magpies, according to Webster, are birds in the habit of chattering. They collect shiny objects, which Leonino compares to their songs. They build round nests that unify, leaving them for other birds to use.

Two other birds that sometimes share a nest - or at least a stage - with Magpie are Kim and Reggie Harris. The four will perform at Hagerstown Community College Saturday night, part of the Mountain Green concert series.

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The Harrises met in the early '70s when both were counselors at a summer camp near Philadelphia. They sang a song - Carole King's "Home Again" - together at the campfire. "It was magic," Reggie Harris says.

The two couples were introduced in Philadelphia about 1984-85, according to Harris. They got together after a tribute to folk icon Phil Ochs at New York's Bottom Line.

The friends perform separately and together, two duos and one quartet, four voices and a host of instruments. They sing songs, and they write songs. They bring a wide spectrum of interests and backgrounds. Leonino has three special education degrees. Artzner studied music and theater and went back to college and became a registered nurse. Reggie Harris has an English degree from Temple University, and Kim Harris is completing her master's studies in divinity from Union Theological Seminary. They've been influenced by the varied wealth of American music.

Folk music is a nice umbrella, but the Harrises avoid calling themselves folksingers, according to Reggie Harris. Obviously they are folksingers in that they sing songs and tell stories, he says. They had early introductions to classical music, come from the gospel-based, spiritual, African-American tradition and count rock, pop and jazz among their influences. "We pull stuff from so many places," Reggie Harris says.

Magpie and Kim and Reggie Harris have recorded two albums together: "Spoken in Love" in 1995 and "Guide My Feet," which will be available at the end of January, according to Leonino.

Leonino and Artzner see themselves as part of a continuum, as musical historians and educators. "We want people to remember parts of history that get lost," Leonino says.

Indeed, they do programs in schools - as Magpie - and along with the Harrises. "One More River to Cross," is billed as a show about "friendship, freedom, the environment, self esteem, respect ... and seat belts." "Hand in Hand" is the two couples' celebration of "the heroes and sheroes who inspire us to work together in the long quest for justice and equal rights."

"You'd be surprised how really positive it is," Artzner says of the school programs that teach cultural history through music. The younger kids are open and engaged. Even though the older kids often seem to be out to "get these weirdos," the performers channel their energy. "It works every time," Artzner says.

The Harrises live in upstate New York, and although the primary residence of Leonino and Artzner is Takoma Park, Md., they have a place across the street from their fellow songbirds. "It's really quite cozy," Reggie Harris says.

What will the four be doing Saturday night? It will be a mixed bag, Artzner expects. Some freedom songs, a little swing, gospel, something on the environment and maybe songs on certain political issues - although not the current presidential crisis. "We have been restraining ourselves," Artzner says.

They have a pretty large repertoire, Artzner says. They like to keep themselves interested. "We wing it quite often."

Kim and Reggie Harris and Magpie




  • When: Saturday, Jan. 9, 8 p.m.
  • Where: Kepler Theater

    Hagerstown Community College

    Robinwood Drive, Hagerstown

  • Tickets: $15 for adults; $5 for children and students younger than 18. A package of four Mountain Green Concerts costs $50. For tickets, call Hagerstown Community College at 301-790-2800, ext. 309.
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