PORT TOWNSEND — Thanks to a grant from an anonymous patron, Port Townsend-based harpist David Michael has recently released his 26th album, “Skyburst” — and he is offering high-quality streams on a pay-what-you-wish basis via his new website, www.davidmichaelharp.com.
The recording is a suite of original music for Celtic harp and instruments from around the globe, featuring Grammy-winning oboist Nancy Rumbel, tabla expert Benjy Wertheimer, cellist Jami Sieber, guitarist Michael Mandrell and local violist Gwen Franz.
“I did replicate hard copies too for those folks like me who are old enough to still own CD players,” Michael, 70, quipped.
Listeners can buy CDs on his website or at the Chimacum Arts & Crafts Fair this Saturday. Michael will give a rare public performance at the event, which will bring together some 100 vendors from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Chimacum High School, 91 West Valley Road.
The “Skyburst” album was conceived throughout the dark months of the pandemic, he said. Making this music gave him cathartic release — and on this new recording, Michael plays the harp of his dreams: a 38-string instrument made of bubinga wood.
“‘Skyburst’ happily became a synthesis of big joy, deep dreams and great gratitude,” he said.
Longtime residents of — and visitors to — this region remember Michael as the harpist on the Washington State Ferry runs between Port Townsend and Whidbey Island.
He played on board from 1990 until 2007, when the ferry system told him he would have to carry his harp off the boat and back on again at each of the daily departures.
Washington State Ferries officials said they had received two passenger complaints saying that they had to abide by security measures — taking personal items off upon arrival — while Michael did not.
His practice was to leave the 30-pound instrument on the boat while he scanned his ferry pass. Having to haul it into the terminal and back made continued playing impossible, he said.
In the ensuing years, Michael has continued to give concerts on land, record his music and write; his book, “Busker — Tales of a Renegade Harpist” is available on his website.
He also noted that he’s worked alongside his wife Dari Lewis, a massage therapist who built a massage school in Mountlake Terrace. The pandemic caused its shutdown.
“The good news is that Dari resumed private practice in our home massage studio in Port Townsend,” Michael said.
At Castle Hill Massage, he added, Michael supports his wife by doing all the laundry.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]