Rudi Harst + the Rudiments
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Rudi Harst + the Rudiments

San Antonio, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1979 | SELF

San Antonio, Texas, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 1979
Band Pop Singer/Songwriter

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"Rudi Harst puts the performance in art"

Rudi Harst puts the performance in art
'House of Yes' is troubadour/storyteller's first release in 15 years

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Rudi Harst remembers well the day he chose to play guitar and sing songs. “It was in February of 1964, the day after I saw the Beatles on 'Ed Sullivan,' like about 10 million other kids,” Harst said, laughing. “My dad had a guitar around the house. I picked it up and haven't put it down. “My dad worked two jobs. The only time I saw him really happy was when he sat down and played guitar. I absorbed that.”
Harst, 61, was born in Holland, raised in New Braunfels and graduated from Trinity University in 1970. In the '70s, Harst, with sound tech Charlie Athanas, played original music that mixed and matched folk, rock, reggae and more in places such as the Beer Haus and the original Friendly Spot — the same places garage bands, roots rockers, blues artists and even punk bands made music.
“I always wrote songs,” Harst said. “The first songs I wrote I played with my first band, the Ho-Dads. I remember I was making $1 for washing a car, maybe $2 for mowing a lawn. The Ho-Dads made $25 for playing our first sock hop.
“I thought that was great, not realizing I'd be playing for that same twenty-five bucks when I started playing in bars. That made me realize I couldn't keep playing in bars.”
Friday, Harst will celebrate the release of his CD “House of Yes,” his first new release in 15 years, by staging a concert in the Twig Book Shop.
“The good thing about playing those venues, those bars and ice houses, as a solo act, is I had to be an actor, dancer, musician and storyteller to keep the attention of the same people who were there to see the bands,” Harst said. “I became a performance artist.
“That same skill set enabled me to work in schools, in hospitals and for corporations where the pay was better. Charlie Athanas was an integral part of the sound and the theatrics. He was a sound sculptor, one of the earliest, and that was in the analog days. When Charlie moved to Chicago, I had to find a way to keep that kind of dimension.”
In the early '80s, Harst and his wife, Zet Baer, moved around a bit, landing in New York City then in California where they worked with the Whole Life Expo. In the late '80s and early '90s, Harst became what he calls a “New Age troubadour,” traveling to conferences, churches, yoga centers and conventions, to anywhere people wanted to listen to a singing songwriter with an uplifting message.
When Harst opted off the tour road, he came back to San Antonio. Two decades ago, Harst and Baer founded the Celebration Circle, which meets Sundays in the Sterling Houston Theater at Jump-Start in the Blue Star Arts Complex. Harst is the spiritual director, Baer the executive director. Harst also has played on Chapel Hill at the Kerrville Folk Festival for 15 years.
“The Celebration Circle is an inclusive, interfaith organization with a creative approach to spirituality,” Harst said. “We have Buddhists, Christians, Jews and even a couple of atheists who come to the Celebration Circle.”
During his barroom days, Harst could go dark with a lyric, but his delivery was so kinetic, his overall attitude so positive, that the dark and the light were in balance. The songs on “House of Yes,” produced by folksinger Tom Prasada-Rao, also strike a balance. The title track, “Would You Rather Be Right (or Would You Rather Be Happy?),” “Getting Old Is Getting Old,” “Absolutely Nothing” and “Mañana” hew to a plain-spoken, common-sense ethic that rhymes more often than not.
“A Rudi Harst song has a beginning, a middle and an end. That's neither good nor bad. That's just the way my songs are.
“I hadn't recorded an album in 15 years. Mateo (Harst and Baer's son) is 14, so you can figure out the recording gap. But I hadn't stopped singing, performing and writing. I write something every day. I love the guitar sound Tom gets. He's one of my musical heroes.
“This album is a concentrated effort to move beyond the spiritual arena. Spiritual principles are still at work, but they're between the lines. This album is for general audiences but it's not for everybody.”
Harst stays busy. “I'm blessed I married Zet Baer. She's calm and detail oriented. I take every opportunity I can to share my music. I show up with a guitar and a willingness to sing and say my piece. Is that a business plan? I don't know, but it works for me.”

jbeal@express-news.net

In concert
Who: Rudi Harst with percussionist Michael Madison
Where: The Twig Book Shop, 306 Pearl Parkway, Suite 106 (in the Can Plant)
When: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Friday
Admission: Free - San Antonio Express News


Discography

Now & Then
You Are The Dance
Deep Within
Peace, Be Still

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Bio

Rudi entertains a wide range of audiences with fluid performance style and meticulous craftsmanship. Whether accompanying himself (guitar, piano, flute, harmonica, mountain dulcimer, mandolin) or performing with his band (The Rudiments, available in various formats, from duo to sextet), his material is serious, silly and insightful by turns, but always attuned to the specific audience at hand. His vast repertoire includes clever covers of folk-rock tunes from the 60's-80's, alongside well-honed original songs, stories and spontaneous co-creations. He specializes in semi-improvised lyrics that make the audience feel like he's creating songs on the spot, tailored to the specific circumstances of the moment. He's performed at thousands of festivals, cultural institutions, corporations, conventions, schools and concerts since 1974.

Band Members