Harry grew up singing and playing a series of instruments – from the piano to the clarinet, ukulele, baritone uke, and, in college, a six-string guitar.
Philadelphia’s lively folk scene provided the setting for Harry’s first ventures into public singing. From there, friendships with Dick Weissman and Roger Abrahams fostered a growing interest in Anglo-American folk music.
In 1960, needing a break from his studies (preparing for an architectural career), Harry traveled out to the Rocky Mountains for some skiing. He found a job at “The Holy Cat” in Georgetown, as a dishwasher, busboy, waiter, bartender, janitor, and – if there was a lull in the work at night – he could sing in the bar.
There he met Hal Neustaedter – owner of “The Exodus,” a folk club in Denver – who suggested that he look into starting a folklore center in Denver. With further encouragement from Izzy Young, owner of the first and (then) only Folklore Center, in New York’s Greenwich Village, Harry opened the Denver Folklore Center in March 1962.
Putting his energies into the store over the years, Harry has found time for teaching and occasional singing, as time allows. In his first album, “Across the Blue Mountains,” Harry was ably joined by old friends Dick Weissman, Jay Ungar, Ed Trickett, Artie Traum and Laraine Grady Traum. His 2011 album, “Harry Tuft & Friends: Treasures Untold,” is now available.
In 1972, Harry and friends Steve Abbott and Jack Stanesco formed Grubstake – originally named “This Band Is Starving.” Their five albums include “What You Do With What You Got” and “Warts and All.”
If and when you find yourself in Denver, we hope you’ll stop by the Folklore Center. If Harry’s not there, he’s probably not far away. We think you’ll enjoy the mixture of people, music and merchandise you’ll find there.