Lisa Lynne and Aryeh Frankfurter have played across a vast landscape — both geographical and musical — and hail from the San Francisco Bay Area, but they feel at home on the Central Coast.
The Celtic harpists and multi-instrumentalists will be performing together at Painted Sky Studios in Harmony on Jan. 17. The pair will also be conducting two daytime workshops in San Luis Obispo: “Improvising on the Harp” and “Swedish Music and Arranging for Celtic Harp” during their visit.
“I feel at home here,” Lynne said in an email interview. “I love this entire area, and I get a peaceful feeling the moment I arrive. All the places I have traveled, this just gets your soul somehow, and there is no place like it.”
Even Lynne’s harp comes from the Central Coast. It’s the product of San Luis Obispo-based Triplett Harps.
Lynne and Frankfurter, who have been performing together for six years, previously played at Castoro Cellars in Templeton. Frankfurter has played at the Central Coast Renaissance Festival and Morro Bay’s Art in the Park event as well.
It will be their first appearance in Harmony, but not their first at Painted Sky. When the studio was located in Cambria, they played there with vocalist Molly Pasutti and a wire-strung harpist/storyteller named Patrick Ball, who is a frequent touring companion.
The performers’ current focus on Celtic instrumental music follows forays into street performance and the rock.
“Although I am a classically trained violinist, I spent my formative teens and 20s years playing both folk music as well as a rock ’n’ roll electric violinist,” Frankfurter said.
He spent 10 years in a San Francisco-based progressive rock band that combined elements of “Mahavishnu Orchestra, Led Zeppelin and Yes with a heavy dose of Middle Eastern and dance rhythms.”
The band ultimately broke up after producing two albums, but Frankfurter and some of his former bandmates subsequently hooked up with former Yes frontman Jon Anderson, who now lives on the Central Coast.
Frankfurter had the opportunity to work on some material with Anderson in the singer’s home studio. “That was a special experience for me, as I idolized him in my youth,” he said.
Lisa Lynne and Aryeh Frankfurter teamed up six years ago and will play together in Harmony on Saturday, Jan. 17. They have released more than 30 recordings between them.Lynne’s background is, she said, “more from the heavy metal camp.”
She taught herself to play the harp by figuring out the chords from Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin albums. Like Frankfurter, she counts Yes as one of her influences, along with Genesis, Pink Floyd and Aerosmith.
At 21, Lynne was making a living in an all-girl classic rock band playing biker bars and military bases. She continues to work full time as a bass player.
Her rock background, however, stands in contrast to her style on the harp.
“Although Lisa has a similar rock ’n’ roll background, her harp music and style is extremely beautiful, lush, passionate but gentle and very much down-tempo,” Frankfurter said. “She uses space in her music like no one else I know — the notes between the notes. Her music is intensely melodic, but the magic comes in the space and time she employs and her solid tempo and restraint.”
Response to tragedy
That soothing quality fits perfectly into Lynne’s Hands-on-Harps project, a series of interactive workshops featuring 20 Celtic harps that she has presented in hospitals, schools, senior centers and summer camps. She was the first musician-in-residence at City of Hope National Center — a cancer and medical research facility in Los Angeles — where her music was integrated into its treatment programs.
The inspiration for Hands-on-Harps was born out of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado in 1999. The family of one of the victims, a teenage girl who had been paralyzed from the waist down, contacted Lynne.
“She had difficulty sleeping, but her family wanted me to know that one of my CDs soothed her and helped her sleep,” the musician said.
Lynne arranged for the student to receive a Celtic harp of her own and began writing to hospitals and other healing centers about the idea of incorporating music into treatment and rehabilitation. City of Hope was the first to respond; that program is approaching its 12th anniversary.
Painted Sky show
Frankfurter and Lynne have more than 30 recordings between the two of them, and will play many selections from those releases during their Jan. 17 show.
The performance will feature a variety of instruments, including two Celtic harps, a rare Swedish nyckelharpa, a Ukrainian bandura and assorted instruments from the mandolin, cittern and bouzouki family.
Lynne and Frankfurter will play traditional instrumental music from Sweden and Ireland, along with original compositions.
In the future, the pair is planning a tour of the Southwest with Ball. They’re also looking forward to recording their third album together. They may even be spending more time on the Central Coast.
“We may be making a big move out of San Francisco,” Frankfurter said. “My son turns 18, and we both are looking to live in a more tranquil area of California. “As a matter of fact, the Central Coast is high on our list of possible new locations.”
If you go
- Who: Lisa Lynne and Aryeh Frankfurter
- When: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 17
- Where: Painted Sky Studios, 2177 Old Creamery Road, Harmony
- Tickets: $18
- Information: The pair will present two daytime workshops in San Luis Obispo: “Improvising on the Harp” and “Swedish Music and Arranging for Celtic Harp.” Email Lisa@LisaLynne.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 805-544-4015.