Walter Harris passed away last week. He was a staple of the Savannah scene, but not because of his regular club gigs or recorded efforts. Here a snippet from Larry Jack’s recent reflections about Walter:
Many of you knew Walter, even if not by name. He played on River Street, across from the Bayou, for many years. He later moved a little further east, closer to Spanky’s. He was the consummate street musician. He played on River Street for over 25 years. He could tell you anything about the history of River Street (and much of downtown Savannah too)… Mostly he went to work every day on River Street. I have seen Walter barely able to get out of the car, then play on River Street for several hours, often for only a few dollars. He was one of the friendliest people I know, always greeting everyone with “how you doing?” If he thought you were a tourist, it would be quickly followed by “where you from?” No matter where your home city was, Walter had a song “just for you.” …
River Street will never be the same without him and Savannah has lost a great ambassador. I guess that whenever I go down to the Riverfront, I will always look over to the River side to see if Walter is playing there today. His loss will leave an empty place in my heart, as it does so many people.
Click here to read a 2007 Savannah Morning News article about Walter and his collaborators Marion May and Brian Gilliam.
Harris’ obituary noted that he was a lead guitarist for many church choirs over the years and that he “has been the welcoming face and voice of Savannah’s River Street for over 30 years as self-employed guitarist with a captivating baritone voice.”
On Saturday night, I talked to Jason Bible before and after his set at The Wormhole. Jason has been inspired by Walter, and he spoke movingly of the beauty of the funeral service for Harris earlier in the day. Jason told me that he had been working with Walter on some recordings, and we’re honored present three tracks here. “Everything Must Change” seems especially powerful at this moment. Turn it up.
“Everything Must Change” – Walter Harris:
“Love Melody” – Walter Harris:
“Place in the Sun” – Walter Harris:
During his set at The Wormhole, Jason sang the new song that he also performed during Walter’s funeral: “Sing On.” Here it is: