13-year-old Thatcher Harrison to headline Farmers Market
When Thatcher Harrison was about nine, he joined fellow Dartmouth musician Charlie Cover on stage at the Padanaram Village Farmers Market one Friday afternoon to perform a few songs.
“When the kid was playing, everything stopped,” said organizer Tony Melli. “No one was buying anything. Everyone was staring at this kid with a voice like an angel.”
Melli said that following his first performance, Thatcher asked him to perform by solo at the market, which takes place every Friday during the summer. He told Harrison that once he learned 26 songs, he’d be hired. By the next summer, Harrison had the songs down.
“He said, ‘You’re going to hire me,’” said Melli, “and I said, ‘I sure am.’”
For the past three summers since, Harrison, now almost 14, has been playing the Farmers Market solo, and he’ll return to Rex Field for the second time this summer on Friday, Aug. 14 from noon until 6 p.m.
Harrison is not only a great singer, but it fair to say he’s also a guitar prodigy, playing across several genres from folk and jazz to finger-style picking and classical guitar, even playing two guitars at once.
Having played since before he was two, he has goals of becoming a professional musician and is currently studying (and practicing) for the esteemed Berklee College of Music in Boston.
“I do want to become a guitar player,” said Harrison. “I’m going through the Berklee book — it’s the best guitar program in the country. That’s my target.”
Harrison, who is home-schooled, said that since he left traditional school a few years ago, he’s improved greatly as a guitarist. Being at home, he said, has allowed him to practice guitar for several hours a day.
“It’s going good,” he said. “It gives me more time to practice music, and I’ve improved as a guitar player by leaps and bounds.”
Harrison, who first performed at an open-mic session at the age of six and who has since performed for crowds of more than 1,000 people, said he also produces music, though he’s not as into writing lyrics as he is in coming up with the arrangements themselves.
“I do compose some original stuff,” he said. “I’m in process of composing a string quartet, and I compose in my spare time.”
Harrison’s parents, Stan and Tracy, are both professors at UMass Dartmouth. Stan, who also plays guitar, said that, aside from his son’s obvious musical talents, he’s a good kid all-around. Recently, Thatcher volunteered to play a benefit for food kitchens in Tiverton without anyone asking him to do it.
“He’s just a really nice human being,” Stan said. “I like him. You can see all that talent...but he really has embraced the idea that he plays for other people.”
Thatcher Harrison will also play at “Harrifest: A Tribute to George Harrison” on October 17 at Seaport Inn and Marina in Fairhaven. For more information, visit his Facebook page.