There's a good chance you've heard the name Josh Harvey lately. He's popped up on podcasts, presented about music at conferences, joined a Sherlockian group overseas, and possibly let you know about a Sherlockian play happening in your area. But many folks have opened up their inboxes to find a message from Josh saying he's made a gift for their scion. Sketches of Scions is a project where Josh creates a theme song and video for Sherlockian societies that everyone loves. (My favorite is The Parallel Case of St. Louis but I may be a bit biased.)
It goes without saying how nice Josh is, but I'm always taken aback by how smart this guy is! I learn half a dozen new things every time I talk to him, and God bless him for not getting annoyed every time I ask, "what does that mean?" So get ready to be entertained and enlightened with this week's Interesting Interview, Joshua Harvey:
How do you define the
Simply put: I think anyone that is interested or invested in any iteration of the master detective is a Sherlockian. It can be the canon, mass media versions, radio plays, pastiches—even music or dance or visual art. Engagement with the characters and legacy of Holmes and Watson is the only qualifier for me. Different levels of study and hobby follow beyond that, from amateur to consulting to professional, but the core seed is simply enjoying the characters and the stories derived from them.
How did you become a Sherlockian?
I began, like many people, by watching the Granada series starring Jeremy Brett. I watched them as a child on PBS Mystery in their original broadcast. I then began reading the canon and sort of fell in love with mysteries in general (Philip Marlowe, Perry Mason, Nero Wolfe). There’s obviously enough of that content to keep you going for pretty much forever. When the RDJ movies and BBC Sherlock came out, it got me reinterested and I bought and watched the Brett films all over again. This led me back to the stories and my first society, The SherlockHolmes Society of Scotland. A few years later I presented at 221BCon where I first encountered some of the national Sherlockians. Once Covid hit and the floodgates of scion meetings were accessible via Zoom I was able to make connections worldwide and learn from so many wonderful folks.
What is your profession and does that affect how you enjoy being a Sherlockian?
During most of my life I have been a professional musician (pianist, music director/conductor) who works in collegiate musical theatre, with side work in church music and all sorts of other gigs. Of course this really leads me to be interested in the musical aspects of Holmes, musical references in the canon, and the musics representing Holmes in other media.
What is your favorite canonical story?
Equally: "The Musgrave Ritual" and "The Second Stain." I know that’s cheating, but here we are.
Who is a specific Sherlockian that you think others would find interesting?
Dang, there are so many! I would like to give a shout out to Lynne Stephens, who was the first Sherlockian to spend impactful time with me at 221BCon my first year there. We were able to reconnect this year at Dayton’s Holmes, Doyle and Friends conference. I love her work on food and restaurants in the time of the canon—and she is going to know more about marketing and the TV industry than anyone, which I something know absolutely nothing about. She also shares my love of travel and is quite an Anglophile! I also wish that more people knew Barry Young, The Scotland Yard Jack-in-Office of the Sherlock Holmes Society of Scotland, owner of Young’s Interesting Books in Glasgow, an all-around great human and kind-hearted bloke! We communicate at least quarterly or so on some book or other that he is trying to acquire in the U.S., or I via eBay from the U.K. A great man and a lifelong friend.
What subset of Sherlockiana really interests you?
Obviously as a musician I love the musical aspects, whether
they are parody songs written for meetings, soundtracks, or new works with
music, bad rap songs written for YouTube, whatever—I want to hear everything.
Of those I quite like when people make their own musical medleys of various
famous soundtrack themes.
As the curator of Patrick Gower's Granada musical what interesting tidbits have you come across?
Of all the many things
that are striking, my favorite is that the soundtrack album has bits that were
never in the actual TV show. That is: he wrote new musical material for the
album, mostly so that he could hide the main melody in places that hadn’t been
available to him prior.
How did Sketches of Scions come about?
Randomly I was given permission by the heads of The Legion of Zoom to write something as start-up music for their first online conference. Later on the next fall I had a fair amount of time in my academic schedule to be creative and people had commented on the improbable possibility that the original piece had been the first theme song for a scion. That sort of spurred me to consider other groups in other cities with other canonical connections.
It's an ongoing project,
so when I next have time and energy, there will be more forthcoming!
What book would you recommend to other Sherlockians?
Option #1 will always be the BSI Press’ Referring to My Notes (ed.
Katz/Wilson), which is chock full of excellent essays on many of the various
musical references in the canon. Each article is just a delight in reading and
learning. The blurb on the BSI Press website says something similar to what I
thought when I began reading it—these essays are far more scholarly and
advanced past the first seminal, but incomplete, monograph by Guy Warrack.
Where do you see Sherlockiana in 5 or 10 years from now?
Fortunately, I have seen the streams of the different communities grown closer together via the pandemic and Zoom meetings. I also feel like the traditional holder of canonical studies, the BSI, has opened up to so many younger and different Sherlockians who come from other forums, like 221BCon. There is room for them all and we need to keep making room for them all! I also hope that in the next decade we have new media adaptations of Holmes and Watson to keep younger generations gatewayed (but not gatekept) into the canon stories that we all know and love.