b. 1955, Armonk, New York, USA. Virtually self-taught in guitar (classical lessons were swiftly abandoned), Reed began playing seriously in his mid-teens and at the age of 17 supported beat poet Allen Ginsberg at the Smithsonian Institute. After becoming a professional musician, he worked in a variety of settings, gaining admiring audiences and respect from fellow musicians. He began recording in the late 70s, releasing a series of acoustic guitar albums on the Sky, Folkstudio and Flying Fish labels. Encouraged by country music artist Lyle Lovett, Reed secured a recording contract with MCA Records in the late 80s.
Resident in Scotland from the early 00s, Reed is an intriguing composer. Among his compositions is a suite for the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet and he has also written film music. Among musicians with whom he has worked is fellow guitarist Laurence Juber, with whom he has recorded in duo. In addition to performing, Reed also teaches, including leading classes at the National Guitar Summer Workshop. He formed Outer Bridge Records at the start of the new millennium, making his debut for the label with the same year’s Handwritten Notes. He has also released instructional videos on Homespun Tapes.
Although Reed began playing acoustic guitar in an orthodox manner, he gradually developed a distinctive technique in which he produces self-accompanying percussive motifs by rapping the guitar body with either hand. Similarly notable is Reed’s use of unusual tuning for the instrument. He has an astonishing technique and continues to draw praise from critics and fellow guitarists.