The heart of Flat Top Reed is the acoustic duo of Paul Harshman and John Anglim, two musicians who have played professionally with bands of virtually every description. Their separate musical paths stretch back decades, touching blues, folk, rock, jazz, country, rockabilly, grunge, and eclectic groups that defy description. Those paths crossed right here in Grand Junction in 2002, when they met through a volunteer project for Community Radio Station KAFM.
In just a few short years the duo has become one of the hardest working and well-known local acts, appearing at venues such as: Boomers, Dolce Vita, The Sports Page, The Spotlight Lounge, Higher Grounds, Mesa Theatre and all the usual outdoor venues, including local festivals, The Farmers Market, and The Botanical Gardens Amphitheatre.
Flat Top Reed is also sought after for private parties, where their easy mix of rock and blues and folk appeals to a wide variety of musical tastes. Their self-titled CD was named Best Local New Release for 2003 by James Williams, Music Director for KAFM Community Radio.
The band has also been the subject of a feature story by noted music writer and historian Rebecca Davis, as well as features by entertainment journalist, Peter Frankland. Although best known for their work as a duo, Flat Top Reed is frequently joined by other area musicians for some truly eclectic and inspired collaborations on stage.
Over the course of their separate musical journeys, Paul and John have played practically every kind of contemporary music and shared the stage with acts like the Subdudes, The Dixie Chicks, Lu Anne Barton, Trout Fishing in America just to name a few. From the elite rooms like the Caravan of Dreams and the clubs of Dallas and Denver to the dives of Jacksboro Highway in Texas, all the way to the pubs of England and Paris, their footsteps have led them here to Western Colorado, where as Flat Top Reed, they have found yet another musical home.
Paul Harshman started playing guitar in the third grade. His first garage band at age 14 was an eclectic collection of local 70's rockers combining the accordion, congas, electric guitars and various lawn tools to cover music from Santana, Neil Young, Creedance Clearwater Revival and others. Like many Colorado boys, Paul got his early blues influences first from white blues players in the early 70's like John Mayhall and Eric Clapton. However, these only whetted the appetite and it wasn't long before names like Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, B.B. King, Chuck Berry, John Lee Hooker, Jimi Hendrix and Muddy Waters came into the picture.
By 1976 Paul hit the music scene in Denver trying to learn everything and play with everybody. There were always street musicians on 16th street and hippies, miners and madmen at Washington park who had something to contribute to Paul's music education. Playing with various bar bands and just generally being ready to play for any occasion put Paul in contact with a wonderful array of musicians, some famous, some never to be heard from again.
The celebrated, contemporary jazz instrumentalist, Al Di Meola, once listened to Paul and some other street musician friends in Larimer Square in Downtown Denver in 1979 and showed his appreciation by providing tickets to his own concert that night.
The famous harmonica player James Cotton, well known for his days with Muddy Water's Legendary Blues Band, once encouraged Paul to start his own band and get on the road. Unfortunately, it was quite some time before the great blues man's advice would take hold. Paul was content to play with some great players in the Denver area like Tim Garst of Propeller, who together with Paul started Noah Steam in late 1986. Noah Steam was a six-piece rock and roll band playing originals written by Paul and Tim and also covering songs from bands like the Stones, Cars, Van Morrison and Lynard Skynard. Noah Steam worked its way up from the bottom of the Denver circuit starting out on skid row at the Longhorn at 21st and Larimer Street in Denver and ending up in the glitz-rock dance bars in the suburbs. By 1989 Paul was back on his own playing his own way. Life conspired to keep the performing to a minimum until recently, although Paul continued to play his music with friends around living rooms and on porches across the western slope.
Now, with Flat Top Reed, Paul's extensive experience comes once again to the fore for audiences to appreciate - and they do.
John Anglim grew up in Washington D.C., where his earliest influences were the soul and R&B radio stations of the sixties. John used to attend the performances at the famous Howard Theatre where he saw acts like Jr. Walker and the All Stars, Ike and Tina Turner, James Brown, Rufus and Carla Thomas, Wilson Pickett, The BarKays and a host of other soul acts. Sometimes, John was the only white person in the crowd.
By the late sixties, John had read too much Jack Kerouac and was on the road, hitchhiking around the country with a harmonica for company. It was the beginning of a lifelong friendship.
By the early seventies, John found himself in Texas where he played with several country bands before settling in for a long stint with The Hank Hankshaw Show, a North Texas Rockabilly band. The group was popular in the clubs of Fort Worth, Sundance Square and also at Arts Festivals. They produced an album and continued to play the clubs of the infamous Jacksboro Highway. In the mid nineties they placed 4th in a statewide competition in Austin. That was too much like success and the band broke up.
Several members from Hankshaw began to back up the legendary Texas blues man Robert Ealey. That's where John met Texas blues guitarist Holland K. Smith. After a time, he joined with Holland in a five-piece blues band called Terraplane Blues. Terraplane played in and around Fort Worth and Dallas for a number of years, and were featured on a Texas Blues Compilation Album called Red Hot Texas Blues.
The next musical incarnation was a trio called Zen Cafe, which focused on acoustic material. Zen Cafe was very popular around Fort Worth and Dallas, producing an album and playing the better clubs and opening for people like The Dixie Chicks, Lu Anne Barton, Jason Williams, and Trout Fishing in America. It was with Zen Cafe that John frequently played at the famous Caravan of Dreams, one of the premier music rooms in the country.
It was about this time that John teamed up with original Dixie Chick, Robin Macy, for a 14 week run of the musical comedy Pump Boys and Dinettes. That show was voted best of the season by theatre audiences.
From D.C. to Texas, to the pubs of England, and now to Colorado, John Anglim has been delighting audiences for over 30 years.