An amalgamation of blues, rock, funk, soul and world music, Australian singer/ songwriter "Harper" creates a heady mix of roots music through his creative use of the harmonica, and the haunting drone of the didgeridoo. Borrowing from western and world music, this musical visionary develops a highly original take on the roots genre.
“Live at the Blues Museum” was recorded on a cold wintery night on Saturday December 17, 2011 at Canada’s only Blues Museum, Place Concorde, Windsor, Canada. This was a very special evening for Harper as he was inducted into the Blues Museum Hall of Fame before a packed house of rabid music fans. This is also Harper’s first live CD in 12 years and it has proven to be worth the wait. This new CD features 15 original tracks, over 75 minutes of playing from his three Blind Pig Releases “Stand Together” (2010), “Day By Day” (2007), “Down To The Rhythm” (2005) and his two independent releases: “Way Down Deep Inside” (2003) and “Glass On The Stepping Stone” (2000). “Live at the Blues Museum” gives the listener a portal to the magic that happens at a Harper concert. Rambles Magazine describes Harper as “a master Chicago-style harmonica player with elements of Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson in his playing, he also possesses a strong voice and a deep, almost mystical approach to music“. His extraordinary harmonica skills demonstrate electric ferocity to gentle acoustic finesse. Harper’s powerful soulful voice rips through this 15-song set with passion and integrity. His use of the deeply spiritual didgeridoo is definitely NOT a gimmick, but an extension of his song writing and arrangement skills. Harper’s unique sound is reflected in his use of rhythms and a tribal spirit he experienced growing up in Perth, Western Australia. The listener also catches a glimpse of Harper’s sense of humor and his depth of character. Harper loves to perform and we feel his joy!
According to Modern Rock Review--"Harper is an original, playing the harmonica like an authentic Chicago bluesman, singing about unity and love like a member of peacenik jam band, belting crisp vocals like a straight-up classic rock performer, and then pioneering the didgeridoo into these popular forms of modern music, to make it all timeless. He intricately weaves these sounds together and makes it all very entertaining and fun in the process. Unique and quality music of this kind is truly a rare treat" Karyn Albano, Modern Rock Review, April 2012.
Harper’s non-stop touring schedule is self evident in the tightness and ease of performance. He is backed by his incredible Michigan based band “Midwest Kind” which features: Matt Besey on Guitar, Chris Wiley Smith on Bass Guitar/ Djembe and Scott Key on Drums. Their familiarity with the arrangements and with each others abilities allows them to elongate the groove giving Harper a great backdrop for his unique songs. Harper will continue to please audiences looking for originality and individuality in modern roots music with this new Live CD!
Born in the United Kingdom, Harper’s musical journey began early, performing in brass bands playing the trumpet and euphonium. At the age of ten, his family moved half way the world to Perth, Western Australia, and his father introduced Harper to the harp. In Perth, one of the most isolated cities in the world, there was a thriving blues and folk scene. The blues had a rawness, an honesty and a passion of the soul which spoke to Harper deeply. Then, like every blues lover, Harper began his journey backwards to discover the deeper roots of the music.
"I think Muddy Waters really hit me hard. There was something incredibly special about his sound, his powerful voice and his songs. I would sing his songs constantly. I also really dug Sonny Boy Williamson II as well. I loved his rhythmic use of his harp. I was also inspired by a pretty wide range of players and styles like Little Walter, Sugar Blue and Stevie Wonder who guide me in my harmonica playing. "But Harper did not stop his search with the blues. It was a chance meeting with a Hopi "Dan Running Bear" in Silverton, Colorado, that led him down the path to rediscovering the music of his homeland. Fascinated with the spirituality and culture of the American Natives, he found the same qualities present in the Australian Aborigines of his homeland. On adding the native didgeridoo to his music, Harper says "It is a sound I grew up with, so it seemed natural to add it to my songwriting particularly when the lyrics related to the plight of the Aborigines in Australia. When I added the didgeridoo to the more traditional blues instruments, it worked. The deep woody qualities and its haunting drone seemed to enhance the emotional quality of my stories. The didgeridoo is a spiritual and healing instrument, and it seemed blues music accepted it with open arms."
Prior to his introduction to American audiences, Harper released six albums to great acclaim in his homeland of Australia. Harper received a Gold Record for "Sailing Australia" (America's Cup Theme). In 1994 he moved to Melbourne, Victoria and released his first album, "Tears of Ice". This was followed by "Yesterday Is Over" in 1996 with his band Blue Devil and "Live At The Soup Kitchen" in 1997 as a soloist. In 2000, he released "Glass on The Stepping Stone" and "Live At St. Andrew’s" in 2002. In 2003 he released "Way Down Deep Inside", for which he received two harmonica awards and “Album of the Year” honor from US Magazine's Guide to the Best of the Blues Harmonicas & Beyond. Over the years Harper has received multiple Australian Blues Awards for “Male Vocalist of the Year,” “Song of the Year,” and “Acoustic Artist of the Year.”Harper was also invited to perform at a Royal Gala Performance for the Queen of England in Perth, Western Australia. Harper's “Stand Together” CD (Blind Pig Records) was nominated for a 2011 Detroit Music Award. Harper was also listed in the top concerts of 2011 for the City of Chicago.
His prolific recording career and memorable stage performances allowed Harper to take his music beyond Australia. He’s played in the USA, Canada, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Italy, Belgium and France. He first started performing in the United States in 1996, and has toured here regularly since. It was on one of these tours that he caught the attention of Blind Pig, which made him their first international signing. With a home at a U.S. label and growing appreciation for his music from American audiences, Harper made the permanent move to the U.S. His animated shows have been well received at blues festivals, world music festivals, and by fans of jam band music.Harper has become a huge favorite on the world wide festival scene . It was during one of these recent festival appearances that Chip Eagle, Publisher for Blues Revue/ Blueswax enthusiastically offered "Harper is the most exciting act on the live scene today". He was also invited to perform harmonica on stage several times with US super group- "Journey".
Harper’s first Blind Pig Records release and American debut, 2005’s Down To The Rhythm, won accolades from the press for its unique sound and virtuoso performances, coupled with Harper’s compositional skill. “Harper is a crack harp player and he plays the instrument with both speed and efficiency, but it would be a mistake to pigeonhole Harper as just an impressive instrumentalist. He is also a solid songwriter, and a soulful singer with a knack for impassioned sincerity,” said All Music Guide. BluesWax noted, “There is much to enjoy here: clever songwriting, top-notch guitar, powerful rhythms, and some great Harper harp!
”Harper’s second release from Blind Pig Records, Day By Day (2007), provided fans wih another prime example of why his unique roots music style occupies a category of its own. Ramble Magazine raved that Harper's harp and lyrics have " depth of feeling and thought that is unusual in today's music ..Harper's music is essential. It should be widely heard". Downbeat Magazine added "Harper uses his trump cards- a strong and direct singing voice, a stirring harmonica out of Sonny Boy Williamson 11 and Little Walter , a droning didgeridoo - to give his melodic tunes an excitement that suits his intelligent use of blues rock and soul forms". Blues legend John Mayall loved Harper's songs so much so, that he included " Just What You're Looking For" as track 2 on his new CD "Tough" (Eagle Records)
Harper is at the top of his game on "Stand Together" (2010) and his new Live CD "Live at The Blues Museum" (2012). Both CDs showcase his trademark powerful soulful voice, virtuoso harp playing, haunting didgeridoo, deeply, soulful grooves and unparalleled songwriting and compelling lyrics.