Mic Harrison and the High Score know what heaven is like. It’s a place where “every day is Saturday and hangovers don’t exist.” It’s also probably a place where a touring rock band doesn’t have to play on make shift stages that collapse in the middle of shows. A place where the band doesn’t accidentally hit a deer while driving from a gig in rural Delaware and have to deal with the damage (to both deer and van) at 3 a.m. It’s a place where the heater on the van always works so that the band members don’t have to defrost the windshield and themselves by passing around a handheld hairdryer on a tour during the dead of winter…
Then again, who’s splitting hairs? Amid these trials is the earthly knowledge that many fans at the 2006 Mucklewain music festival listed Harrison and the band’s impromptu campground performance the night before the festival as the weekend’s highlight. And it’s seeing the crowd at Bonnaroo turn on and tune in to the band’s hardcore honkytonk rock amid the more mellow vibes. And, maybe every bar or music club isn’t paradise, but it’s by hell or high water that it’s going to be a good time. As one club owner said to the group: “When you unloaded your gear and put your beer cooler on stage first I knew you meant business.”
That’s exactly the attitude behind Harrison’s new album Push Me On Home. Harrison has always had one foot in the honkytonk and the other holding the door open for honest rock ’n’ roll. His music is damp from spilled beer and hard-earned sweat after a two-hour show under hot lights in a club with no air-conditioning. His third solo disc is as bracing as a shot of good moonshine stored in your freezer and as warm as the feeling that comes immediately afterwards.
A native of the tiny town of Bradford in West Tennessee, Harrison learned his chops working in a high school band with Carl Bell and Jeff Abercrombie (future members of the band Fuel) and Jeff Bills (later a founding member of Americana music greats the V-Roys). He left his job working in a sawmill and moved to Knoxville to join Bills in the V-Roys – the first band signed to Steve Earle’s E-Squared Records. Harrison, who shared lead singing and songwriting responsibilities with Scott Miller, arrived in town with a guitar case full of songs – some of which found their way into the V-Roys repertoire and others of which made up his first solo album, Don’t Bail (released in 1999). The V-Roys won acclaim with the debut album Just Add Ice and fans across the United and Europe. After the group’s tumultuous run with Earle and E-Squared (and the band’s second album All About Town finding release on Warner Bros. Records), the V-Roys called it quits at a performance at Knoxville’s Tennessee Theatre on New Year’s Eve, 1999. Harrison teamed with the band the Faults and then with power pop masters Superdrag. While Harrison contributed to Superdrag’s acclaimed swansong Last Call for Vitriol the band went on permanent hiatus in 2003 before Harrison’s songs with the group were recorded.
After the band's split, Harrison began working on the songs that would become his second solo album, Pallbearer's Shoes. Recorded with the creative input of former Superdrag drummer and producer Don Coffey Jr., the disc was released in 2004 on Valley Entertainment to excellent reviews.
While Pallbearer’s Shoes boasted a number of musical guests (including Guided By Voices guitarist Doug Gillard and Harrison’s former V-Roys band mates Scott Miller and Paxton Sellars, and Superdrag partners John Davis and Don Coffey Jr.), Push Me On Home was recorded nearly entirely with guitarist Robby Trosper, drummer Brad Henderson and bassist Vance Hillard, all members of the the High Score, who act as Harrison’s touring band when not working on their own gigs. The new music is as friendly and unavoidable as an inebriated hug from an old buddy. And if the new songs “Wiser the Whiskey,” “Mighty Good Wine” and “Tomorrow’s Bloodshot Eyes” sound like they are the voice of experience, well, you were warned. When a band member awoke after the Mucklewain campground performance and complained about feeling bad a woman who’d witnessed the night before commented: “You drank so much beer I’m surprised you’re alive!”
Forget heaven. This music is worth the hangover
Wayne Bledsoe Host of WDVX-FM’s “All Over the Road,”
Knoxville News Sentinel music critic
For high-resolution press photos, tour dates, song samples and other information visit www.micharrison.com
Mic Harrison and the High Score are also on MySpace