Vernon Ray Harrington was born in 1953 into a Chicago blues family. His father, Rev. Houston H. Harrington, ran Atomic-H Records out of his church basement recording local blues and gospel musicians (including Eddie Clearwater, formerly Eddie Harrington).
However, it was Uncle Earnest who brought Magic Sam over to Houston and Hilda’s Lawndale home in 1964 to play for his nephews Joe and Vernon (especially Joe who was already playing lead on his blue Silvertone guitar). Needless to say, Sam had an impact on the family. Vernon’s Mom, Hilda, recalls the moment telling her sister’s husband, “where’d you all get this man FROM!” Hilda continues, “Magic Sam was, ooooooooooooh, he was, he was tough!” At this point, Vernon started playing Joe’s Silvertone with Mom noting “he used to slip off – I didn’t know where he was or what he was doing at all – he found his way where Magic Sam lived – go right through the park.” Vernon listened to Sam’s records, listened in Sam’s living room, and listened with the hordes that descended on Uncle Earnest’s backyard “BBQ holiday” parties where Sam starred. In fact, Sam frequented the place so much it became known as “Magic Sam’s Backyard.”
Its 2009...and 30+ years of gigging and festivals later, "West Side Blues" is here!
"...blues fans who've despaired at the lack of fresh new voices coming out of Chicago have reason to rejoice: a relatively young guitarist, steeped in the traditional postwar style, has finally stepped up with a well-conceived solo project, with the promise of more good things to come." (David Whiteis, Living Blues)
"West Side Blues is the new release by guitarist/vocalist Vernon Harrington. Primarily a sideman throughout his 30-plus year career, Harrington steps out on his own for the first time with an album that owes its spirit to his West Side roots and guitar-playing here, the late and very great Magic Sam. West Side Blues is a studio album with a live feel. Harrington captured that after-hours, smokey-blues bar atmosphere." (Beverly-Zeldin Palmer, Illinois Entertainer)
"Mission accomplished" (Jean Luc Vabres, Juke Joint Blues and Soul)
"Good stuff!" (Karen Hanson, Today's Chicago Blues)