PART HARMONICA WIZARD AND PART rhythmic explorer, Harper is a fiery artist who blurs the lines between rock, blues, soul and world music. His latest Blind Pig release, "Day By Day", displays his trademark virtuoso harp performances, distinctive instrumentation, deeply soulful grooves and instantly memorable songs and provides another prime example of why his unique roots music style occupies a category of its own. Harper has been described as "a singer with the deep soul of Motown, a harmonica player who can graft Sonny Boy II and Little Walter with John Popper, a songwriter who tells his own compelling stories in an unhurried, J.J. Cale-like manner, and a musical visionary who is unafraid to mix the didgeridoo, an important part of his Australian indigenous culture, with infectious modern percussive rhythms". His skill lies in the fact that he is able to tap into the kindred spirits running through his traditional and modern influences, borrowing from western and world music to develop a highly original take on the roots genre. He also takes the harmonica beyond its assigned place. Harper’s innovative use of electronic enhancement and feedback breaks the traditional boundaries of the harmonica, giving his music its distinctive harmonics and effects.
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.
Prior to his introduction to American audiences, Harper released six albums to great acclaim in his homeland of Australia. 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 2001. 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.”
His prolific recording career and memorable stage performances allowed Harper to take his music beyond Australia. He’s played in Canada, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Singapore and France. He first started performing in the United States in 1996, and has toured here ten times since. It was on one of these tours that he caught theattention of Blind Pig, which made him their first international signing.
Harper’s first Blind Pig 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 latest release from Blind Pig Records, Day By Day, showcases the results of steady touring over the past several years, and his always unparalleled songwriting. Distorted guitars blend with the unique drone of the didgeridoo to create raw yet eerie sonic textures, somehow sounding primal and contemporary, while Harper’s ace band holds down the groove with a keen second-sense of interplay and dynamics that so many groups strive for. Complementing the music are Harper’s compelling lyrics, portraying personal struggles, spiritual discovery, and modern relevance and topicality. Day By Day is certain to turn the heads of audiences looking for originality, honesty, passion and skill in modern roots music.
Showtime is 9PM and cover is $10 at the door.