Harper & Midwest Kind
Calgary International Blues Festival (2014)
An amalgamation of blues, rock, funk, soul and world music, Australian singer/songwriter "Peter D. Harper" creates a heady mix of roots music through his creative use of the harmonica, and the haunting drone of the didgeridoo. By combining traditional and modern influences, borrowing from Western and Aboriginal music, Harper has created a highly original take on the roots genre which many have labeled "World Blues". His innovative use of electronic enhancement and feedback, breaks the traditional boundaries of the harmonica, giving his music its distinctive harmonics and effects. The powerful guitar sounds and the unique drone of the didgeridoo create raw yet eerie sonic textures, some how sounding primal and contemporary at the same time. No Depression Magazine's Rod Ames, adds that Harper "has written and arranged some of the most soulful blues rock filled music I've heard in quite sometime".
Harper's new CD, "Live at the Blues Museum" (Release date, April 16, 2012 - PdHarp Records) 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 10 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". 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! 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: Mike Howe on Lead Guitar, James Norris on Bass Guitar and Greg Sauceda on Drums/ percussion. Their familiarity with the arrangements and with each other's abilities allows them to elongate the groove giving Harper a great backdrop for his unique songs. "Live at the Blues Museum" got to number 1 on the XM/Sirius National Radio Charts, USA/Canada. The new CD received "Best Live Recording" award by Blues411, New York, USA. 2012. Windsor, Canada's Television network - CFTV 34 aired "An Evening with Peter Harper" in the Spring of 2013. Harper was also nominated for two 2013 Detroit Music Awards, "Outstanding Artist" and "Outstanding Recording". Harper also released a new acoustic blues CD with Motor City Josh called "Bare Bones" (Blu Harp Records) in October, 2013 and followed up with a very successful national tour. He also recieved a 2013 "Happy to Have the Blues Award, Best Instrumentalist", Big City RnBlues Magazine. USA. Harper has been nominated for FIVE 2014 Detroit Music Awards, Outstanding Acoustic Vocalist, Outstanding World Music Vocalist, Outstanding World Music Songwriter, Outstanding Acoustic Recording - Bare Bones CD, and Outstanding Blues Recording - Bare Bones 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 round 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. I also owe my life to a tribe of nomadic Aborigines who saved my father and I from starvation when we were trapped at The Fitzroy Crossing, between two fast flowing river torrents. They gave us enough food and water to last us until the flood had subsided".
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). Harper had the honor of backing Blues Legend Muddy Waters on harmonica for his West Australian tour. In 1994 he moved to Melbourne, Victoria and released his first album, Tears of Ice(New Market). This was followed by Yesterday Is Over in 1996 with his band Blue Devil and Live At The Soup Kitchen (recorded in Detroit) in 1997 as a soloist. In 2000, he released Glass on The Stepping Stone and Live At St. Andrews 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.(TREV). Harper was also invited to perform at a Royal Gala Performance for the Queen of England in Perth, Western Australia.
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 Records, 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 with an average of 20 to 30 festivals and 200 club dates per year. 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 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 with 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 "a 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 Your'e 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 exceptional live CD, Live at The Blues Museum (2012) and his acoustic, Harper and Motor City Josh, Bare Bones CD (2013). These CDs showcase his trademark powerful soulful voice, virtuoso harp playing, haunting didgeridoo, deeply, soulful grooves and unparalleled songwriting and compelling lyrics. With his chops at their best and his band, Midwest Kind, sharing his vision, Harper will continue to turn heads of audiences who are looking for originality, honesty, passion and skill in modern roots music.
Harper & Midwest Kind