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Harping on Harper

Erik Vienneau

If beer commercial music was actually good, then it would probably be written and played by Australian harmonica guru Harper. The singer, composer and harp player, Harper, turns the traditionally heavy, emotional blues into music that seems perfect for that big, beer drinking night out on the town.Although his brand of gritty blues/rock music is upbeat and encourages dancing, it is never fluffy. Listeners still get that down and dirty blues vibe from this Australian native, who plays at the Half Moon Saloon Thursday, Sept. 12.His unique sound got him recognized in Australia, and once he made it big Down Under, he said he felt a craving to hit America’s blues capital of Chicago.”I reached a point in Australia where you couldn’t go much further,” Harper says. “Most performers are comfortable with success in Australia, but I wanted to do so much more.”His first stop in the States was Detroit about six years ago. “The first two years were tough,” he says. “We didn’t know anything.”Harper played Rose’s Lounge and booked a hotel room down the street in one of the worst parts of Chicago. That night Harper turned fear into hope on the track “No Problem,” featured on his latest live release, Live at St. Andrews.”That night there were stabbings and gun fire, so I locked myself in my room and wrote,” he says.Perhaps it was Harper’s lighthearted upbringing on the beaches of Australia that helped give his music soul and levity minus the hard-core American blues player’s vibe.Since those tough days in Chicago, Harper has hit festivals and clubs across the U.S., and says he likes Colorado the best.”Colorado to me is the most beautiful part of America,” Harper says. “If they had a beach, it would be perfect.” Harper grew up surfing outside Australia’s West Coast city of Perth, playing for just about any group of people that would listen.”When we play, we just give it all up to the crowd,” Harper says. “I used to play in front of 10 people in Australia and give them just as much as I could. That’s what we still do today, and I think that has helped to make us popular in the States.”His harp skills have been compared, by American critics, to John Popper (Blues Traveler), Sugar Blue and Hendrix’s guitar virtuosity. His song writing ability has been described as emotional and introspective.Last, but certainly not least, his vocals are brilliant and soulful and with all of the above accolades it’s no wonder that last year saw Harper complete his seventh American-Canadian tour, embark on his groundbreaking European tour and sign on the dotted line with Nibelung Records.Catch the latest incarnation of feel-good, deep-down-and-dirty blues at 9 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 12 at the Half Moon Saloon.


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