Harper and Midwest Kind (USA)
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SAT 4 – 8:15PM – 9:15PM
An amalgamation of blues, soul and world music, multi award winning 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 World music, Harper has created a highly original take on the roots genre which many have labeled “World Blues”. Harper has received an amazing 14 x Music Awards in four different countries.
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 (USA) Rod Ames, adds that Harper ” has written and arranged some of the most soulful blues rock filled music I have ever heard”. Harper is backed by his very talentedt Detroit based band “Midwest Kind”.
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 Grandfather 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 Aboriginals 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 Aboriginals 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 Aboriginals who saved my father and I from starvation when we were trapped at The Fitzroy Crossing (Western Australia), in between two fast flowing river torrents. They gave us enough food and water to last us until the flood had subsided. I feel my music is my way of giving back to these wonderful people”.
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. Andrew’s” in 2002. In 2003 he released “Way Down Deep Inside”, for which he received two harmonica awards and Album of the Year honour from US Magazine’s “Guide to the Best of the Blues Harmonicas & Beyond” USA.
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 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 favourite on the world wide festival scene with an average of 20 to 30 festivals and 200 club dates per year.
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 wih 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’s third Blind Pig release “Stand Together” (2010) reached number 10 on the Billboard Charts and number 1 on Sirius XM Bluesville Charts. Harper’s CD “Live at the Blues Museum” (April 16, 2012- Blu Harp Records) was recorded at Canada’s only Blues Museum, Place Concorde, Windsor, Ontario. “Live at the Blues Museum”reached number 1 on the Sirius/ XM National Radio Charts, USA/Canada. The CD received “Best Live Recording” award by Blues411, New York, USA. 2012. Windsor, Canada’s Television network- CFTV 34 aired “An Evening with Peter D. Harper” in the Spring of 2013.
Harper was also nominated for two -2013 Detroit Music Awards- “Outstanding Artist” and “Outstanding Recording”. Harper released an 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 received a 2013 “Happy to Have the Blues Award”- Best Instrumentalist” -“Big City Rhythm n Blues Magazine”.
Harper won a 2014 Detroit Music Award for “Outstanding Vocalist” and was also nominated for FIVE Detroit Music Awards. Harper and Midwest Kind was featured on PBS TV- WKAR “Back Stage Pass” in March 2015. This TV presentation was syndicated worldwide: link: http://video.wkar.org/video/2365430223/
Harper was nominated for two x 2015 Detroit Music Awards- World Music Songwriter and World Music Instrumentalist
On March 31st, 2016, Harper released his new CD “Show Your Love’ (Blu Harp Records) The new CD had its debut at #9 on the Billboard Blues Charts, reaching # 3 – July 27, 2016. An amazing 17 x weeks in the Top Ten on Billboard, July 27, 2016) only being beaten out by Eric Claption and Joe Bonamassa. “Show Your Love” also hit # 6 on the Roots Music Report, USA (12 weeks in Top ten) # 1 in The Netherlands and #3 on the Australian Blues Charts.
Funded by his fans via a very successful “GoFundMe” campaign, Harper’s latest CD, ,” features 11 original road-tested tracks recorded with his well-traveled Detroit-based touring band “Midwest Kind.”.Harper’s latest offering features his strong, resonant voice and a deep, almost mystical approach to music that some might say has evolved into its own genre.
Harper calls it “World Blues” — a rich musical stew of ‘50s rhythm and blues, a ‘60s message of love and unity, and ‘70s funky soul, stirred up with masterful harmonica and the deep, woody, percussive tones of the didgeridoo, served up in a feast of timeless mystery. 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.