Friday, January 16, 2009

Harper's Blog January 2009

Happy New Year !!!

I hope you all had a great holiday season. My band & I are just back from an amazing tour of Belgium, England and Wales. We almost didn't fly out of Detroit because our flight to New Jersey was cancelled. Bobbi managed to get us all on an earlier flight, so it was a mad rush to the airport. We had a great flight to London but unfortunately my didgeridoos and harps didn't make it. Our good friend Howard Graves was also with us & his bag went missing as well. It was a bit disconcerting as we had to catch the Eurostar fast train to Belgium with out our bags. We were assured that the bags were on the next flight. Actually it was a blessing in disguise as we really had too much luggage to carry and there were no trolleys. Two elderly ladies literally fell over on the escalator to the Euro star because they couldnt carry their bags. We helped them to get to the train amongst a stampede of people pushing to get to the entrance. Flying is definitely alot more civilized. Once we got to Brussels we were met by the festival director Eddy Plasquay. Eddy had hired "a large American van" to transport us to Vilvoorde - the city where the festival was to take place. Well this large American van was just a large sedan and we had six people, guitars and luggage. We literally squished into the car. It reminded me of the car crushes we used to have at school. We managed to get in 27 thirteen year olds into one car. Eddy was so frightened of getting pulled over by the cops that he took all the back roads to Vilvoorde - so we had to endure about an hour of been squashed.

We had a great time in Belgium & thankfully the didgeridoos turned up on the day of the festival. The Pjeire Blues Festival was held in the grandiose stables of a bankrupt aristocrat. It was a great night to experience. We had an amazing show and I was invited to jam with Javier Vargas and the Vargas Blues Band from Spain. Later we found out exactly what the word "Pjeire"mean't. It is a slang word for 'horse eaters". So we performed at a horse eaters blues festival!!!! Apparently horse meat is considered quite a delicacy in Vivoorde and Eddy wanted to take us to a horse meat restaurant. Everyone was hyped up to eat horse, except Bobbi who is a big horse lover. We arrived too late at the restaurant after our show at Crossroads Cafe. Everyone except Bobbi, was disappointed. On one of our off days Bobbi, Mike, Howard and I visited Paris, while Marc & Ralph went to Amsterdam. Paris was freezing, but we managed to see quite alot in one day. Our friend Howard was on a spiritual pilgrimage for his wife Holly who passed suddenly in September. He poured her ashes into the river Seine just across from the Eiffel Tower. It was a very poignant moment- one I will never forget.

After another ride on the Eurostar to London, we arrived in England for a week of shows. The UK was very warm compared to Belgium. Our shows at The Cellars in Southsea, The Musician in Leicester and The Green Room in Macclesfield went really well. Worthenbury Hall in Wales was amazing. It is such a beautiful country that has retained its cultural identity. It was so nice to catch up with the many friends we had made in 2007 on our first trip. In Liverpool we did the Beatles tour at The Kasbah- the very first place the Beatles performed. Rory Best (brother of Pete Best) was our tour guide and his early stories of the Beatles just about blew us away. That evening we played to a packed house at Foghertys. It was a fun week and we plan to tour the UK again in late August and September.

We flew back to Chicago on December 22 then took the short flight to Detroit. Well this time we all lost our bags thanks to Northwest Airlines. Detroit airport was in disarray , there had to be at least 1000 delayed bags just sitting at baggage claim. After 2 hours we got out of the airport then drove back to Grass Lake to find our house snowed in. We stumbled through two feet of snow to get to the front door. Then we spent the next hour and a half digging Marc & Mike's car out of the snow. What a night.!!!

After nine anxious days I received my four foot long bag containing the didgeridoos & harps. Wooohoooo!! With a new year we have a new beginning. We welcome GT from Flint, Michigan as our new bass player. We wish Ralph all the best best for the upcoming birth of his new son.

We wish you all the very best for 2009. May it be a year of peace, prosperity, joy and inspiration for us all.

Peace, Harper, Bobbi, Marc, Mike & Ralph & new bass player GT (Official Harper Website) (for CD down loads) (for live video clips) (for CD orders & downloads)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

December Newsblog

Hey Everyone,

November saw the election of Barrack Obama here in the US. It was truly a historical and inspirational day. Congratulations to all those voters, regardless of political persuasion, who got out to vote.

We had alot of festivals to do in October. The Roots n Blues n BBQ festival in Columbia, Missouri was beyond huge- there had to be over 100 000 people attending. Incredible weather and a multi stage, multi artist festival- it was very cool to be apart of. We saw Bettye Lavette, Buddy Guy, Tab Benoit and many many more. Columbia is a very unique college town full of art and music, I really hope I get to visit it again soon.

The Pleasure Island Seafood Jazz & Blues Fest in North Carolina was one WET festival. We were really surprised that we got to play. The festival director had told us that we probably wouldnt perform but we went to the festival grounds anyway. Low & behold, the music was jammin, a fairly decent crowd in wet weather gear & umbrellas fronted the stage and all was a go. Johnny & Edgar Winter were the head liners that night & I guess people really wanted to see this legendary act. The wind was howling and the rain was pelting down, but the folks of North Carolina hang in there and they got to see the Winter brothers perform.

The following week the band & I took part in the outreach program of the LEAF festival. We did a didgeridoo workshop / presentation to the Black Mountain Elementary School, North Carolina. We followed up the next day with Aboriginal art, dance and the making of didgeridoos. It was a lot of fun. We also performed at the LEAF festival that weekend. And what a beautiful location, surrounded by mountains and a good sized lake. The weather was warm but absolutely freezing at night and when youre on an out door stage, you really feel it. This was a really cool festival with amazing diversity of music. Then we headed to PA, NY , MA & Maine for shows at Tully's, The Dinosaur BBQs, Harry's, Inn on the Blues and our favorite Halloween party- The Time Out Pub in Rockland. We also did a Halloween party on the Oct 31 at Rubes in Michigan & got to see some amazing costumes. We also visited our favorite home gig at The Fire Fly in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

In November we headed south to Florida, Alabama and Mississippi for the incredible River Hawk Music Festival. River Hawk was alot of fun. Some really great music was heard and the vibe was friendly and relaxed. We hung out after our show by a warm fire and listened to some acoustic bluegrass jammers.

In December we have our first tour of Belgium coming up with an addtional tour to England and Wales. The session we recorded at the BBC Radio 2, London - "The Paul Jones Show" in May will be aired on Monday December 8

We hope to see you out on the road this Winter

Harper & Midwest Kind (Official Harper Website) (for CD down loads) (for live video clips) (for CD orders & downloads)