Friday, September 5, 2014

Harper and Midwest Kind Blog - August 2014

Hey Everyone,

Hope you enjoyed the summer here in the northern Hem!   We had a huge summer festival season this year.  As you all know we have a tour coming up to Australia at the end of October. Its been 7 years since my last visit and over 10 years since Ive seen my folks in Perth  :(   We have put together a limited number of Harper and Midwest Kind Australian Tour Tee Shirts which will be available until October 10th or until stocks run out.  We have all sizes and will also throw in a signed poster by the band.  The shirts go for $25 which includes free shipping within the US.  Add $5 for shipping for the rest of the world.  All the shirts will be mailed out in early October.  All the proceeds will go towards our band airfares and touring costs of our Aussie Tour.  Here is the direct link to our the merchandise page:

In July we made the big road trip from Michigan to Oregon, 35 hours!  We did it in three and a half days, making it safely to Prineville, Oregon for Picnic in the Park. Unfortunately it wasn't "picnicing" weather as we were rained out.  Now as you all may know we musicians rely heavily on GPS navigation to get us from place to place.  Well the GPS who we affectionately call "Jane",  didn't work too well in Oregon.  On our way to the Rhythm on The River Festival in Clatskanie, we were literally guided down a lumber jack's track and ended up on the edge of a cliff.  Now you may well laugh, but this is the second time this has happened to us.  The first time was on our very first Australian national tour, where we had no GPS, just our own stupidity guiding us.  So as a general rule when you hit the dirt, usually something is wrong!  Up next was the Calgary International Blues Festival in Alberta, Canada.  An amazing drive through the mountains. We stayed at The Downtown Ramada Hotel in Calgary and we had "Jake the female mini van driver" pick us up and deliver us to the festival.  Full back line and pretty decent hospitality .  We went on just before The Mannish Boys.  My first time seeing these guys, the singer- Sugaray Rayford was brilliant. At the after show concert, the beer was flowing.  One musician got so drunk he fell into a garbage bin and couldn't get out.  No one could work out who he belonged to because he had no ID on him, so the Cops were called and he spent the night in the slammer. The next day we drove from Calgary, Canada to Washington State, USA.  This was probably the most beautiful part of the trip to date, driving through the Canadian Rockies.  Miles upon miles of lush pine forest and mountains.  You could see some devastation from the mountain pine beetle which has wiped out large portions of pine forest in Canada and the US due to Global Warming.  But I was happy to see lots of baby pine trees springing up everywhere.  We finished the weekend with the fabulous Mt Baker Blues Festival in Bellingham, Washington.  This was our second visit to this great festival.   I would have to say this was the best set of the summer.  The sound was superb, both onstage and front of house.  The hospitality was incredible, lots of smiling faces and the after party jam was brilliant.  Got to hang with my good buddy Scott Holt.

Since we were heading to Montana for the Magic City Blues Festival, we thought it would be fun to visit Yellowstone National Park.   We had one day to do it in and we were determined to see as much as possible.  For those who don't know much about Yellowstone, its renowned for its geysers. The wildlife is prevalent throughout the park.  But its the tourists that make you laugh the most.  We saw some Japanese tourists with their little kids jump right in front of a huge male buffalo with horns, like it was a dairy cow!  Its no wonder that park rangers are constantly on the prow looking for tourists doing stupid things.  We left through the North East entrance taking us to Billings, Montana.  We didn't realize that the road that we took, snaked its way right up to the top of Bear Tooth Pass, some 13000 feet high. We reached the summit right on sunset.  Absolutely breath taking views but one scary drive! In mid August- we had a set at the Magic City Blues Festival in Billings, Montana.  The Friday night show was held downtown in the street.  Some cool acts were performing - Johnny Lang and The London Souls.  We had a great spot just before Johnny Lang- so the crowd was large and into it. The next day I had to do three didgeridoo workshops at the other festival site.  I wasn't sure how they would go across but all three were really well attended.  My band "Midwest Kind" and I got to see Trombone Shorty perform- who put on a very solid set.  The whole band were very talented.  We also caught a few songs of Charlie Musslewhite and Ben Harper-.  22 hours and 46 minutes later, we made it back to Michigan for two whole days off then we were on the road again to New York for three shows. The private show at the Bathhouse in Rochester was a lot of fun!!  The next week, wow it was HOT- right up around 100 F.  We had a hot and sticky set at 8.30pm at the Old Capitol State Blues Festival in Springfield Illinois.  The band before us were soaked in sweat from head to foot.  It wasn't so bad for us, but it was muggy as hell.   Got to hang out with Victor Wainwright and his band. Then it was on to the Paola Roots Festival in Paola, Kansas.   We had a 5.50pm set and man its was sooo hot- 106 F but it had to be even hotter on stage especially with the stage lights on.   Thankfully it was only a 50 minute set.  But it was one of the hottest sets of music, in terms of temperature Ive ever performed. It was rough.  The sun was blaring right in my face.  I did my best, and so did my guys.  I had a killer head ache afterwards.  Thankfully the hospitality folks really looked after me and the band.  They even supplied me with some head ache tablets and let me keep the bottle.  The following week we headed to The Snowy Range Music Festival in Laramie, Wyoming.  I 'll give you a full report next month. We will be filming for WKAR Backstage Pass on Friday September 19 at the Old Town Bluesfest in Lansing, Michigan.  Come on down Michigandas and you might get your head on TV.  Hope to see you out on the road this summer and fall!

Thanks and Peace,

Harper and Midwest Kind (Official Harper Website) CDs, Tee Shirts    Australian Didge-ucation (for live video clips)