By Ken Wallis, Blues & Roots Radio
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“Blues is a tonic for whatever ails you. I could play the blues and then not be blue anymore.” B. B. King
Spotlight on Harpdog Brown
Harpdog Brown is an icon in the Canadian blues music community. The proof is in the pudding as he has won the Maple Blues Award for best harmonica player in Canada, three years in a row. And that is decided by a panel of 50 experts across the country. He’s also won The Fraser Valley Music Award; he’s a three-time Western Canadian Music Awards Nominee; a Juno Nominee; and the only Canadian to win the coveted Muddy Award.
Hailing from British Columbia, Harpdog has gathered a wide-spread audience of fans while performing since 1982. He’s toured Canada, the U.S. and Europe. I’ve been fortunate enough to see him perform on many occasions. As the host of a radio show, I’ve also had the chance to chat with him extensively about his music.
‘The Dog’ as he’s affectionally known as by his followers, features a unique sound. Sometimes called ‘old school’ harp, his music is a salute to some of the greats that have graced the stages of blues venues in the past.
His 5 cds have featured his distinctive harmonica playing and his powerful, smokey voice. It’s a mix of the early electrical blues that you could label as the traditional sound of Chess Records and Sun Records in Memphis. His music is top-notch and when he plays, you sit up and listen !
Harpdog has issued 5 CDs to critical acclaim. His first release in 1995, Home is Where The Harp Is, won the coveted Muddy Award for the Best North West Blues Release from the Cascade Blues Association in Portland.
He’s the only Canadian to win this coveted award and Home is Where the Harp Is also received a Juno Nomination for the best Blues Release in Canada.
His live cd, Once In A Howling Moon showcased his free wheelin’ bluesy sound and his career was just in the cusp of taking off.
Then Harpdog teamed up with Graham Guest on piano for his cd, Naturally and it was voted #1 Canadian Blues Album of 2011 by The Blind Lemon Survey.
In 2014 he released What It Is. It’s a masterpiece and surely staked out his 3 Maple Blues awards in a row as best harmonica player in Canada.
It is one dynamite cd featuring such great tunes as Doncha Knows I Love You, Big Rockin Daddy, If You Wanna Grow Old, No Money In the Till, Whiskey Bottle just to name a few.
And to prove his music isn’t solely classic blues, he takes on a modern topic with Facebook Woman.
And then it was on to Travelin’ With the Blues.
Featuring 14 dynamite tracks, this cd has clearly cemented his rise in status in the blues world and has established him as one of Canada’s best. He even keeps it coming with the follow up Facebook Mama. Charlie Musselwhite, who guested on the cd says "Harpdog's got a smokin' band playing and he's singing the real deal, old school blues just like you want to hear it.”
Check out the tunes on Cd Baby or got to his home page
You can even join his fan club, The Doghouse. Harpdog’s been doing a lot with his Travellin With the Blues gang, and here’s the classic Boom Boom
You can check where in Canada he’ll be performing next by gong to
Harpdog’s next cd is coming in the new year and it’ll strike out in a new direction. He’ll explore the classics of old school jazz and big band blues with a lineup of younger jazz musicians and seasoned blues veterans. I know with Harpdog’s talent and determination this will be a cd worthy of support.
Like all blues fans, I anxiously await his new release.
I don’t believe a blogger should rant, so let’s not call this a rant. Let’s call it a somewhat rambling something-or-other.
I love going to live music events – whether in a bar, a concert hall or an outdoor location. Like many others, the purpose of attending a music event is to hear live music and see the performer entertain.
Recently I attended a Joe Bonamassa concert. Now having seen Joe B. several times, I know he believes in punctuality. When he says his show starts at 8:00, he means 8:00 sharp. It was even printed on the tickets show at 8:00 sharp.
So why is a good proportion of the audience not in their seats before 8:00? Why miss a minute of a good concert? At $150 a seat, my wife and I were there a half hour in advance. Well Joe takes the stage; the lights dim and guess what? A ton of folks start arriving. Flashlights flickering in the dark. People standing up to let attendees make their way down the rows to their seats. The first 10 minutes of the show was a total distraction. Finally, it slowed down to a trickle but what happens next?
Phone cameras light up the audience. Folks are recording the event. They’re live streaming it on facebook. Good grief, if you want to see a recorded video, go buy a dvd and let the rest of the blues world enjoy the live performance. And then to top it all off, the guy beside me pulls his phone out of his pocket every couple of minutes to check his twitter, facebook and whatever else seemed to amuse him. I wonder if he even knew there was a live performer on the stage. And I won’t even mention the folks behind us who spent most of the show talking loudly about everything except music.
Many venues will not allow late comers to come in until there is a break. I wish more would do so.
Please let’s respect the performers as well as our fellow blues fans.
New Cds Coming
Next week we’ll highlight some of the new releases that will be coming out in the next few months. Till then, keep your eyes glued to the blues!