26 April 2021

Another side of J.P. Harris

In the last week of May 2015 J.P. Harris & the Tough Choices (USA) toured in Ireland, playing seven dates with their tough honky-tonk country sound, and winding up the tour at the Red Room, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone. An image of J.P. is still at the head of the Red Room's Facebook page.

Before the tour, the BIB remarked: 'With steel guitar and fiddle to the fore [...], J.P. Harris's world is one in which the 'Murder on Music Row' of Larry Cordle's song has not been committed.' The BIB also noted that the photo then at the head of his website included an open-back 5-string with what looked like at least a 12" pot.

Now, in 2021, thanks to Hearth Music for the news that Harris will release on 25 June Don't you marry no railroad man, a ten-track album of old-time songs with banjo and fiddle, under the name 'JP Harris' Dreadful Wind & Rain', comprising J.P. and his old friend Chance McCoy (Old Crow Medicine Show), who in 2019 also toured here and played the Red Room.

A video of the first single from the album, 'Closer to the mill (Going to California)', is on YouTube. Their source for the tune was Reed Martin's 'Off to California' (see YouTube). J.P. made the fretless banjo he plays here, and he has a powerful and dynamic style. Hearth Music refer to his 'detuned banjo', but don't worry - they only mean that it's tuned below normal pitch, giving a strong, clear, rumbling sound. The album, in either CD or LP format, can be pre-ordered here for $15.

© Richard Hawkins

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