Sunday, September 09, 2012

James Harman in a Lonesome Moon Trance

James Harman has been laying his blues harmonica and vocals for several decades. He has stayed true to the blues tradition while as I note in the following review, telling his own story. This review appeared originally in the December2003-January 2004 D.C. Blues Calendar, then the newsletter of the Dc Blues Society. I do not recall if I received a review copy of this or purchased it.

Photo © Ron Weinstock
In his liner notes to his latest release, Lonesome Moon Trance (Pacific Blues), James Harman notes how he has been going through changes in recent years and how he has a bunch of stories to tell which we are fortunate enough to hear now. Harman has brought together some terrific musicians to help out on this including Kid Ramos, Kirk Fletcher, Bob Margolin, Junior Watson, Carl Sonny Leyland, and Gene Taylor on the twelve tracks. 

Performances like Piecework Politicians with its witty suggestions that politicians get paid for the benefits they give the citizens or My Secret Escapade with its atmospheric use of the Bo Diddley groove. Harmon’s superb Little Walter-styled harp graces several tracks including Double Hogback Growler, while on his Miss Bessie Mae Blues, his playing is more in the Sonny Boy Williamson II vein. This is not to suggest he is a copyist, but rather simply to suggest the general flavor of his playing. It should be noted that he certainly appears to have tried to capture the feel and flavor of the classic Chicago blues of the fifties while telling his own stories. 

Harman’s playing, vocals and songs stand up on their own and are well worth hearing. This is a typically excellent recording by Icepick James who has never disappointed this listener with his music. If you have trouble locating this in stores, you can try 

Here is James in performance at the Wilmington DE Riverfront Blues Festival. Nathan james is the guitarist.

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