Available Now For download or to buy
Twelve new tracks
His first solo disc in six years
Features Tom Staley on drums
01 Mean Meat In Me (Harper-Staley) 5:26
songs by Rick Harper except as indicated
So, what about an update. It's been about six or seven years...
Yeah, almost a decade.
Well, it's been mainly music. In 2002 I was trying to write, promote, and perform
my own music. I was getting airplay on WFPK, the local NPR station, and some others round the world, and was also playing bass and singing harmony with Tim Krekel. Finally got to make the record we'd always wanted to make with Dusty, really. Dusty was our band from Louisville, late 60s. Never got to make a good album. So in 2001 Tim wanted an aggressive bassist who could travel so I thought we'd try and do it one more time. The record was Happy Town, and was out on 2 or 3 labels but it got little support. 9/11 happened. It's a really good record but I know Tim and I weren't satisfied w/ the final mix. Few people know Tim's work as well as I do. He was the greatest guitarist in the world to me—only Richard Thompson can touch him. I expected to make alot more music with Tim. I miss him like nobody's business.
Anyway, I played bass with Blake Stamper for awhile, did a tour in Texas. A highlight in Dallas was I got a jay-walking ticket for walking across the railroad tracks at Dealy Plaza, where JFK was shot. ThenTim died, and so did Steve Ferguson, another great guitarist friend. They took a lot of my impetus with them.I think the last gig I played on bass was with The Cumberlands in '08, which was taped. They're always running that show on PBS. Wasn't fun playing bass any more.You get tired of anything after 35 years. Did a couple CD projects with my friend Tom Staley as Thenceforward. Most reviewers didn't understand them, said they sounded like demos. So what? Jeff Tamarkin was the only journalist who seemed to understand what we were doing. Got a Pro Tools recording system and learned to use it. Did other projects with Erich Overhultz in Florida and Alan Leatherwood in Cleveland. Did a campaign song for one of the Presidential candidates which was heard by millions and millions online.Was working on my next CD, called Lion's Roar, when...
"I have seen the Grim Reaper, and it is an idiot on a forklift."
Whilst working a stop-gap no brainer dayjob: I was badly injured in an accident, right ankle was crushed. A kook dropped a damaged security fence on me with a forklift. Then: surgery, rehab, blinding pain, surgery, rehab, lawsuits, appeals, surgery, rehab, melancholia and financial logistics nightmares. Life, interrupted.The firm pleaded guilty to making me disabled, which was a ruse to get round certain issues re: "safety violations". I have a neurological condition called RSD/CRPS. Basically that means I have good days, I have bad days re: walking, driving. Forever. It's been almost four years dealing with that, taking up most of my time. I pulled Lion's Roar from release and cancelled it – though I think it's a good record. I'd gotten a great Mellotron plug in and perhaps I got a little too Moody Blued with experimental sounds, but I'd always wanted to make a record like that, so I did. Little did I know nobody would much like it. Uh.... they can go eat a bug, if you know what I mean .Let 'em listen to Klassic Schlock or Lady HooHah. I'd never experienced that much apathy of my work. Karma will prevail.
Now I’ve finished some new songs and issued Turn It Down, Richard Lee in April, 2012. The title is what my mother was constantly saying to me when I was a kid, just learning oboe or bass, whatever it was. It's available as a download here, and as a physical disc you can hold in your hands if you're so inclined. The physical disc has 2 extra tracks not on the download version.
I think it's one of my best. Got some great players on it: Tom Staley on drums, Erich Overhultz on Piano, Dana Barbu, who I met on a cruise liner decades ago, plays piano and keyboards and sings on a track or two. Her parts were recorded by her husband in Romania at their home studio, and that's pretty cool I think. Three of the songs are co-writes with Tom. I'm back on track, feeling ok, wanting to play again, get the creations out to the world at large, if anyone's open minded enough to listen. I like it, so there'll be some others who will, too. Probably in Europe. Or on some other planet. Hey, I even made my acting debut recently in a movie trailer competition...
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Breathers' Magic City Music: Ft. Lauderdale 1981-1986
All the singles and e.p.s plus unreleased tracks 1981-1986!
18 Tracks, nearly 70 minutes of Magic City Music from this critically acclaimed, nearly unknown Ft. Lauderdale group finally on CD! Features Rick Harper, Tom Staley, Erich Overhultz, Bob Zohn, Steve Ferguson, Hoze Fleming, Bill Lloyd and more...
Please go to the How To Order Page for more information
"...THE ARRANGEMENTS AND HANDLING OF THE INSTRUMENTS, AND THE MELODIES OF THE SONGS ARE RATHER MINDBLOWING"
- The Fortnightly College Radio Report
Louisville's DIY King Returns
Scotch Irish Bastard (HiVariety)
By Tim Roberts
He's everything a garage band wants to be: low-fi and skilled with a small mixing board. The difference? He can write and sing and play a variety of instruments and mix them all by himself (with a touch of help from some other local talent) and still sound like hes using a full band. He turns the guerilla tactics of the do-it-yourselfer recording artist into a clean, complete sound, much like what Bruce Springsteen did with Nebraska but without the wailing and the references to Charles Starkweather and heartbroken state police dispatchers.
So five years after his last DIY effort, H00T, and seven years following the career retrospective Rickenharper; Louisville's Rick Harper has returned with the home-brewed Scotch Irish Bastard. And in it, all the trademarks that worked for him as a DIY master in his previous two releases are there: the overdubs of his voice doing harmonies, the well-blended instrumentation of bass, guitar, harmonica and organ, songs that range from an exploration of the dreariness of a late-winter day in Louisville to self-assertion and hope, the honesty and simplicity of the songs and pop hooks that come straight from the Beatles '65 textbook.
That kind of refreshing pop blast greets us in the opening track, "My Dream Last Night," about the yin of everyday despondency and annoyances and the yang of a perfect, selfless world in dreams. But the pop vibe plummets with the next track, "A So What Day," which perfectly depicts a wintry day in the city- sporadic light snow being buffeted by a cold wind, bad coffee, loneliness - only to return with "Loans and Favors," Harpers starving artist mini-biography containing the CDs title in the chorus, "Cos I'm a Scotch Irish Bastard / Of Scotch Irish Bastards / Got to take care of myself'' " Self-preservation never sounded so defiantly positive.
Theres more clean pop with "More that Beautiful," co-written and performed with Tim Krekel and "Aint Foldin Up for You." Both of those tracks lead into a triptych of love-gone-wrong songs: "All the Time," about a former lover dead more than two decades, "Cut and Run," (co-written with Northern Kentuckys Niki Buehrig) about escaping a co-dependent relationship and the attempt to squeeze out a sour relationship in "Dont Want to Remember At All." Hearts dont just break in Harpers world - they auger in at full speed.
Heartbreak aside, Rick Harpers music tells the story of a man with experience in both music and life, with four decades of one and five decades of another behind him. He has shared that with us in the best way he knows how a triad of self-recorded, performed and -produced releases. Keeping his art self-made doesnt mean that Harper hasnt grown as a musician (anybody who has played as long and as with many people as Harper has doesnt need to grow anymore). It just means that Harper knows what works for him.
-Louisville Music News 3/04
'Scotch Irish Bastard'
Rick Harper comes armed with a guitar case full of George Harrison licks and isn't afraid to use them. Few songs pass without a Beatles echo bouncing off the bridge or chorus, but Harper makes them work through sheer will and a knack for hooks. Like all his records, "Scotch Irish Bastard" was mostly played, sung and recorded at home by Harper, which you sense even before you check the liner notes; there's a feeling of lonliness and isolation throughout. These songs aren't about those moments when it all falls apart, but the lingering aftermath.
- Jeffrey Lee Puckett, The Courier-Journal 10 April, '04
Rick Harper Scotch Irish Bastard
There is a phenomenon in music where occasionally the greatest talent goes underappreciated by a wide audience until the artist is either infirm or long dead. Take Townes Van Zandt, for example.
Rick Harper has maintained a semi - reclusive posture for much of his musical carreer, surfacing every few years with a notable recording, then dropping from view. A bit like Tony Joe White, who records and occasionally performs, but cherishes his privacy. After decades of playing as a side man, in 1997 Harper released his Rickenharper CD which made him, if not a cult figure, certainly positioned on the map as a singer - songwriter. The sound was pure pop and critics and select radio stations ate it up like diabetics on a Klondike binge.
HOOT, released in 1999, signaled a change in the weather. There were a couple of love - happy romps, most notably "The Light Of Love". But the recording as a whole had an edgier, more tightly-wound feel to it, with clouds visible on the blue horizon. Shortly after its release, Harper left Louisville for the hills of west North Carolina, near Asheville, and his songs evaporated from Public Radio playlists. During this time he spent nearly three years playing with Louisville's Tim Krekel and was bassist and harmony singer on Krekel's Happy Town CD. He also appeared on ex-NRBQ drummer Tom Staley's CD, I've Always Known, and still does freelance graphic design work.
The new CD, Scotch Irish Bastard, is a qualitative change from his earlier work. It opens with "My Dream Last Night," a gritty, teeth-clenched rocker where the singer "...don't go out for fear I might blow away." By the time the chorus comes around ("...but in my dream last night / everything was warm and bright...as we held us in our arms") you can be sure this is a tougher, hipper Rick Harper at work, one who could handle eight rounds with the late Warren Zevon.
The following ten songs hang together like a tapestry. "A So What Day" describes a February day near Frankfort Avenue, listening to WFPK, watching snowflakes fall, missing his lady and wondering about the next gig. It features a perfect, spare guitar solo by Charlie Carmon. Other notable songs include "Loans And Favors," with imagery that would be at home in a particularly dastardly J. P. Donleavy novel, and "Don't Want To Remember At All," the latter's wounded narrator wonders "Why must I remember photographically / Silhouettes in the night and neither one of them me." "More Than Beautiful," co-written with Tim Krekel, would in a perfect world be the summer car song of 2004.
Scotch Irish Bastard is an extraordinary album, and categorically the best work Rick Harper has done. Much of it is dark, but with a strong undercurrent of hope. It's easy to put this CD on and get lost in its sad, defiant beauty.
-Robert L. Penick, Chance Magazine
"...depending on your point of view, this disc is either Rickenharper Vol. II or a compilation of the tracks off the cassette albums that weren't on Rickenharper"
the strange case of Rick Harper. Songwriting savant and sideman extraordinaire.In America his own music has made large ripples among critics but little impact among the record-buying public. While songs like I Know What It Is and Girl In The Nuthouse are played extensively on the radio in such far-flung locales as New Zealand, Sweden, France and Finland, here, only the most hip indy stations will play him, such as KKUP in Capertino, California, and his hometown's WFPK.
Given the lop-sided division of public acceptance, it shouldn't be unexpected that when a bootleg CD of Harper alternate takes appeared in 2000,the country of origin was Holland. Locales such as Helsinki or Auckland might have been more likely, but Rick Harper is a man honored in most every country but his own.
Titled Boot as a play on the previous year's release HOOT, it contained demo tracks, outtakes and varying versions of renowned Harper songs such as Ca$h Poor, and the legendary, never-released-on-CD Took A Wrong Turn. Although little money could have been made from the release of of this disc, Harper the perfectionist was irked by the poor quality of the reproduction. Apparently transferred from cassette tape, "I sent lots of promo cassettes to Europe through the years..." many of the tracks were out of phase and there were myriad technical problems that made the artist apoplectic.Taking it upon himself,Rick compiled his own "bootleg album",containing all the songs from the Dutch release, and added a few more, all from the original mix down master DAT tapes. The result is this CD,Bsides And Worse. Twenty-six tracks of the best music never to make it onto a record. This disc is available only from this website.
N. Carolina, 2001
Recording "Goldfinger" Ft. Lauderdale, May, 1994
Copyright 2004 Rick Harper/HVGraf