Who are the Erin Harpe & Delta Swingers? Three months after the bands first rehearsal, the band won the Boston Blues Challenge and was immediately thrust into the spotlight.
Harpe grew up surrounded by delta blues in her childhood home in Maryland so you could say, it's in her blood. Her dad, Neil Harpe, played every morning and had pickin’ parties with his friends in the evenings and on weekends.
In her teens, Harpe picked up a guitar and quickly learned how to finger-pick classic 1930’s delta blues songs by everyone from Tommy Johnson, Memphis Minnie and Mississippi John Hurt.
Fast forward to 2010, now living in Boston, Massachusetts: after a successful trip to South by Southwest, Harpe decided it was time to start a delta blues band. Along with her husband, bass player Jim Countryman and their longtime friend, singing drummer Bob Nisi, all they needed was an amazing soloist.
Around the same time Richard “Rosy” Rosenblatt, a great harmonica player who’d been hiding behind a desk as a record label exec for years, began stalking Erin, coming out to some of her solo shows. A band was born!
Examiner spoke with Harpe after the bands performance at the 2013 Rock and Soul Holiday Show on Sunday, December 15, at the Regent Theatre in Arlington., Massachusetts.
Examiner: So I see you like to dance to your own music?
Harpe: "Yes, I do. By the time we realized that we were ready to go to Memphis for the International Blues Challenge, we had played enough gigs and saw that our audience was always up dancing. So sometimes I'll put down my guitar and do some booty shakin."
Examiner: There has to be a story in there about your dancing?
Harpe: "A defining moment came during our Memphis trip. We were invited to play a few songs at Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin’s blues jam at the Rum Boogie on Beale Street. I put down my acoustic guitar and ended up kicking it over when I was dancing. When I picked it up, the neck was snapped! The song was already in progress, and Bob Margolin came running to the rescue, helping her to strap on his Gibson Les Paul, and the band realized that the electric guitar would be part of our sound. Since then, we’ve played many shows all around the Eastern US and have written our own original songs, garnering praise from fans and press alike, and winning the 2013 Boston Music Award for “Blues Artist of the Year."
Examiner: Tell us about your debut album?
Harpe: "The album will feature ten songs showcasing the “Charles River Delta Blues”, marrying delta blues with soul, pop, country and even reggae. The new album reflects Erin Harpe & the Delta Swingers’ fully realized sound, and we’re ready to share it with the world!"
Examiner: I understand that you are self producing this album?
Harpe: "We are an independent band which is a lot of work. It means that we do everything on our own. We have done most of the album ourselves. We started out self-producing the album, writing, recording, and doing all of the pre-production of the songs. We’re so excited at how the tracks are turning out that we’ve decided to team up with producer Dave Gross from Fat Rabbit Studios to help us with the finishing touches and the final mixes, because we want to make sure this album is able to stand up sonically to our favorite blues and roots albums."
Examiner: Upcoming gigs?
Harpe: "We're at the Bull Run in Shirley, Massachusetts on Saturday December 21, 2013. You can check our website for upcoming shows."