WRITING BY JOHNNY HARPER

Musical roots…

Updated: May 12, 2021

(from the album notes of Light of a New Day)


The earliest music I remember hearing was the folk songs my father, Art Lumsdaine, sang and played at home, just for the love of it, for himself, his family, and his friends. My parents told me later that I was actually learning and singing these songs at the age of two! A lot of them were great traditional folk ballads which I still sing today. Years later, when I was 17, Art taught me my first few guitar chords, and I was gone! – hopelessly in love with the sensuous joy and emotional release of playing and singing.


Beyond those first chords I learned from Dad, I am essentially “self-taught” as a musician. I never took lessons or studied music from books. I learned everything I know from the musicians I met and played with, and from studying on my own, immersing myself in a wide range of American music styles, and trying to figure out how to play what I heard. I think of my teachers as everyone whose music I’ve learned from, everyone I’ve been inspired by.


Among my many influences, I give special thanks and praise to the rhythm & blues music of New Orleans, ca. 1947 to the present. My bands over the years have all featured a lot of this material, this intoxicating gumbo of overlapping styles. I visited New Orleans many times and later lived there for a while, soaking up more of the special magic of the city. You can hear its presence in this album, and its spirit in so much of what I write, play and sing.


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