Harp Dog Brown is Vancouver’s most prominent blues harmonica player. He is currently touring Ontario and is having a party in Toronto in early November to release his latest CD.
Harpdog’s latest album titled “What It Is” was released in March and has received critical acclaim. The album includes 14 tracks, 10 originals and four classic covers, which feature Brown and The Harpdog Brown Band. This video of the song “Whisky Bottle” was recorded at the Vancouver Fanclub on June 13, 2014. If you listen closely it seems to clearly reflect the style of Little Walter’s song “My Babe” .
The band, which plays traditional Chicago blues, consists of drums player John R. Hunter, guitarist Jordan Edmonds and bass player George Fenn. The newest member is the 29-year-old Edmonds, who often plays with Brown as two-man duo.
The main influences on Harpdog’s unique style are Chicago Blues musicians who released records on the Chess Record label in the 1950’s, which include Little Walter, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller). As a result, the covers on the album include Little Walter’s “Blue Lights” and Sonny Boy Williamson’s “In My Younger Day.” The following song is called “No Money in the Till”.
Harpdog’s cd “Naturally” was voted #1 Canadian Blues Album of 2010 by The Blind Lemon Survey. His album “Home is Where The Harp Is” won the coveted Muddy Award for the best NW Blues Release in 1995, from the Cascade Blues Association in Portland. He was eligible for the award because the album was recorded in the U.S. He was also nominated for a Juno for the best Blues Release of the year in Canada in the same year.
Harpdog was born in Edmonton, Alberta but he is currently based out of Vancouver. He was first inspired to start playing the harmonica at the age of 17, when he saw James Cotton play at the University of Alberta in 1979. He got his start in Vancouver’s blues scene in 1988 playing the role of Elwood Blues in a Blues Brothers Tribute band, which gave him his debut gig at the Commodore Ballroom.
Brown received his nick name in 1989 while playing with friends in a bar called Mama Golds near Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver. While setting up between the first and second set, two well-dressed young men decided they really liked Brown and started to buy him drinks. By the third set, they started buying drinks for the band. At the end of the night, the young men started chanting “Harpdog! Harpdog!” He named the band the Harpdog Brown & The Bloodhounds in March of 1990.
Harpdog has been touring Ontario during the month of October and had several CD release parties for his new album “What it is”. He will have the next release party in Toronto at The Monarch’s Pub on Nov. 6. For this show, Harpdog is teaming up with bassist Gary Kendall and drummer Mike Fitzpatrick.