Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page

Chris HarperAt the age of 12, Chris Harper bought his first blues harp. He had always been fascinated by the sound of the harmonica, so he was thrilled to try to play it. At first, he had to endure some harsh criticism from his friends: "Give it a rest; you'll never learn to play it." However, he didn't let them discourage him and as time passed, the feedback got better-in any event, he never lost his desire to master the blues harp.

At 13, Chris started playing the bass, while continuing to play the blues harp as a second instrument. In the years that followed, he played the bass in various hard rock, jazz rock and Dixie jazz groups, including the Finest Session Band and the Tom Kelly Band.

From 1985, all his energies were consumed establishing his business, leaving him little time to pursue his musical activities, although he did make special guest appearances and jam occasionally on the harmonica with groups such as the CBB Heartrock Band.

In 2001, Harper enjoyed a cautious comeback on harmonica, initially guesting with the former Black'n Blue blues band. He then really got back into his stride, appearing on a live recording for Black 'n Blue with Aron Burton, the world-famous blues vocalist and bassist from Chicago.

By mid-2002, it was back to the blues harmonica. During trips to Chicago, the very heart of the blues, he jammed with J.W. Williams, Sugar Blue, Melvin Taylor, Charly Love, Billy Branch, Jimmy Pryor, Jimmy Burns, Pistole Pete, Chainsaw Dupont, Two for the Blues and lots of Chicago's other well-known blues performers in the city's best clubs.Sugar Blue

In 2003, he switched from the lip technique to the tongue block technique, taught by Sugar Blue, who had spent years learning about the blues and Harp techniques from the veteran blues man Big Walter Horton in Chicago. Sugar Blue had played with all the well-known blues musicians in Chicago and the world, toured for over a year with the Rolling Stones, and six months with Prince. Using his stile of tongue block technique, he's the fastest tongue block harmonica player in the world. When Chris Harper stands on stage, he often thinks how much he owns Sugar Blue. Articulating this debt, he says "Blue, thanks for everything that you have taught me about the blues and stile of tongue block technique."

In 2004, Harper met the Italian Sharade Band in Zurich. Harper and the band had compatible musical styles and got along well together. They enjoyed playing together right from the start. Their jams are like musical fireworks, sometimes soft before exploding back into an outpouring of blues energy. Their collaboration intensified after a festival organizer discovered them at a blues jam and signed them up for the Flims Blues Festival. They will be recording their first CD in Autumn 2005.

Chris Harper loves the blues in all its forms, whether it be traditional or blended with elements of funk, jazz, rock and Latin. He is currently playing in various groups; apart from the Sharade Band, he is most notably performing with Larry's Blues Band with Larry Schmucky (Switzerland), who have been drawing in the crowds for decades.

With considerable experience behind him, Chris is getting back into the scene at a slightly older age. He's in good company with other well-known, successful musicians and blues men. His love of the blues, his pronounced feeling, and his talent for sound and virtuosity on the harmonica make him a unique musician who has lots to offer.