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JAMES HARMAN (1946.06.08/Anniston, AL – ) is one of the leading harmonica players on America’s west coast. Harman’s love of the instrument was instilled in him by his father. His father’s Hohner harmonicas were in the piano bench, and he would play them after his piano lessons. He experimented with other instruments as well, including guitar, organ, bass and drums, performing solo and with family members at dances and country suppers. He found the blues early in life, both on black radio and on the street corner: “Radio” Johnson, a local blind street singer who played slide guitar with a knife, was an early influence and collaborator.

As a youngster in Alabama, James played with a local blues musician named Radio Johnson, and bought R&B records. By the age of 16 he had launched his own band and subsequently recorded a number of singles and albums with various ensembles, including Soul Senders, Snakedoctor, King James And The Royals, the Icehouse Blues Band and Icepick James And The Rattlesnakes. In 1970 Harman moved to southern California and had to abandon music for some years due to health problems. He did not refrain from playing music for long, and in the late 70s he formed the James Harman Band, going on to make acclaimed recordings for the Rivera and Rhino labels before graduating to Black Top Records at the start of the 90s. He recorded some of his best studio work for this label, including 1991’s Do Not Disturb and 1995’s Black & White. Later recordings have appeared on the Cannonball and Pacific Blue labels. Harman, who by the start of the new millennium resembled Gandalf (from Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings) with his extraordinary white beard, is an imposing sight to watch perform. He is a fine singer and harmonica player whose approach to the blues is one of fun and enjoyment.