So who could fathom a blues band with a didgeridoo as one of the main instruments?
Peter B. Harper, for whom the band is named, grew up in Australia (although he has relocated to Michigan) and that makes it less of a stretch (and a novelty for the rest of the blues world). But his use of the strange-sounding wooden wind instrument, developed 1,500 years ago by the indigenous people of Northern Australia, has great meaning to Harper.
He told Blueswax ezine in a recent interview about an encounter with Australian Aborigines as a teenager. Harper was stranded with his father when some nomadic Aborigines were walking along, saw that the two needed help, and fed them. Harper believes he may have starved to death if they had not come along.
The “didge” is featured on about half of the 12 original songs on this creative disc that combines blues with rock, soul and world beats. It’s Harper's third Blind Pig CD.
While the didgeridoo bit works fairly well, his harp playing and his way with rhythm is the real draw. Actually, Harper was a harp player (no pun intended) before he took up didgeridoo because his original didge player left after his first year in the U.S.
Both instruments appear on the first track “I Never Want” which has some tree-hugging lyrics about Mother Earth intermingled with snappy riffs. The didge takes center stage on “You Know What You Got” a funky soul number.
The theme of the record hits us in “We Stand Together,” another commentary on society with a refrain of “I can’t believe you don’t understand / We’re all united with the dust and sand (note Australian imagery) / You’re gonna take me, it’s not my choice / We stand together as one great voice.”
The fourth track, “Peace=Love=Freedom” is a hit on blues radio stations, but is more soul than real blues. There are several other songs on the disc that showcase Harper’s fine blues harp skills, especially the last track, “Damn Shame.”
The disk marks the first time Harper has recorded a CD using his Michigan-based touring band, Midwest Kind, with Harper also playing keyboards; Gregg Leonard on guitar, Chris Du Ross on acoustic guitar, Chris Wiley Smith on bass, Marc Dixon on drums and percussion and Kurt Wolak on Hammond organ, Wurlitzer and grand piano.
Check this out for something a little different.