Ten Shots with Erin Harpe and Gracie Curran

By Georgetown Fats
January 2013

Whether they are gracing the stage of televised network musical competitions or featured interviews by international blues magazines, it is clear that Boston has a wealth of female blues talent. In honor of Boston’s Blues Women, this month’s Ten Shots feature is with Erin Harpe and Gracie Curran, two blues front women representing the Boston Blues Society at the 2013 International Blues Challenge this winter.

Georgetown Fats - Outside of the trip down to Memphis for the International Blues Challenge in February of 2013 where you will both represent the Boston Blues Society, what do you both have going on musically right now?

Gracie Curran - A lot! We're busy little bees! Winning the Challenge was the cherry on top of a really great year for us. We've been working really hard, finishing up our first album and have been playing a lot, traveling more and more. The album should be done before the year's over, so to be able to go to Memphis and share new music on such a grand scale is really exciting. The very spirit of the IBC is all about bringing attention to great blues bands that you just may never have heard of before ... Lots of people have never heard of us, so we're looking forward to exposing ourselves ... musically speaking, of course.

Erin Harpe – Touring, touring, touring, with The Delta Swingers and with Lovewhip. A very busy summer has transitioned into a very busy fall and now it's winter (snow on the gound, what?!). We're also working on The Delta Swingers album still, and it's starting to come together, but we decided to write a few new tunes for it so it probably won't be finished in time for the IBC. We want it to be really great, so we're taking our time. Lovewhip is also going to be coming out with a new EP soon too.

Georgetown Fats - With contemporary blues being mostly a boys club, how do you both manage to make a mark within the local and national community without getting that pesky testosterone on you?

Erin Harpe - I just try to take a cue from my female mentors or idols in the blues, starting with Memphis Minnie and Bessie Smith who didn't take no shit! They were way ahead of their time and they made it, and so can we! And of course Bonnie Raitt was a huge influence, just like Memphis Minnie playing guitar as well as the guys, and making them stand back and say "yeah".

Gracie Curran - I carry a taser on me at all times, ya know just in case ... but generally, the guys are pretty great! I feel like I have a lot of "big brothers!"! They look out for me, ya know, give me advice, tell me about great music I should listen to, give my boyfriend a hard time ...

Also I find that cleavage, whiskey and good music goes a long way with the male population ;)

Georgetown Fats - Are there any pre-game/pre-show rituals you would care to share with us?

Erin Harpe - Take a deep breath, group hug, ready, set, go!

Gracie Curran - My answers my vary depending on what state I'm in ...

Georgetown Fats - As the front people for four bands between you both (Erin Harpe also fronts LOVEWHIP while Gracie Curran is the front woman for HANDSOME WIFE), how do you both manage to find the time for business responsibilities while also handling musical responsibilities?

Gracie Curran - See (my) previous answer.

Erin Harpe - It is hard to find a balance. I do all of the promo, graphic design work and website, and Jim does the rest - booking (working with our booking agent too) and management responsibilities. We share the social media stuff. Business responsibilities often take up too much time and we're looking for a way to hire a team, but need to make more money first! Or get a job, but there's really not time. Both bands are super busy playing gigs, this week for instance I have 4 gigs(!), including a bi-weekly solo gig I play in Worcester. Most evenings that aren't gig nights are rehearsal nights or recording.

Georgetown Fats - Other than bringing home the trophies at the IBC, the gluttonous pig-outs at Rendezvous, and the always-inspiring trip to the Civil Rights Museum, what else are you both looking forward to for your trips down to Memphis?

Erin - Last time we went to the STAX and SUN Studio tours, which were great! Do them Gracie! I was kind of fuzzy headed and sick with a cold last time, so maybe we'll do them again. I WISH we could record at Sun, but probably no time for that this trip. I'm going to the Peabody Hotel for expensive drinks (just watch out for the cleavage upsell, it caught us off-guard last time and drinks were like $20 each or something) to watch the ducks that swim in the indoor fountain. I'm especially looking forward to seeing a bunch of blues!!!

Gracie - The thing I am looking forward to most is the definitely the hang and soundtrack to it! We have a really great crew of people coming down from Boston. We'll get to see a lot of musician friends from all over the country that come down to enjoy the festivities. Lots of good music! To be able to experience Memphis during the IBC, and then to have so many friends there - that just makes the experience even sweeter. Going with Erin and Rosy is especially great! (Rosy is currently producing our album with us!) Phil Pemberton and some of the Roomful guys, Scissormen, The Polecats perhaps ... all really great people, all of whom are a lot of fun! It will be a gang of us rolling into town - Boston will certainly be well represented. I'm a little nervous actually ... can you legitimately have too much fun? (Hopefully our fundraisers will cover bail ... I'm just hoping I can keep up!)

Georgetown Fats - Will there be any busking in Memphis? I may know a place where you could both warm up with some inspirational busking if you’re interested ...

Gracie - I imagine that there will be some of that ... and I'm always down for some inspiration...

Erin - Possibly, but it would have to be a lot warmer than last time (it was down in the 20's and 30's, brrrr!). I would love to hear your recommendations where to busk, I've been a big busker here in Boston over the years, playing in the subway.

Georgetown Fats - Yes, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital ... it is hard not to be inspired when walking through those hallowed halls while also having a grounding experience when seeing those little knee biters smile and wave to you while getting their treatments ... we’ll talk.

Georgetown Fats - With the both of you keeping aggressive booking schedules, how do you keep the stage show fresh?

Erin - I feel like the show is always fresh because the audience is always different. There's always someone new who hasn't heard you, or the best – fans that sing along to your songs! When I have time I add new covers, or new originals, that's the best way, but keep in mind your fans like to hear songs they know, aka your "hits," as well as your take on covers.

Gracie - We spent a lot of time writing and driving around listening to music over the summer. We have a lot of seeds planted for the next album even – so, with so much new music pouring out of us, we've been incorporating more and more original music into the set list. And we cover whatever music me and the guys happen to be diggin' on at the time ...

Georgetown Fats – Erin, with this being your second trip down to Memphis on behalf of the Boston Blues Society at the International Blues Society Challenge, would you care to share any tips with Gracie?

Erin - Sure I have tips! I would say take it easy the first few nights. It's so exciting just to be in Memphis, Home of the Blues! Last time I stayed up super late having fun, drinking, just tearing it up in Memphis, and ended up catching a bad cold and being sick during the semi-finals, which was no fun and didn't help our performance! I'd also say don't worry so much about the "competition" part of it, just have fun and see as many bands as you can, it's unbelievable how many amazing blues bands from around the world are playing on Beale Street during the IBC. Make friends with them! But get some sleep too! :)

Georgetown Fats – Gracie, will your first full length release with The High Falutin’ Band drop before the IBC?

Gracie - We're almost done! Bruce Bears just recorded the Hammond B3 parts and it’s pretty sick sounding so far. We're almost there. It’s a mix of traditional blues and soul - with some gospel feel. We've been playing the album live over the past few months and have gotten a really good response from audiences - I think it’s a good representation of us ... I'm so excited to hear the finished product and share it with everyone!

Georgetown Fats - So will you visit Graceland or not?

Gracie - you know what they say, "when in Rome!"

Erin Harpe - Didn't last time, so it's on my list this time around. Gotta do it once.

If you would like to keep track of these two up-coming stars check out their links

www.thehighfalutinband.com

www.erinharpe.com

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