On September 6th, 2012 I had the great pleasure of listening the wonderful wooden blues of Mr. Benjamin Chase Harper played on his tone-a-licious Weissenborn guitar at the nearly-as-wonderful Ottawa Folk Festival, which was once again taking place in a beautiful chunk of Hog’s Back Park.
The surroundings were gold, the weather was mint, and Ben was soulful, honest, brilliant, and awesome. When he plays Ben Harper glows like an ember; he’s emits warmth and beauty and he holds your attention with a subtle fascination. He can scream protest in a breathless whisper and plead for justice with a flick of his guitar slide.
He even included a version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in his set.
(By the way, if you don’t know Ben Harper you probably should take an hour and listen to his Fight For Your Mind album. And if you do, let me know if you agree that he sounds like an acoustic Lenny Kravitz that is loaded with soul, not that Lenny Kravitz ain’t got soul. Come to think of it, that’s probably a bad analogy…I’m guessing that most people who can picture a Lenny Kravitz song in their head can also conjure up a Ben Harper song or two.
So I digress.)
Before Harper’s headlining set I had the even greater pleasure of playing the free (and tiny) sidestage accompanying a singer/songwriter/recording artist named Missy Burgess. I wouldn’t claim that playing a gig is across-the-board better than watching a gig, but when it came to playing with Missy I would. She was a rudimentary guitar player about ten years my senior with a fabulous voice and an astounding knack for writing catchy two-chord songs that were super-fun to play along with and an absolute joy to solo over.
Missy had played with some really great players and I was honoured to be her new sideman. Willie P. Bennett, Petr Cancura, Keith Glass, and Vince Halfhide (to name a few) had all appeared on her albums at the time so I had really fun parts to cop too. It was a great learning experience, an ethereal amount of fun, and it helped pay a bit of the rent. We played together for close to a year I suppose. I don’t know how it ended, but it did.