Material: Friday the 16 of March, the day before St. Patrick’s Day, a torrential downpour of rain fell all throughout LA county. Yes, it is true, a drizzle in LA counts as torrential downpour, however, on this night it really did dump. However, that didn’t stop patrons from coming to catch Peter Harper live in concert at The Mint in L.A.
The nearly sold-out venue had people standing all the way back to the bathrooms when Harper took the stage at 9:45 p.m. He opened the set with a song called “Why Love Does What It Does.” The song had a strong Spanish feel blended with a dizzying waltz. The song started soft and delicate about a love filled with promises that had fallen to pieces and then exploded in a passionate quest to figure out exactly why love does what it does. After that, we were hooked.
Musicianship: Harper and his band slowed the set down, then sped up as if rocking us back and forth in a cradle, playing modern soul-filled folk music that is clearly the new direction of the modern singer-songwriter. Finally, Harper had us singing along, stomping our feet and clapping our hands. When we thought we had reached a pinnacle, he started talking about a very special guest that would be joining him on stage. I, like the rest of the crowd, expected one of his more famous family members to join him, so when he called out the name Jody Watley, a surprised murmur went through the crowd. This was not what you’d assume Watley would sing. She had a regal presence and her soulful voice added depth to the love song, and a certainty that love prevails. As the song says, "the insurmountable love between two people that is unfettered by distance, time or adversity." Judging by the roar of applause, the older generation was excited to hear them sing, whilst the younger generation had their phones out googling who she was. The song written by Harper was called "Million Miles" and features Watley on the album. I was not surprised when I saw people dabbing their eyes with Kleenex. Together, Harper and Watley’s voices blended beautifully and much more can be expected from them in the future.
Performance: Throughout the evening, Harper demonstrated a wide vocal range that spans from deep and gravelly to soft and silky. He uses this range to swoop you up and take you on a journey that, at the end, makes you feel like you ate a cookie from The Oracle in the matrix.
Harper plays a four string guitar called a tenor guitar, an instrument that became popular in the 30s and 40s but has since mostly disappeared from mainstream music. It has a unique sound, reminiscent of various stringed instruments. His band was locked in and tight, weaving together a soulful musical experience.
Summary: Folk musicians and singer-songwriters make room, Harper is a talented and charming class act. I recommend catching a show now while the front row tickets are still cheap.
The Players: Peter Harper, lead vocals and tenor guitar, Ray “The Mac” McNamara, Drums, Ethan “Pops” Chiampas Upright bass and Mike “Magic Hands” Kreivis, guitar, mandolin, guitjo and electric guitar.