This is a picture of a man who enjoys playing the blues and someone that you need to know! Photographed in Austin, Texas on April 13, 2015 Photograph by Daren Carroll
Who is Zac Harmon and why do you need to know him? Well, Zac Harmon is an award-winning guitarist, organist, singer, and songwriter whose distinctive style combines the best of old-school soul-blues artists with modern lyrics and themes that bring the blues into a new century. His new Blind Pig CD, Right Man Right Now, is contemporary music that proves just how alive and relevant the blues is today.
Blues Revue called Harmon “aImasterful musician and performer of the blues.” Blues journalist Don Wilcock referred to his “Bobby Blue Bland uptown sophistication with a touch of Freddie King guitar.” And JazzReview said, “With his big blues sound from Mississippi, Harmon can go toe to toe with some of the best blues men in the business. Please don’t be shy, go ahead and mention Harmon’s name in the same sentence with Bobby “Blue” Bland, Albert King and Bobby Rush—just to name a few.”
Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, Zac Harmon is a true embodiment of the music that emanated from the city’s historic Farish Street district, home of blues legend Elmore James. Given that Zac was exposed to a lot of music in his home, neighborhood, and local culture, it’s not surprising that he turned out a blues musician. His mom played piano, and his dad, the city’s first black pharmacist, played harmonica and tended to the needs of artists such as Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Ike and Tina Turner, Albert King, and Little Milton. His next door neighbor was a music instructor who would host friends such as Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, and Harry Belafonte in her home. Another neighbor, Bill Farris, a blues scholar who worked with noted folklorist Alan Lomax and founded the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, recorded a number of Delta blues artists in his home, including Skip James.
Zac started his professional career at age sixteen, playing guitar with Sam Myers, a friend of his father’s. Two years later he was playing with Dorothy Moore, Z.Z. Hill and other well-known blues artists who were passing through on regional tours. After composing and performing some blues songs for a movie score, Harmon felt compelled to pursue his longtime dream of returning to his roots and recording his first blues project. The result was 2003’s Live at Babe & Ricky’s Inn, an electrifying testimony to Mississippi blues, which showcased the sound at its best and introduced Harmon as a true torchbearer for the “next generation of the Blues.” In 2004, Harmon and his band, the Mid South Blues Revue, sponsored by the Southern California Blues Society, traveled to Memphis and won the Blues Foundation’s prestigious International Blues Challenge title of “Best Unsigned Band.”
His next release, in 2005, was The Blues According To Zacariah, which garnered major national airplay, including XM, Sirius and the American Blues Network. XM listeners voted Harmon “Best New Blues Artist” in the inaugural XM Nation Awards in 2005. In 2006, Harmon won the coveted Blues Music Award for “Best New Artist Debut” for The Blues According to Zacariah. Later that year, he was featured in Blues Revue magazine as one of the 10 artists that “represent the future of the blues,” calling him a “latter-day Eric Clapton or Robert Cray with shades of Luther Allison and BB King.”
Zac Harmon entertained U.S. troops in Iraq and Kuwait in 2008 as one the stars of Bluzapalooza and while headlining “The Pizza & Pyramid Tour” of Sicily, Italy and Cairo, Egypt in late 2009, Harmon and company made history with a rare performance at site of the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx, making the ensemble only the second blues act to do so; Louis Armstrong being the first.
In the early eighties, at age 21, he moved to Los Angeles to take a real shot at the music business. He worked as a studio musician at first and eventually established a very successful career as a songwriter and producer. He worked on major films, television shows, and well-known national commercials, even being hired at one point by Michael Jackson as a staff writer for his publishing company. Harmon wrote songs for the likes of Evelyn “Champagne” King, Freddie Jackson, the Whispers, K-Ci & Jo Jo, and the O’Jays. He also produced songs for reggae band Black Uhuru‘s Mystical Truth album, which received a Grammy nomination in 1994.
With Right Man Right Now Harmon finally brings that excitement to a brand new CD, his bluesiest ever. Addressing issues straight from today’s headlines, Zac presents them in a fresh original style built on the best blues tradition. And he has some incredibly talented musicians helping him – guests include Bobby Rush, Lucky Peterson, Anson Funderburgh and Mike Finnegan.
The album provides definitive proof that Zac Harmon is indeed the right man to firmly establish all that blues can and should be right now in the second decade of the new millennium. For more information: https://www.zacharmon.com