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Patty Harper & Faultline: Press

Cordova guitarist vies for King of the Blues

The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN (June 06)

Blues guitarist Steve Harper plays in the band Faultline while taking his shot at the big time as a finalist in the King of the Blues competition at the House of Blues in Chicago.
By Jon W. Sparks

June 8, 2006
The band fires it up even though there's still plenty of daylight.
Obviously this is no Delta juke joint. It's Whistler's Sports Grill and Pizzeria in the heart of Bartlett, an establishment catering to the suburban after-work crowd one recent Friday.
The group -- Patty Harper & Faultline -- favors the blues, but it handles Steely Dan or Santana or Van Morrison with equal aplomb.
The suburban venue and pop playlist notwithstanding, you would be wise not to underestimate these musicians. All are skilled -- and one among them just might be the best blues guitarist in the country.
How is it that Steve Harper, California-born and now a resident of Cordova, has a shot at such status?
There is love, of course, for his music. And there is dogged determination, including years of hauling equipment in the rain at 3 a.m. But no small part of it is the Guitarmageddon King of the Blues competition sponsored by Guitar Center and culminating tonight in Chicago.
This year's contest drew more than 3,000 blues guitarists from around the country. After several rounds of eliminations starting in March, Harper has emerged as one of seven who are performing tonight at the House of Blues in Chicago -- opening acts for headliner B. B. King.
Harper, 54, started playing at age 11.
"My love was for the blues. I cut my teeth on B.B. King. 'Live at the Regal' hooked me. I've been through rock, jazz, country and finally came back to the blues and have been playing it for 20 years. And I'm having more fun and passion today than when I was 23."
Several years ago in California he advertised for a singer for his band. The woman who was hired became not only the lead singer but the love of his life. Patty Harper, with a soulful voice that goes anywhere she wants it to, is also the one who encouraged him to give the Guitarmageddon contest a shot.
"He's a humble guy. It's not in his personality to do this, but I told him 'You need to.' "
Steve agreed that he'd never really competed. "But Patty's got persuasive ways."
The couple lived in Las Vegas for a few years before coming to Memphis. They'd won a couple of airline tickets and Steve wanted to show Beale Street to Patty, so they came to visit.
And fell madly in love with the blues scene.
The guitar virtuoso works as purchasing manager at Chris-More Inc., a plumbing supply outfit.
By night, he gets his mojo workin' with his band Faultline, an aggregation fine enough to be one of the handful of acts in Rock 103's Great Unsigned series. The showcase for local unsigned bands is aired on Sundays from 9 to 11 p.m. and during the Dennis and Ric afternoon show.
"We've played tracks featuring his amazing work on the guitar," says Dennis Phillippi, half of the duo. "The thing that really strikes us about Steve and this competition is how genuinely excited he is just to be included in the company of so many gifted musicians. It couldn't happen to a more talented, or nice, guy."
Tonight, the talented guy will climb the stage in Chicago, play a track with a live band and then knock out a two-minute solo. When all seven performers are done doing the same, the judges will compare notes and declare one the winner.
There are more than $40,000 in prizes for the top dog, from a new Toyota Scion to guitars and a recording session.
"Whoever wins is gonna be in a new tax bracket," Steve cracks.
There is also a chance that the winner will get to trade a few licks onstage with B.B. himself.
"It gives me chills to think about it. Patty asked if I might choke. I said no way. I'll seize the moment and savor it. It'll be a dream come true."
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Steve Harper
Info on the Guitarmageddon contest: guitarcenter.com/guitarmageddon
Info on the Great Unsigned: rock103.com/pages/dnr
Faultline performs June 17 at The Crossings (7281 Hacks Cross at Goodman Road) and on July 17 at the Memphis Redbirds game.
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He loses a crown but meets a King

By Jon W. Sparks

June 10, 2006

Steve Harper didn't walk away with the big prize, but he still felt like a kid at Christmas -- one who got to meet Santa Claus.
Harper was one of seven finalists in the Guitarmageddon King of the Blues competition Thursday night in Chicago.
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They were the best of more than 3,000 blues guitarists who had been whittled down in recent weeks as they vied in the event sponsored by Guitar Center stores.
The Cordova resident was bested by New Jersey musician Matt O'Ree in the eyes and ears of the judges. But it was a razor-close competition, with some judges reportedly favoring Harper's licks.
On Friday, Harper said he had no regrets for this experience of a lifetime.
"I did the best I could do, and the judges just saw something they liked in this guy and more power to him."
Many in the standing room only crowd at the House of Blues were in Harper's corner.
From the time he arrived earlier this week, the experience was wild -- photo sessions, rehearsals, interviews, tours, celebrity meets.
Late Thursday night, after all had performed and before the judges announced the decision, the seven were awarded an unforgettable experience.
"They took us to B.B. King's private dressing room, and we could go in with our guitars and have pictures made. Waiting outside I said to someone I felt like a kid waiting to see Santa Claus. And sure enough, when we went in, there he was on his throne with Lucille."
So what's next?
"I'll go back to paying my dues and playing the blues."

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A note from Patty....

Hi All of you wonderful people,
Steve & I want to THANK YOU for all of your love and support over these past few months. We have received so many emails and phone calls wishing Steve well during this CRAZY JOURNEY as he has competed in the Guitar Center Guitarmaggedon "King of the Blues" guitar competition. As you know, he made it all the way to the finals in Chicago this week as one of 7 guitarists remaining out of the 4950 who competed! I am so PROUD of him! Several people have asked how it went...so, I will tell you...forgive me if I go on and on but I just couldn't be more proud!
First, I wanted to let you all know that he has had the most amazing time throughout this entire experience! The trip to Chicago was fantastic! He flew out Tuesday and was picked up by limo and taken to the SUPER COOL House of Blues Hotel in downtown Chicago. It is right across the street from The House of Blues Nightclub which is an awesome venue! Guitar Center, who sponsored the competition, really treated the guys GREAT and it was all First Class. All week long he had interviews, video shoots and lots of photo sessions. He got to rehearse with the backup band for the competition - all studio musicians assembled by Pete Anderson (Grammy winning Producer, Guitarist, Songwriter) on Wednesday afternoon and then ran out to do some tourist stuff. Later that night he jammed with the band that was playing at The House of Blues Hotel and had a blast!
Thursday I flew in to be there for the finals. The show was SOLD OUT and it was a standing room only crowd packed into the coolest venue ever! The M.C. for the evening was Cheech Marin of Cheech & Chong fame. There was then a very DIFFERENT kind of DJ/Band (hard to describe). The guy had the DJ setup with 2 turntables and was spinning and scratching Blues records and also had a drummer, bassist and guitarist playing on stage. Next they played a cool video talking about the Guitarmaggedon competition and then before each guy came out to play they brought down the big screen to show the videotaped interviews as introductions a la American Idol. They had drawn numbers for the playing order and Steve played 6th out of 7. The players were all amazing! Steve was totally on his "A-Game" when he played both of his original songs. The first was on electric and he was backed by the band. The second was a 2 minute solo accoustic number - just the man and his guitar on that big stage in that awesome venue playing to that packed house. He said it was one of the best moments in his life. He also said it felt like it went by in the blink of an eye. I will say, as an audience member, that some of those guys who could play the heck out of electric guitar were not nearly as skilled on the acoustic. This was a challenge for Steve at first too but he has put in many hours over the past weeks preparing and is now a much better acoustic guitarist than he was when this whole thing started. To commemorate the occasion, I bought him the Gibson Songwriter Deluxe acoustic guitar that he had been loaned by Guitar Center to use for the competition. I gave it to him last night and he was super surprised. That was cool.
Back to the recap of the competition, there were 9 judges including Dave Mason, Hubert Summerlin (Howlin Wolf's Guitarist), Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, Bruce Iglar (Alligator Records President), Marcy Levy and others. The judges took quite a while to finish their deliberations after the last of the guitarists played. Judging was based on Talent, Originality and Showmanship. While they were making their decisions the guys each got to meet with BB King individually for a brief chat and a photo session. I just can't wait to see the photo of BB holding Lucille and Steve next to him holding his pride and joy, the Gibson guitar that he had custom made at the Gibson Guitar Factory here in Memphis. The visit with B.B. was the highlight of the trip for Steve, as you can imagine. I will share the pictures as soon as we have them.
Anyway, as you read above, the winner was a guy named Matt. I am sure that his scores for "Showmanship" were especially high because he did that whole Chuck Berry Hopping with the guitar between his legs thing. He was quite good but there were a few that I personally liked more...but you know, it is all subjective and musical beauty is in the ears of the beholder, right?! After the winner was announced, BB KING and his band came out to play. BB, who is 80 years old now, was awesome, as always. It was fun to see our old friend and Las Vegas bandmate Charlie "Tuna" Dennis playing second guitar with BB's band as he has for the past 6 years or so. We had a few very nice visits with him during our stay too. Then John Mayer came out to play with BB --- fantastic. The Guitarmaggedon winner did not get to jam with B.B. unfortunately.
After the show, Steve & I went outside the HOUSE OF BLUES to visit with some friends. As we sat there enjoying the early morning breeze and basking in the afterglow of a truly magical night, we had SO MANY people come up to shake Steve's hand and to tell him how awesome he was, how they loved his whole LATINO BLUES vibe (he liked that) and many were adamant in their belief that he SHOULD have been the winner. Steve thanked them all and told them that he had really had the time of his life and had no regrets. One of the people who stopped to chat was the manager for Howlin' Wolf's guitarist, Hubert Summerlin. She said, "I wanted you to know that Hubert had picked you as the winner and so did Dave Mason!" She went on to say "You don't need a competition like this to feel validated. You are truly a whole level about these other guys!" That was NICE!
He was so pleased with the way it all went that he HONESTLY didn't care if he won or lost. He was a WINNER by making it that far and knows what an honor it has been. We are both still floating on cloud 9 and as I type I can hear him back in his studio playing that new acoustic and getting ready for our band rehearsal this afternoon. Maybe I can talk him into doing the competition again NEXT YEAR! We shall see...for now, we get ready for the next Faultline gig and hope to see you there if you can make it!
Special thanks to everybody at Guitar Center, Gibson, Dennis, Ric & Luca of Rock 103 and to Jon Sparks of the Commercial Appeal for running the two very nice articles this week...the first ran on June 8th and the second one ran shortly thereafter….
~ Patty
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Jon W. Sparks - Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN (2 articles about Steve's adventures in the "Kind of the Blues" guitar competition plus Patty's recap of the events.
Awesome!
Reviewer: Rough bein' a fish!
If you have never heard Patty sing here's your chance! She, Steve and the band will rock your socks off!
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Reviewer: Laura Payton
WOW Hard to believe that girl is white. And the chops on the lead guitar blew me away. I even loved the background vocals. This is a must have CD

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Reviewer: Chris Gill /Guitar World Magazine / Nov. 06
Revealing the influence of Larry Carlton and Robben Ford, 53 year-old Steve Harper from Memphis, Tennessee, performed a sophisticated , jazzy style of blues....

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Rocking!!!
Reviewer: Luca
Absolutely fantastic! Patty's voice is incredible and Steve is master on the guitar. It's one of those CDs you can listen to forever...so get it!!

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Great blues band, transplanted from Southern California!
Reviewer: Jeff Stone
Fantastic singer, stellar guitar work and great original tunes. I performed with this band as a bassist in Southern California and they were awesome. Great people & great musicians.

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Great feel good music
Reviewer: april deskin
This music is such awsome feel good music that makes you want to listen to blues all day long!!!! Very invigerating,and motivating!! And Wow the vocals and guitar are awsome!!

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It is fantastic
Reviewer: Cheryl Williams
The whole CD is great We enjoyed it so much My favorite is still At Last Patty's voice is strong and beautiful & Steve is the bomb on his guitar

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Blues done right, all day all night!
Reviewer: John Gould
Some bands have soul but no chops, some have a great singer but a so-so band, some have killer songs but ho-hum delivery. It is increasingly rare to finally hear a band that has all the bases covered, and covered better than most who aspire to play the blues. Faultline is one of those few bands that has it all, in spades, and they know when to pour it on, when to let it ride. The energy is incredible, the nuances sublime. Everyone is a monster on their axe, but you only see this monstrosity when it's called for in the music,never for its own sake. In a word: superb.

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Reviewer: bev warder
Love the sound especially the 2nd song.Great guitar

(THAT ONE IS FROM PATTY'S MOM!) :-)
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