Making a Scene Presents an Interview with Indie Blues Artist Big Harp George
Big Harp George/George Bisharat is a San Francisco Bay Area blues singer, songwriter, and harmonica player who features the chromatic harmonica. George was a criminal defense attorney, award-winning professor of law at UC Hastings College of the Law, and expert commentator on law and politics in the Middle East before turning to music full time.
George counts George “Harmonica” Smith, William Clarke, and Paul deLay as major influences on his chromatic playing. The chromatic (compared to the ten-hole diatonic more common to blues) has a distinctive voice, and lends Big Harp George’s sound a jazzy, contemporary, and sophisticated feel. He was selected as one of fifteen “rising stars” by Living Blues Magazine in the August 2014 harmonica issue.
Big Harp George’s 2014 debut release Chromaticism included Northern California blues standouts Little Charlie Baty, Kid Andersen, Rusty Zinn, Chris Burns, and others. It earned “Best New Artist” award nominations from the Blues Foundation and Blues Blast Magazine and high praise from blues music critics.
Of his soon newly released third album, Big Harp George comments: “Uptown Cool reflects, on the one hand, my growing addiction to playing with horns, which grace every track, and, on the other hand, my determination to say something about contemporary life using the blues idiom. While this is my music in every sense, it is equally the product of collaboration. Each song here bears the mark of the great musicians who contributed their creativity unstintingly to this project. The sessions were long and arduous: guitarists and bassists played until their fingers were numb; horn players till their lips ached; and more than one of us nodded off in the lulls between takes (and one of us during one!). But what kept us going through the fatigue was a growing excitement that, as the songs took shape, together we were achieving something special. Athletes are fond of saying ‘we left it all on the field.’ We left it all in the studio.”
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