Meet Me In The Middle featuring Jim Countryman
Vizztone Label Group/Juicy Juju Records
The Boston based Erin Harpe recorded five electro-pop albums with her first band “Lovewhip” before embracing the blues. Her transition began in 2002 when she released “Blues Roots”; and continued with 2008’s “Delta Blues Duets” recorded with her father Neil.
Erin Harpe and The Delta Swingers were formed in 2010 and won the Boston Blues Challenge twice to advance and compete in the International Blues Challenge held annually in Memphis. They released their debut recording “Love Whip Blues” in 2014; and their 2017 follow-up “Big Road”. Their last recording was “The Christmas Swing” released in 2018.
“Meet Me in The Middle” Is Harpe’s fourth studio album on the Vizztone Label. The album was produced and recorded by Harpe and features her in a duo setting with her husband, co-producer and recording engineer, Jim Countryman. It was recorded while quarantined in their third floor apartment in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Harpe refers to their home studio as the Juicy Juju Studios; and it was there that Harpe, vocals, acoustic guitar, kazoo and foot percussion, was accompanied by Countryman playing a ukelele bass and providing the backing vocals.
Harpe mixes selected covers with her own originals. The oldest song is “When I Lay My Burden Down” credited as traditional; it was first recorded as a spiritual way back in 1928, and later recorded by Mississippi Fred McDowell. Also credited as traditional is “Rollin’ and Tumblin’”, recorded by Hambone Willie Newbern in 1929, and later recorded by Muddy Waters. “What’s The Matter With The Mill” is from Memphis Minnie who recorded the song in 1931. Also recorded in 1931 by Geeshie Wiley, “Pick Poor Robin Clean”, is often credited to Luke Jordan who recorded it four years earlier. “I Hate That Train Called The M & O” was written and recorded in 1934 by Lucille Bogan, who like Wiley, was among the very first blues women recorded. The newest song covered is “Women Be Wise” written and first recorded by Sippie Wallace in 1966 featuring Harpe as she sings “keep your mouth shut, don’t advertise your man”. These are fabulous versions soulfully sung and masterfully played by Harpe who has become a deft fingerpicking guitarist.
As a student of early blues Harpe has also developed her own songwriting skills. Her originals “All Night Long”; “Hard Luck Women”; the title track “Meet Me in The Middle” with the lyric “you’re not right, I’m not wrong”; and my favorite, the closer “One Fine Day” featuring her on a twelve string, seem older than they actual are. Always a fine entertainer Harpe has become an acoustic blues woman with style. Check out this great new recording from the duo of Harpe and Countryman.