Ric Harris Open for Business Review
By: Griff Stevens
Originally hailing from North Carolina, Ric Harris made his way to Chicago after a stint in Los Angeles at the Guitar Institute of Technology to further his education. Blues has a rich history in the bowels of its Chicago clubs and Harris found inspiration in such artists as Gary Moore, Dickey Betts and Duane Allman. Slide guitar became his go to sound at jam sessions around Chicago. Harris’ approach like jazz guitarists, is based more in an improvisational approach to the blues. On his debut blues album Open For Business, Harris’ compositions meld the art of improvisation with his original melodies. On Open for Business Harris is joined by rhythm guitarist Zack Avery, drummer Marty Binder, harmonica player Ray Cumpian, vocalist Gwen Klemenz, keyboardist Steve Kostakes, and bassist Harlan Terson, who are all regular members of Harris Chicago based band.
“Before We Turn Out The Light” finds the bluesman opening the track with some fine slide guitar work. His tone and intonation are correct and true to the form and history of the blues. Emotionally milking each held note. The melody features Harris singing in his lower register. The melody is bluesy and with emphasis from harmony vocals from Klemenz, the tune has a variety of colors. The solo portion of the track features Kostakes at the organ and Harris doing more slide work. Harris’ has a building quality to his solos, he knows when to play and when not to play. Also, he builds in register as the intensity grows.
“If Not” is a blues shuffle that will make all the traditionalist feel at home, but Harris has a few harmonic tricks up his sleeve that will add a little spice to the tradition. His lyrics are interesting and sung with a raspy blues voice. Harris fingers a bluesy solo that has emotional bends and blues drenched single notes. Binder and Terson keep the mojo steady and that allows Harris to dig into his solo and pay homage to the legendary greats. Harris has many talents, a virtuoso instrumentalist, a musician that can sing with a poignant blues feeling and compose music that expresses the pain and redemption of life. All three of those elements can be heard on “If Not.”
Harris’ approach to the blues is in service of the song, not just the soloist. His melodies are well-crafted and have a broad-based appeal lyrically. Though this is Harris’ debut blues album, it’s certainly not the first album in his discography. His versatility in genres lends itself to the overall success of Open For Business. Whether you like refinement in your blues or a bit of southern blues rock, Open For Business has something for everyone, whether you are a beer or cocktail type, its all in the mix.
- Release Date: January 18, 2019
- Label: Ric Harris