Performance at Seniors Home showcases alt country appeal with Kitchen Rag and Wine

It takes guts to video your gig playing in the lobby of a seniors home. It’s a tough room but Harlan Pepper turns a few smiles and gets them dancing in the aisles.

Since graduating from high school almost three years ago, Harlan Pepper have honed their chops with a fresh mix of alt country, folk and rock.

The video is from the Southern Souls tour.  Southern Souls features bands and musicians from the Southern Ontario region although with Harlan Pepper you might think their roots are North Carolina.

I first heard of Harlan Pepper via Tom Wilson, who is dad to Harlan Pepper bass player Thompson Wilson. Tom sent me the group’s first CD Harlan Pepper – Young and Old. You couldn’t help but like their fresh music that was old and new all at once.

We met the self-effacing Thompson when he toured with Lee Harvey Osmond last winter. (See Stephen’s most excellent adventure week with Tom Wilson part three)

Thompson is a solid bass player both with Harlan Pepper and backing up his dad’s acid-folk-rock band.

It’s hard not to like Harlan Pepper and to note the Bob Dylan resemblance and charisma of lead singer banjo player Dan Edmonds.

Jimmy Hayes is an accomplished guitar picker in the country and folk traditions. Marlon Nicolle knows how to drum for what is sometimes soft almost gentle music, a rare skill in young drummers.

As a group, Harlan Pepper understands the dynamics and emotional impact of not playing at full volume, an amazing trait. Sometimes they remind me of the relaxed pace of Cowboy Junkies.

Over the past two years the band has been appearing in Ontario, opening for Tom Wilson and his alter ego Lee Harvey Osmond and on other bills.

They were well reviewed after a recent show. “For a four piece band, barely 20 years old, they write and perform at a level beyond them in years. They keep their subject matter close to what they know, the Great Lakes, for example, but the music that accompanies the lyrics is nothing short amazing, no matter their age, or the listeners age. If you closed your eyes and listened you would probably picture a veteran band, like The Sadies, in the place of Harlan Pepper. They have a song-writing maturity and live sound that takes most bands years to perfect. The band’s stage presence is amazing as well.” Aaron Dale Music Lives

Harlan Pepper will tour Saskatchewan and Alberta in February with the Canadian super-group Blackie and the Rodeo Kings.The tour is promoting the new Rodeo Kings & Queens CD.

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings will be in Alberta and Saskatchewan between February 2nd and 9th. Blackie put on a great show and the addition of Harlan Pepper should be a treat.

Alberta shows: The Hideout, Red Deer; Festival Place, Sherwood Park ; Bailey Theatre, Camrose; Cochrane Alliance Church, Cochrane ; Esplanade Arts & Heritage Centre, Medicine Hat

Saskatchewan shows: The Broadway Theatre, Saskatoon; The Lyric Theatre, Swift Current, SK

I hope they continue to make music their lives and develop their talents. Rumors say a new CD is in the works from Harlan Pepper.

Here’s Great Lakes, their first big song.

Harlan Pepper – Young and Old is available from or from Maple Music.

Harlan Pepper