Erin Harpe
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Erin Harpe

Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, United States

Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, United States
Band Blues Acoustic


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Delta Blues Duets Review"

June 2008

Erin Harpe may be known best for fronting her electro dance party rock band Lovewhip. In local blues circles, though, she has earned respect as a solo blues artist for her sparse renditions of vintage blues songs originally written by the likes of Memphis Minnie, Bessie Smith, and Kansas Joe.

Growing up in the Washington D.C. area, Harpe was schooled by her father Neil Harpe. The elder Harpe had her playing out in coffeehouses, folk festivals, bars, and parties through out D.C. Landing in Boston after college; Ms. Harpe soon started her bifurcated musical career.

She released Blues Roots to much acclaim in 2002. Winning rave reviews for her CD, Ms. Harpe was a finalist in the Boston Blues Challenge, a featured player at Boston’s House Of Blues, and a staple on Boston blues radio programs. She once opened for Rounder Records blues band The Tarbox Ramblers.

On her sophomore blues effort, Delta Blues Duets, Harpe has recruited her dad to back her on guitar and vocals. Both Harpes have voices that can stand alone without the music. On “Bye Bye Blues,” the guitars are twisty and the vocals are authentic for this genre. Each Harpe has true range. Being father and daughter they naturally work well together - the combination of the two making this disc successful.

“Called You This Morning” features Neil’s voice sounding appropriately raspy. Erin doesn’t sound nearly as whisky-soaked, but she does sound soulful and real. She has moments when her voice wraps around these lyrics as tight as an elastic band, her command making these songs her own.

On guitars, these two weave a wall of bluesy old-time sweetness. Their finger picking styles conjure images of Southern blues musicians playing on each other’s front porches on hot summer evenings. “Chauffer Blues” has a thicker guitar sound that perfectly matches Erin’s vocal delivery. She grew up with this music, and she has a good sense of its fundamentals.

Some fans of her Lovewhip band might have to check out this disc one track at a time before they get into, and appreciate, her work with vintage blues. From there, they will likely gain a greater appreciation of what she does in each format.

In “Kokomo Blues,” the Harpes create a huge bluesy backdrop with slide and rhythm, while Erin fills the melody with her voice, something she is vocally strong enough to pull off. There is a sweetness to the melody they play on “Fishin’ Blues” that actually creates the breezy mood of this favorite past time. Father and daughter clearly enjoy singing this song together, bringing warmth and tenderness to it.

Each track gives the listener insight into just how much a solo or duo can accomplish with sparse instrumentation around one or two voices. “In My Girlish Days,” with it’s 1936 picking approach, allows Erin’s voice to stretch and effectively fill out the sound. “Mississippi Delta Blues” uses a plucky classic blues guitar chord progression. “Down And Out,” meanwhile, finds Erin’s voice wringing a lot of feeling out of each verse.

Erin’s best performance on Delta Blues Duets happens on “Stop And Listen Blues,” a story song about going to court and facing a tough judge. She sounds appropriately wry, while her rhythm guitar kicks each verse forward with solid smacks. She also sounds like an authentic blues chanteuse on “Winnie The Wailer,” another story song, and here she reaches the emotive quality of Billie Holiday.

There is not a weak moment on this whole record. The liner notes do not include song credits, so only blues aficionados will know the original songwriters. Otherwise, daughter and father Harpe have made a valiant, valid effort at bringing this music to a modern audience.
- Bill Copeland, Boston Blues Society (

"Live Review"

June 2008

Celebrating the release of her latest album Delta Blues Duets, singer Erin Harpe owned the night with her unique take on the acoustic delta blues. Harpe, the frontwoman for the popular electro-funk dance band Lovewhip, was warmly received as she presented her contrasting shift into the blues world. The audience was varied, some old some young, many obviously familiar with Harpe and a few simply taking a chance for the first time. Once Harpe took the stage, however, all listeners appeared captivated and ultimately pleased with the nights’ performance.

Harpe, a native of the Washington DC area, began playing guitar in her teens. She eventually took to folk festivals, coffee houses, and bars to spread her sound. Harpe then moved to Boston to further develop her music and blues guitar style, subsequently finding success as a blues artist via a Rounder Records national tour and the Boston Blues Challenge.

Delta Blues Duets consists of tracks performed by Harpe and her father. For this event, however, only Erin was present to intimately supply infectious vocals and gritty guitar strumming, along with the welcome addition of guest saxophonist and former Lovewhip musician, Sister Nancy.

Decked out in polka dots and leg warmers with her dreadlocks pulled back, Harpe came ready to rock the blues with her eclectic style in hand. The strength of Harpe’s vocal tonality was able to effortlessly blend with the higher register of the accompanying alto saxophone, causing the most organic of emotions to illuminate the room. The songs were personal and gripping, but interestingly enough, the rawness of’ the lyrical content often gave way to certain spark of positivity that allowed for the audience to feel comfortable enough to break out an occasional dance move and even smile.

Some of the most memorable numbers included Harpe’s rendition of Robert Johnson’s “Hell Hound On My Trail” and Blind Arthur Blake’s “You Gonna Quit Me Baby”, with her gritty guitar picking matching the most authentic styles of the deep South. The mere attempt to cover such iconic blues tracks serves as evidence of Harpe’s high level of dedication and confidence as an artist, and her ability to interpret such sounds in her style demonstrates her skill. Harpe’s presence was highly endearing and unpretentious, and she embodied a new, independent form of the blues that surely left the audience wanting more.
- Jillian Horn, Northeast Performer Magazine

"Blues Roots Review"

So I was delivering mags to Evangeline Cafe and Curtis says “Listen to this,” and a minute into Memphis Minnie’s Chauffeur Blues, I’m going ‘Holy shit!’ I hope I’m not the total Blues Nazi, but I went to all the early to mid 60s American Folk Blues Festivals (Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin’ Wolf, Lonnie Johnson, Son House, Big Joe Williams, Victoria Spivey, Sippie Wallace, T-Bone Walker, Buddy Guy, Magic Sam, well, you get the picture) and I gotta tell you, they’ve been kind of a tough act to follow ever since. In fact, the only other white female blues musicians I ever cared much for up to now were the wonderful Jo Ann Kelly, who had chunks of people like Bonnie Raitt and Rory Block in her stool, and Jo Serrapere, but Harpe, based in Jamaica Plain, MA, has made a believer of me.

One oddity is Big Bad Bill, which, contrary to what the Internet will tell you, was not written by Van Halen, but by Jack Yellen & Milton Ager, who also wrote Ain’t She Sweet and Happy Days Are Here Again, but the rest of her set is hardcore country, mostly Delta, blues, covers of Memphis Minnie (also In My Girlish Days), Bessie Smith (Alligator Blues), Piedmont Blues legend William Moore (One Thing I Like About That Man Of Mine), Tommy Johnson (Bye Bye Blues and Big Road Blues), Lucille Bogan (M&O Blues, more accurately, I Hate That Train Called The M&O), Blind Blake (You Gonna Quit Me Blues), Geeshie Wiley (Pick Poor Robin Clean), Willie Brown (Future Blues) and Eleanor Ellis (Stop And Listen Blues).

Accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, Harpe cut this in four hours and four hours were never better spent. She has much in common with Steve James, the same total, selfless and compelling immersion in the music without either Block/Bookbinder’s irritating ‘I’m preserving this for posterity’ patronage or Raitt/Clapton’s even more annoying ‘Is it my fault I can play Robert Johnson better than Robert Johnson?’ arrogance. Take it from someone who asks, along with Viv Stanshall of The Bonzo Bog Doo Dah Band, “can blue men sing the whites or are they hypocrites?,” Erin Harpe is blues magic. Rather oddly, considering how utterly convincing she is at 20s and 30s Delta Blues, she’s actually coming to Austin in a very different role, as sexbomb lead singer and lead guitarist of cutting edge electro World-pop dance band Lovewhip. Wish I could catch them, but there’s the thing, you know, the thing we were talking about...
- John Conquest, Third Coast Music, Austin TX

"Delta Blues Duets review from Belgium"

November 21, 2008
Rate (1-5) : 5

For those who miss the early days Bonnie Riatt or Rory Block, Erin Harpe might bring salvation! A blues Chanteuse in the vein of Memphis Minnie or Bessie Smith, Erin�s music comes close to the authentic and raw blues from decades ago.

Taught the guitar by her father, bluesman Neil Harpe, Erin quickly starts to play and sing in bars and folk festivals. But the stage was too small for Erin and thus soon some airplay followed. Now being heard all over the world in all kind of blues shows it is time to present her second album: Delta Blues. What Delta blues makes so special is the fact that Erin is singing a handful of duets with her father. Full of finger picking greats reminiscent to time people where playing guitar on their porches in the hot summer nights both Erin & Neil perform some great classic tunes from Memphis Minnie, Bessie Smith, Lonnie Johnson or Henry Ragtime Texas Thomas.

Ten magical tunes from times gone by are presented on Delta Blues! The old-time feeling that presented here is as fresh as possible and has totally nothing to do with old fat women or ugly guitar players. Erin Harpe is a good looking girl with a love for music as deep as possible and that is all you need to makes this great finger picking blues as hip as anything else.
Expect nothing else then the best when you start spinning this record.

- Mr Blues Boogie.


Blues Roots - 2002 Juicy Juju Records

Delta Blues Duets - 2008 Juicy Juju Records



“An authentic blues chanteuse” in the vein of Memphis Minnie and Bessie Smith, Erin Harpe is earning a reputation for her raw style and “total, selfless and compelling immersion in the music.” One of contemporary acoustic blues’ most accomplished female guitarists, she is often compared to JoAnn Kelley, Rory Block, or early Bonnie Raitt.

Erin began playing guitar in her teens taught by her father, bluesman Neil Harpe. She soon began performing at folk festivals, coffee houses, bars, and parties in the DC area, developing a strong vocal and guitar style of her own.

Since moving to Boston, Erin has performed at famed venues such as The Original House of Blues, the Middle East, and Harpers Ferry, and also toured around the country, including playing SXSW in Austin Texas, and playing the NY State Blues Festival in 2008. She has earned accolades, for instance she was the first solo act to participate in the Boston Blues Challenge, where she made it to the finals, winning her night and beating out six blues bands. She is played regularly on US radio from Austin TX to Boston MA, and counts among her fans veteran WBOS radio DJ Holly Harris. She can also be heard on radio shows in France, Poland, Germany, Spain, England, Japan and Italy.

Juicy Juju Records is proud to announce the release of Erin’s second CD, Delta Blues Duets, vocal and guitar duets with her father Neil Harpe. The CD features harmonized vocals and dueling finger picking acoustic guitar parts, reminiscent of Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe. The ten-song CD was recorded at Mix One Studios in Boston.