RJ Harman & Company
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RJ Harman & Company

Gainesville, Florida, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Gainesville, Florida, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Blues Rock

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"RJ Harman And Company At Wall Street Plaza Orlando"

When RJ and I were in middle school, we frequently shared our dreams and aspirations of becoming musicians and performing in front of thousands. Just then was RJ getting into blues and learning the basics of the Harmonica while we attended Jazz class together at Rock Lake Middle School. Not but just eight years later, on August 16th, 2009 RJ Harman became the Florida Harmonica Champion after taking home Florida’s 4th annual Harmonica Championship’s first place trophy.

I met RJ Harman when I was in the sixth grade and was always impressed with the talent that he possessed. I was amazed when I realized he played more that one instrument that in fact he played almost every brass instrument they offered at my school, and not only did he learn how to play them, but mastered them. Eventually I started getting lessons from RJ for trumpet and got to know him very well. I will never forget the day he brought in his harmonica to the practice room and showed me some basic tunes he had been fooling around with. Eventually, RJ started focusing just on harmonica and seemed to be very passionate about it. In high school, RJ started playing with various different groups and formed several bands. One of the groups he started, a group known as “Cold Funk Fusion,” played all over Orlando for most of RJ’s high school career. They even placed in several battles of the bands and flew up to Solid State Records headquarters to record an album and talk about a potential record deal. However, things eventually fell through with the band and not everyone shared the same passion as RJ did. Harman started performing by himself and hiring out musicians to play for him. He is now noticed as a renowned professional jazz and blues harmonica player at the age of twenty one and has graced the stage with such performers as Jason Ricci, Lupe Fiasco, Motion City Soundtrack, Rachel Goodrich, Joe Filisko, Phil Wiggins, Ian Walters, Rev Paytons Big Damn Band, Jp Soars and much more. RJ has also been featured in the Orlando Sentinel Newspaper in a full two page article.

Since I have moved away to college, I haven’t had the chance to see RJ perform in some time, so I decided to make a trip to Orlando to go and see him. On Tuesday March, 8th RJ Harman and Company performed at Wall Street Plaza in downtown Orlando. As they approached the stage, I was taken by complete surprise when the crowd started going nuts. People were cheering his name and clapping as loud as the possibly could. As the band started their set, all I could listen to was RJ blaring his blues harmonica with perfect style and rich tone- the notes flew off the stage by the thousands. The way Harman plays the harmonica is the way BB King plays his six stringed beauty with such soul and quickness. I was thoroughly impressed and could not even begin to comprehend how blown away I was by his face-melting jazz riffs that sounded like they were screeching out of a Gibson Les Paul, not a tiny harmonica. RJ designed the mic that he uses for every performance, it is hooked up to a pedal with certain affects on it. He would sometimes put a distortion and delay on it, almost imitating the sound of a guitar. It was an awesome performance and was awesome to see an old friend perform such a solid set.
- By Tyler Denslow


"Music Special"

"With music, I can tell how I feel and let it out without words". - RJ Harman, 17, Harmonica Virtuoso - Channel 9 news


"Newstock of Sarasota"

The morning started out with RJ Harman & CO. who is a well-collaborated blues harp player, the 2009 winner of the Florida Harmonica Championship ("the big prize went to RJ Harman...I don't know how a 20 year old player gets this good this fast...from stage performance to astounding harp licks this guy has it all...something tells me we'll be seeing a lot more of RJ in the years to come."), a local musician centered around Orlando who put on one hell of a show. - New College


""Teen's Harp talent blows listeners away!!!!""

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS- Boredom led R.J. Harman to pick up the harmonica one night. But pass for the music drives the 17-year-old to keep playing. "The harmonica, I would have to say, is my instrument," said R.J., a junior at Lake Brantley High School. "It just talks to me." R.J. received his first harmonica as a present from his grandfather for his 13th birthday. Initially, he didn't think much about the gift. He played it for a little while but then put it away. "And the, finally, I got bored one night, and so I picked it up. And it surprised me because it just came so naturally." he said. "I learned like 15 songs that one night, and then from t here I just kept going." R.J. now owns 24 harmonicas, which are also called harps, and practices three to four hours a day. He takes private lessons from two teachers and has attended blues workshops in West Virginia, where he studied with world-class players. People quickly take notice of his advanced skills. "Most people, when they hear me play, they're like, 'Wow, he's so young, but he has all the tricks,' " R.J. said. Larry "The Iceman" Eisenberg of Longwood is one of his harmonica instructors. R.J. is "a very mature performer in a young body" and is his best student in Florida, Eisenberg said. "His strengths are his razor-sharp focus, passion, dedication and the wonderful, youthful attitude that nothing is impossible," Eisenberg said. Although the harmonica is R.J's favorite instrument, it isn't the only one he plays. At Lake Brantley, he is in three bands. He plays the baritone in the symphonic band and the trumpet in the marching and jazz bands. Plus, he is featured on the harmonica in the jazz band. He also plays harmonica with two fledging groups of his own- a swing band and a blues band. His music teachers at school describe R.J. as a quiet student whose shyness melts away when he plays the harmonica. Cindy Berry, Lake Brantley's director of bands, was wowed the first time she heard him play. She credits assistant band director Nancy Micklos with bringing his talent to her attention. "You realize early on that it's not something that he's just doing as a fad. It's something that he really feels strongly about," Berry said. "And then, you hear him play, he just gets so involved in his music that it's amazing," she said. "It's a passion that he has for this. It's just absolutely unparalleled. It is a concerto almost on that harmonica." R.J. has performed at schoo, his church and open-mic events. In the fall, he performed a solo that was a highlight of Arts Alive in Seminole!, an annual fundraiser for fine-arts programs in Seminole County Public School. He also has performed with bands at the House of Blues at downtown Disney and The Alley, A Blues Bar, in Sanford. His repertoire ranges from jazz and blues standards to "Amazing Grace" and "The Star Spangled Banner." Recently, he too up singing, too. Music in general, and the harmonica in particular, help the teen cope with life's problems and stress. For R.J., one of those problems is that he often stutters when he talks. "A lot of things I get down about- like I get made fun of a lot and stuff- so I just use music for it," he said. "With music, I can tell how I feel and let it out without words." R.J.'s long-range goals are to study music in college and become a professional harmonica player with his own band. And he wants to dispel preconceived notions that people may have about his instrument of choice. "If you say harmonica, they think of it as a toy, when it's actually a legitimate instrument," he said. "Most people don't really know, so when they hear harmonica being played, they immediately think Bob Dylan playing it and stuff, huffing and puffing through it," he said. "There are so many different ways you can make it sound." For R.J., the harmonica is the ultimate means of self-expression and the best way to connect with an audience. "I feel that I can tell my story through it better," he said. "Anything I try to play, anything I'm feeling, I can just put it through. And I pick it up so easily. I guess I was meant to play it." By Jill Duff-Hoppes - Orlando Sentinel


"Scene and Heard with LizM"

OB: How long have you been playing together? How did you guys meet?

RJ: We have been going for about close three years…Chris, my guitarist and I met back in high school, and the drummer and I were high school band mates, it’s been a blessed deal to play with your best friends…Jason owns his own recording studio I knew he played bass so, I asked him if he wanted to join.

OB: What is your influence in your music?

RJ: Everything and anything old that grabs my ear. My main influence is Chris Wallone the guitarist. I like the old classics that not
everyone knows, old classics are really good and the melody is what grabs my ear. When I find an old classic that I like I change the melody line and change the lyrics for a modern day feel. T bone Walker, Louie Armstrong, songs are a few of the musicians that grab my ear. With originals I will come up with a melody line and then I go to Chris for the lyrics.

OB: How long have you been playing the harmonica?

RJ: Close to six years. My Granddad gave me a harmonica one night as a gift, I put it away for a while, and then one night I got bored and I started playing it. I would play Hugh Feely to just hear how the harmonica can be played with music and I would listen to true harmonica players who know what they were doing. Then my junior year of high school and realized this is what I really want to do. I would practice for four hours.

OB: You have played all over the US, many different venues and with different bands what would you say has been your greatest experience?

RJ: I would have to say I have three things that have really stuck out in my years, my first would be when I played in Canada in downtown Toronto which was great, I also got to play the National Anthem for National Football, but I really enjoyed playing with head lining acts at Lake Eola for an Aides Benefit show. I can remember after we finished playing an older guy came up to me with tears in his eyes and said “it is great to see you guys go up there and do your thing without a care in the world just enjoying what you do and expressing yourselves” the fact that he had tears in his eyes while he was talking to me and knowing that our music moved him that way, is what makes it all worth while.

OB: If you could play anywhere in the world where would it be?

RJ: You know I would love to play in Italy that would be the best thing. I have already played in Paris, so it would be great to play in a little villa in Italy.

OB: What was it like playing in Paris?

RJ: In Europe the harmonica is considered a legitimate instrument and to see the crowd get so involved in the instrument is a great feeling. It’s not like playing here in the states where everyone goes to a show and thinks the harmonica is a toy. Paris has an appreciation for the instrument. It was great to go there and explore that type of scene it’s a big change and yeah it was a blessing.

OB: What would you say has been your biggest challenge while on the road?

RJ: You mean besides the money, lol. I would have to say it ‘s making it on time to the venues. It’s hard when we have to drive overnight to get there in time for sound check, It ‘s a blessing to have great guys that are just happy with a nice hotel and a good meal. Keeping it fun for the guys is a challenge for me. See, I am the one that keeps the business sense on it, I set up the shows, and my guys are at the point where they can just show up and play so, keeping them happy is my biggest concern.

OB: Do you have anything you would like to say to the readers or fans?

RJ: It’s always going to be the people who comes to see us it’s all about them, I think people like our music cause they can come and express themselves because that is what we do on stage. We do have a new member to the band her name is Rachel Masri who will be singing backing vocals. If you haven’t seen her yet, please go to our website rjharmanmusic.com check the dates and come out and support. - Orlando Bands


"UU Dome (Norton Buffalo"

"On my recommendation alone and sight unseen, Norton allowed my star 16 year old harmonica student, RJ Harman, to open for the second set. He played a solo version of "Amazing Grace" that, once again, caused all the jaws to drop in the room." - Gloria's Music


"New Artist In Music Scene 08"

This weeks highlight act was Longwood’s own, R. J. Harman, a new artist to the Central Florida music scene.

“ I like to go by my stage name, Rosco Johnson”, says Harman, “…though it changes nightly (laughing).”

R. J. was born in Fairfax, Virginia, and later relocated to Central Florida with his family: “My family has moved a lot.”

“I’ve been playing music since high school, and have been playing the harmonica for about 4 years.” Harman claims, a brief stint of time considering the level of musical genius he displays on such an unlikely instrument.

Having heard of Rainforest and its open mic night through some friends, Harman decided to check it out. “I just walked in one evening and before I knew what was happening, I was invited to play with another local act on stage.”

Since his impromptu debut, Harman has frequented Rainforest, every time delivering a stunning performance for an enthusiastic crowd.

“I really enjoy playing here,” says Harman. “It gives me a great opportunity to get exposed to different audiences as well as an environment to gain and build possible contacts.”

“We love R.J,” comments Jon, the establishment’s chef/barista. “He is always friendly and very open to whatever song request the audience throws at him.”

When asked about the success of open mic night, the owner and creator of Rainforest, David Wax commented: “I have seen a noticeable influx of business since the addition of live musical acts such as R.J.”

Harman is currently an enrolled student at Seminole Community College studying jazz music and set to transfer to UCF on two full scholarships, one for baritone performance, and the other for stuttering.

When asked about his speech impediment and how he acquired his scholarship, Harman casually replied: “I just asked, ‘Pah-pah-please let me go to college,’” he said with a laugh, “and they did.” It is clear that speech impediments did not hold this musician back from achieving his goal as a great performer.

“I really just want to continue playing music and see where it takes me, as well as educate people about the unknown capabilities the harmonica possesses.”

You can check R.J. Harman out on his website, www.myspace.com/rjharmanmusic, or at his next musical appearance at Rainforest on September 27.
- Aaron Holcomb


"UU Dome (Norton Buffalo"

"On my recommendation alone and sight unseen, Norton allowed my star 16 year old harmonica student, RJ Harman, to open for the second set. He played a solo version of "Amazing Grace" that, once again, caused all the jaws to drop in the room." - Gloria's Music


"L I V E B A N D S : R . J . H a r m a n"

In our past newsletters, we often talked about old versus new: the old music industry versus the new, old music technology versus digital. This month, we have a chance to write about a very new band doing very old music, the blues, great justice. The RJ Harman band, now the must-see band in Orlando, appeared to come out of nowhere.
We were first introduced to them when playing in the Central Florida Blues Challenge
last October and then again at Jeff Willey’s Chuluota Blues Bash last November.
Both performances were a treat--truly fun to watch and hear. These guys take the blues
and give it a strong edge that would make even ZZ Top fans take notice. My initial impression after hearing how enjoyable these guys are is where have they been hiding? Now I’ll give you the answer. RJ Harman, winner of the 2009 Florida Harmonica Championship, is the frontman, lead singer and, naturally, harp player. Like the other members of the band, he is real young, They are all in their twenties. He is a local musician, growing up in Longwood where he still lives. Harman starting getting serious about music in high school where he met and became friends with guitar player Chris Vallone, and formed a band. He also was in the High School Band with John McCall. After
high school everybody explored different paths. Vallone joined several successful bands including Rouse, a folk rock/indie band. Two years ago, Harman and Vallone got back together to form the nucleus of the RJ Harman band. That produced an album called Just Blues . Last year they had a change in their lineup when the original drummer and bass
player left town. The rhythm section was replaced by John McCall from high school days
on drums and Jason Gloria on bass. (Gloria, a Full Sail graduate, has his own production
company Diatonic Productions.) Whatever it was, something has clicked with the new combination, and continued to improve with these guys to where now people are taking notice. A new album called Bottlecaps is coming out soon. Now having said all that.
Go hear them. The RJ Harman band’s next gig in this area is Friday, January 29 at Tanqueray’s in downtown Orlando. You will have a fun time listening to and watching
these guys. Once you have checked them out let us know what you thought. We’ll pass
it on. Visit one of these sites for complete information: http://www.rjharmanmusic.
com/Welcome.html http://www.myspace.com/rjharmanmusic

- Bruce Anderson


"L I V E B A N D S : R . J . H a r m a n"

In our past newsletters, we often talked about old versus new: the old music industry versus the new, old music technology versus digital. This month, we have a chance to write about a very new band doing very old music, the blues, great justice. The RJ Harman band, now the must-see band in Orlando, appeared to come out of nowhere.
We were first introduced to them when playing in the Central Florida Blues Challenge
last October and then again at Jeff Willey’s Chuluota Blues Bash last November.
Both performances were a treat--truly fun to watch and hear. These guys take the blues
and give it a strong edge that would make even ZZ Top fans take notice. My initial impression after hearing how enjoyable these guys are is where have they been hiding? Now I’ll give you the answer. RJ Harman, winner of the 2009 Florida Harmonica Championship, is the frontman, lead singer and, naturally, harp player. Like the other members of the band, he is real young, They are all in their twenties. He is a local musician, growing up in Longwood where he still lives. Harman starting getting serious about music in high school where he met and became friends with guitar player Chris Vallone, and formed a band. He also was in the High School Band with John McCall. After
high school everybody explored different paths. Vallone joined several successful bands including Rouse, a folk rock/indie band. Two years ago, Harman and Vallone got back together to form the nucleus of the RJ Harman band. That produced an album called Just Blues . Last year they had a change in their lineup when the original drummer and bass
player left town. The rhythm section was replaced by John McCall from high school days
on drums and Jason Gloria on bass. (Gloria, a Full Sail graduate, has his own production
company Diatonic Productions.) Whatever it was, something has clicked with the new combination, and continued to improve with these guys to where now people are taking notice. A new album called Bottlecaps is coming out soon. Now having said all that.
Go hear them. The RJ Harman band’s next gig in this area is Friday, January 29 at Tanqueray’s in downtown Orlando. You will have a fun time listening to and watching
these guys. Once you have checked them out let us know what you thought. We’ll pass
it on. Visit one of these sites for complete information: http://www.rjharmanmusic.
com/Welcome.html http://www.myspace.com/rjharmanmusic

- Bruce Anderson


Discography

CD "No Refunds" Released 2012

CD " Black Coffee" Released 2013

*96.5 in studio performance on Zoo radio show

* Documentary "Play it like a train whistle" Directed by Sean Schools. "A 20-minute documentary following RJ Harman, a 22-year old harmonica player who overcomes personal and professional challenges"

Photos

Bio

2012 Central Florida International Blues Challenge Winners!!

2012 People's Choice Award Central Florida International Blues Challenge!!

2011 Central Florida International Blues Challenge Winners!!

2011 People's Choice Award Central Florida International Blues Challenge!!

"The way Harman plays the harmonica is the way BB King plays his six stringed beauty with such soul and quickness into his face-melting jazz riffs that sounded like they were screeching out of a Gibson Les Paul, not a tiny harmonica." FSU World of Music

Richard "RJ" Harman has been playing the harmonica for six years and has already won numerous music awards including a full endorsement with Hohner harmonicas, Currently the Two time harmonica champion of the Florida Harmonica Championship, 2011 People's choice Award and over all Winner's of the Central Florida Blues Challenge, and 2012 Semi Finalist at the International Blues Challenge.

His style is fresh and vibrant; he brings a youthful passion and a love of the Blues, Funk, Jazz, and HipShaking music to the stage.

Harman started performing by himself and hiring out musicians to play for him. He is now noticed as a renowned professional jazz and blues harmonica player at the age of twenty one and has graced the stage with such performers as Jason Ricci, Lupe Fiasco, Motion City Soundtrack, Rachel Goodrich, Joe Filisko, Phil Wiggins, Ian Walters, Rev Paytons Big Damn Band, Jp Soars and much more. RJ has also been featured as one of the best young harmonica players.

RJ is currently playing professionally around the United States and based in FL; he performs with the band, RJ Harman & Company.

Bands RJ has Opened for and Performed with include:

Robert Cray
Zach Deputy
Buddy Guy
Lupe Fiasco
Motion City Soundtrack
Kaleigh Baker
Reverend Payton's Big Damn Band
Jason Ricci
Rachel Goodrich
Ben Prestage
Thomas Wynn and the Believers
King Bee
Carlos Del Junco

Some of his accomplishments:

* Won the 2010 Florida Harmonica Championship
* Won the 2009 Florida Harmonica Championship
* Won Best Technical performance at the Florida Harmonica Championship
* Opening act at the UCF Arena for Lupe Fiasco and Motion City Soundtrack
* Sarasota Blues Festival
* Hampton WV Blues Festival
* Florida Music Festival
* Tampa Blues Festival

Band Members