the Michael Harris Band
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the Michael Harris Band

Band Folk Acoustic


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"Michael Harris Band"

Our Rating: **********

As the year begins to close, we can start compiling our lists of the best albums of the last twelve months. When that time has come, the Michael Harris Band's "Open Letter" ( CD will stand proudly among them. From start to finish this is a breezy yet highly emotional effort, a personal masterpiece that combines the best elements of jazz, acoustic folk, soul, and alternative rock.

This is no trendy indie effort, just back-to-basics light rock played with love and bittersweet tears. To say that I have been obsessing over this record would be an understatement; I am completely under its spell, from the engaging shuffling beat of the title track to the mournful, contemplative strings of "September Song." In fact, I have probably listened to "September Song" more than any other tune on my iPod this month. It's a song about accepting death, the loss of a loved one, and wondering what happens to people after they die. Do they continue to caress us with their spirit, and do they take their rightful place in the skies above? It is touchingly beautiful with a healing vocal performance from Harris.

Harris is a gifted songwriter who probably isn't aware of how good he truly is. At first, "Fresh Water" seemed to address the plight of the hungry and dying populations of Africa, then it hit me that it's probably about how the government treated the survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

There are touches of jazz, namely with the contributions of Michael Moynahan on trumpet and the late Michael Rose on saxophone, but they don't dominate the mix; instead, they simply provide spicy illumination. More importantly, the tunes are memorable and filled with life and positive vibes. We need more artists like this, definitely.

author: Adam Harrington
- Whisperin &

"The Michael Harris Band"

Open Letter

Dai Box Records

Michael Harris sings from the point of view of the Everyman. Neither cocky nor angst-ridden, Harris could be your neighbor; your co-worker; or even your brother. There is a simplicity to his lyrics that is endearing. At the same time, the emotions he expresses and the stories that he writes about are channeled from deep within. The track that best expresses what Harris is about is probably "Superman," which confesses his vulnerability without drowning in self-pity. In "Superman," Harris is trying to save a failing relationship. "I try to save the day/Try to do everything that you say/Try to fulfill the dreams in your head/Lost my cape along the way/Yeah, Superman won't be flying today," Harris sings, his voice of regret soaring through the clouds.

But they aren't called the Michael Harris Band for nothing. Harris has surrounded himself with a group of versatile and highly talented musicians. "Alice" is folky pop with sizzling horns and a robust beat. "If I Could" has a slower tempo but it's an evocative acoustic ballad with moody jazz textures. On the haunting "September Song," teardrop cello drifts through the song's profound feelings of loss.

Harris has a big voice that is remarkably disciplined. He doesn't try to reach high notes that he can't. On "Fresh Water," Harris recalls Peter Gabriel at his most soulful.

Kyrby Raine - INK 19 Magazine -

"The Michael Harris Band - Open Letter"

Songs of love and death sung with soulful passion a la Peter Gabriel and Vertical Horizon.

Having lost my three closest and oldest friends to strokes in the past four years, the heavy sense of loss in Michael Harris’ voice and words in “September Song” is painfully relatable. “Are you sitting here with me/Easing my pain so lovingly,” Harris sings, his voice trying to hold back the tears. Given that the album is dedicated to the memory of his mother, there’s no doubt as to whom the words are about. But even as a sorrow-stricken cello haunts its intimate, reflective arrangement, “September Song” is for healing, not mourning. It’s for after you’ve accepted a loved one’s passing, when you begin to wonder if their spirit is nearby. It is incredibly moving. When you hear the melancholia rise in Harris’ vocals when he croons, “Do you remember how he played?”, it’ll linger in your memory.

Some critics have compared Harris’ voice to that of Peter Gabriel and Matthew Scannell of Vertical Horizon. There is merit in both although Harris’ music has far more substance, lyrically and sonically, than Vertical Horizon’s. Artistically, Harris’ explorations of jazz, acoustic rock, and world beat can be more closely linked to Gabriel but without any dance elements. Overall Harris prefers a slow groove, and when he is on, he can quite spectacular, especially on the sultry “Blue Horn”; the pensive “Why?”; and the soaring “Superman,” the second best track on Open Letter after “September Song.”

“Superman” isn’t about the comic-book character but a guy who has succeeded in doing everything for his girl except the biggest thing, which is preventing their relationship from crumbling into pieces. “Try to fulfill the dreams in your head/Lost my cape along the way,” Harris confesses as the Man of Steel walks away in defeat.

Open Letter is exactly that: It’s Harris’ open letter to the world. And we are blessed for having the opportunity to read it.

Written by: Michael Sutton - CD


Open Letter - LP - 11 original tracks - Release July 14, 2006.
The following tracks are streamed at different sites:

If I Could
Open Letter
What Am I Suppose To Do
Fresh Water



"So what kind of music do you play?" Has become the 64,000 dollar question for Michael Harris and the Michael Harris Band. For most artists it would be an easy question to answer - Blues, or Jazz, or Hard Rock, but for a band whose roots can be traced back to the rice fields of Japan - well all bets are off. With acoustic songs infused with traces of rock, pop and blues, singer/songwriter Michael R. Harris has touched audiences internationally with his warm and rich voice, heartfelt lyrics and themes that explore the human condition.

Born in Colorado, Harris – an Army Brat, spent his childhood in Germany, Kansas and Maryland where his family settled. The seeds for Harris’s lifelong connection to music were planted during his childhood
by singing in church choirs, playing in the youth orchestra and listening to classic performers like Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington. His eclectic tastes grew to encompass artists ranging from Johnny Cash to Youssou N’dour.

Harris went to Emerson College in Boston and moved to Los Angeles to start a career in television. He became a successful producer working for various networks including E! Entertainment Television,ABC and NBC. But he was never too far from music, occasionally sitting in on trumpet with a friend’s band and writing lyrics on the side.

At the same time that Harris committed himself to fully pursuing his music an opportunity to live abroad
came into play. So Harris, a Black-belt martial artist, traveled to Japan for a year to master Kendo, or
Japanese fencing. That year turned into six with Harris following his musical passion. He sang in two Blues
bands and formed a band of his own. He cut his teeth performing in Tokyo and the surrounding area. He
wrote songs, played guitar and honed his craft, going on to perform in places as diverse as Indonesia,
Portugal and Prague.

Returning to LA in 2004 Harris quickly went to work in forming a new band. Through old contacts and after a
few changes the Michael Harris Band was formed. The band is made up of professional musicians who have
worked extensively in LA and abroad. The core members are Carl Byron on keyboards, Michael Barsimanto on drums, Roberto Montero on lead guitar, Austin Nicholson on bass, and Farzin Farhadi on saxophone . With this talented line-up Harris has been able to stretch his eclectic nature. The band can seamlessly shift gears moving from an upbeat Rock tune to a Basso beat groove, to a Jazz tinged ballad.

The Michael Harris Band’s cohesiveness and musicianship helped them in the creation of “OPEN LETTER” their very eclectic debut CD release in 2006.