To recognize individuals or bands from Edmonton and area that have made a significant musical contribution to the Edmonton blues community and beyond, over a period of not less than 20 years.
(b. 1962, Edmonton, Alberta)
“I saw him perform this summer and he stole my heart….old-fashioned blues … 100% bluesman … the real deal. I champion him to be in the Edmonton Blues Hall of Fame.” —Nancy Nash, 2015 Edmonton Blues Hall of Fame Inductee
Harpdog Brown is an “old-school” harmonica player, who was born in Edmonton in 1962 and is now based in Vancouver. When asked about his real first name he proceeds to pull out his wallet and place all his cards on the table, and all the cards read Harpdog (one word) Brown. Next question!
Harpdog’s life-changing moment was seeing James Cotton in concert at the S.U.B. Theater in Edmonton in 1979. “I had to learn how to play the harp, so it was obvious, build a band. I had to, there wasn’t anybody looking to hire a young wanna-be harp player,” said Harpdog “and where does one learn? From listening to records and trying to repeat what you hear”. With some guidance he found himself first picking up licks from people like Slim Harpo and Jimmy Reed, and slowly that moved up the line to Cotton and Sonny Boy, and eventually both “Walters”(Big Walter Horton and Little Walter Jacobs). His respect for Muddy Waters was so profound that he named his son McKinley after him (Muddy was born McKinley Morganfield). But at the end of the day, his main admiration is that of Little Walter Jacobs and John Lee Williamson, “the original Sonny Boy”.
Harpdog moved to the west coast in 1987, not in pursuit of a music career, he moved out west for the weather, so he says. By 1989, he found himself putting together a band again. He recorded his first demo at former Edmontonian piano-master Willie MacCalder’s SNUG Studio. This was the beginning of The Bloodhounds.
Over the years, Harpdog has returned to Edmonton to help raise his son, and to create work as he does everywhere he goes. During that time he employed local blues players such as Jimmy Guiboche, Graham Guest, Grant Stovel and Ben Sures, along with many more. He was the front- man in the Sunday Night House Band at Blues on Whyte for a long run, back when Jim Good was managing the club. Harpdog also got involved with CJSR Radio, producing an early morning show on Fridays for over a year. He came back a few years later with a new show, Dog Trax, that featured one blues artist for the full, noon-hour show.
Harpdog has received several awards including three consecutive Maple Blues Awards for Harmonica Player of the Year, the Fraser Valley Music Award for Best Blues Artist of the Year, and the Muddy Award for the Best North West Blues Release from the Cascade Blues Association in Portland. Among his many nominations, he has been nominated three consecutive times for Best Blues Artist of the Year by the Western Canada Music Awards and he received a Juno Nomination for the best Blues Release in Canada. His latest CD Travelin’ With The Blues received a very warm response from Charlie Musselwhite: “it really is some great smokin’ blues. Every tune is a winner! It was recorded the old school way…right off the floor, with fine old tube-amps and the works.”
The aforementioned quote sums up Harpdog’s approach to the blues and life. It is a pleasure to watch him perform and enjoy his onstage persona. Harpdog is the ultimate road warrior and he has made his reputation working throughout Canada, the United States and Germany. It is an honour and a pleasure to induct Harpdog Brown into The Edmonton Blues Hall Fame for 2017.