Bandleader James Harman blows blues harmonica at The Palms on Friday, May 31

James Harman will bring his band to The Palms Playhouse, for an evening of rollicking blues on Friday, May 31 at 8 p.m.
James Harman (pictured) was recently nominated for Traditional Male Blues Artist at the annual Blues Music Awards, and will bring his band to The Palms in Winters on Friday, May 31 at 8 p.m. ($20 general/$12 students).

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Award-winning harmonica player and singer James Harman will bring his band to The Palms Playhouse, for an evening of rollicking blues on Friday, May 31 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 ($12 with student ID). Harman grew up listening to the blues and soul music being played on the jukeboxes and radios in his home town of Anniston, Ala. He honed his singing chops in the church choir until age 16 when his family moved to Panama City, Fla., where he found himself surrounded by like-minded blues lovers. Wearing a fake moustache, young Harman slipped into a still-segregated black nightclub to see Little Junior Parker’s show. He says he was “totally overtaken by the blues” and soon became a regular, known as “that boy who sings like a man” by patrons. While still in his teens, Harman started playing juke joints and dance clubs throughout the South. On the strength of his performances, he was tapped by talent scouts, signed and taken to Atlanta in 1964 to begin his recording career at age 18. He released a series of nine singles in the mid- to late 1960s on regional labels. He tried several restarts in new home bases, including Chicago in 1965, New York in ’66, Miami in ’68 and New Orleans in ’69. During his stay in Miami, Harman was befriended by members of Canned Heat, who persuaded him to move to California, promising to help him get re-started. Harman made his move to Southern California in 1970, and true to their word, Canned Heat insisted on Harman’s Icehouse Blues Band as their opening act on many big shows. Icehouse Blues Band became established at storied blues venues such as The Golden Bear, The Ash Grove, The Troubadour and The Lighthouse. Harman soon was in demand for his own shows, as well as backing blues artists touring without their own band and opening hundreds of other shows. By 1978, he had tired of using band names and started billing his act as James Harman Band. Alumni include Phil Alvin, Bill Bateman, Gene Taylor (all of The Blasters), David “Kid” Ramos, Michael “Hollywood Fats” Mann, Stephen Taylor Hodges and Jeff “Big Dad” Turmes. Through his long career, Harman has released 33 albums and built an enormous song catalog. Twenty of his original songs have been used in movies and television. He has been nominated for more than 20 prestigious W.C. Handy/Blues Music Awards – including one this year for Traditional Blues Male Artist – and won two, was nominated for a Grammy, was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, and been ZZ Top’s harmonica player of choice for many of their recordings and live TV performances. Electro-Fi Records released Harman’s most recent album, “fineprint,” in 2018. Harman and guitarist Nathan James (who’s in the James Harman Band) produced the album, which includes special guests Kid Ramos, Gene Taylor and Jeff Turmes (of Mavis Staples’ band). Harman’s previous release, “Bonetime” (Electro-Fi, 2015), earned him five plum Blues Music Awards nominations: Song of the Year, Album of the Year, Traditional Album of the Year, Harmonica Player of the Year and Traditional Male Blues Artist of the Year. Tickets are available at Armadillo Music in Davis, Pacific Ace Hardware in Winters, Davids’ Broken Note in Woodland, online via The Palms’ website and Eventbrite, and at the door if not sold out. For more information, visit palmsplayhouse.com and jamesharman.com.  ]]>

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