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Harris shows his musical badass side

Atwood Tavern, Cambridge, Mass., October 16, 2018

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

J.P. Harris may be a self-described "badass," doubtlessly more so in a previous life than he is now, but he sure put it to great use when it came to making traditional country music.

The Alabama native has a deep deep, somewhat smoky voice that took charge of the numerous honky tonkers he would play. A chunk of them - "When I Quit Drinking," and "I Only Drink Alone" - deal with one of country's traditional themes. In the case of Harris, he has lived it, saying he had dealt with alcohol and drug problems in the past.

Harris sure made the songs sound good, even if that's not where he's at today.

So did his band, particularly ace guitarist Justin Mahoney, who's from Newfoundland, Canada, and pedal steel player Thomas Bryan Eaton. The burley looking Mahoney went steely and twangy often, with Eaton doing the same. They played off each other on a few occasions as well.

Not everything was honky tonk. Harris threw in a few ballads from his latest release, "Sometimes Dogs Bark at Nothing," a nice change of pace.

Harris displayed a sense of humor in telling his stories. But he came off a bit annoyed or angry at times, such as when he lashed out an unnamed reviewer from an unnamed publication who did not want to review his album because of not liking the subject matter. He had a few choice words for him and in other tales as well.

Maybe he's not quite as happy where his career is as where he thinks it ought to be, but one also got the feeling that Harris wasn't always all that serious with his complaints.

In fact, at least one of his stories - about running away from home at 14 and never coming back - was down right sad. He managed to write a song about it, which he presented to his mother.

Harris certainly has had his personal ups and downs, but his bark may not be as big as his bite. Maybe he's badass today in a different way - musically. And this kind of badass is most welcome.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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