The summer concert schedule at the Amphitheater has something for country fans, indie rock fans, folk fans, bluegrass fans, and then there's Ben Harper, who himself offers a little something for everyone. Harper, who has become known for his eclectic style as a musician, mixes blues, soul, rock, reggae, and folk to create an expansive musical resume, sure to impress even the biggest skeptics.
After releasing a limited edition record with folk multi-instrumentalist Tom Freund in 1992, Harper secured a record deal with Virgin Records and released his debut album Welcome to the Cruel World in 1994. For his third album, The Will to Live, Harper introduced his backing band The Innocent Criminals. Harper went on to record with the band as well as going solo and in 2005 met members who would go on to become part of his new band, Relentless7.
For many years Harper has been synonymous with Jack Johnson, with whom Harper has toured frequently in the past. In actuality, Harper met Johnson at the Santa Barbara Bowl when a then unknown and unrecorded Johnson gave Harper his demo tape. Harper forwarded the tape on to his producer J.P. Plunier, who eventually went on to record Johnson's debut album.
Harper's latest musical endeavor, finds him billed solo for the new album Give Till It's Gone, which debuted on May 17. For his tenth studio album, Harper collaborates with some of the music industry's biggest names. Ex-Beatle Ringo Starr co-wrote and palyed drums on "Spilling Faith" and "Get There from Here", while "Pray That Our Love Sees the Dawn" features Jackson Browne. The album has a bluesy, alt-rock sound, which leads off with the single "Rock N' Roll is Free." Not surprisingly, the single has an upbeat rock and roll sound.
Whether you're a "Steal My Kisses" super fan, or down with Harper's activism, or maybe you just dig good rock and roll, odds are you'll be down to get down with Harper this summer at the Amphitheater.