Ric Harris is a guitar player from North Carolina. Earlier this month, Harris released his debut album that finds the performer weaving in sounds of Chicago blues with his unique vocal style and guitar playing. “Open for Business” is a collection of 14 songs written and performed by Harris. “Open for Business” is characterized by Harris’ smile-inducing enthusiasm, ardent guitar work and humor.
ABOUT RIC HARRIS
When audiences hear musicians play, one of the first things they might consider is where performers honed their skills or by whom have they been inspired. Harris’ songs convince listeners that he has some Chicago blues in his background, which is true. Only that Chicago blues sound did not come to Harris’ work in a way that was exactly direct. Instead, the North Carolina musician saw an ad in Guitar Player magazine and went to Chicago to check out the Old Town School of Folk Music. Afterward, Harris saw Ira Sullivan and Joe Diorio at the Jazz Showcase and moved to Los Angeles to attend the Guitar Institute of Technology. After his time at the Guitar Institute, Harris came back to Chicago and formed a jazz group.
Harris began to play well-known clubs in Chicago, including Rosa’s and Buddy Guy’s Legends. Harris had technically retired in 1991 to raise his children, but playing in jam sessions in Chicago allowed Harris to revise his playing style. Harris’ musical exploration led him to re-think the way blues are created (not just through improvisation) and also led to his weaving in elements of Southern rock.
Harris played integral roles in the creation of his first CD. In addition to the guitar work, Harris also provides vocals, production work and completed arrangements.
“Open for Business” showcases the perhaps circuitous route Harris took to realizing his dream as a professional musician. The recording shows his dedication and enthusiasm. Songs like the title track, “Open for Business” and “Before We Turn Out the Light” spotlight Harris’ style.
“Open For Business” by Ric Harris
From the opening guitar chords to the last, the tight rhythms of the guitar and bass sound as if they have come straight out of the last 50 years or so. The instrumentation is lively and it is worth listening to the song multiple times just to hear the way the guitar and bass work together. The effect is masterful and helps to make the song one of the most memorable ones on the album.
“Before We Turn Out The Light” by Ric Harris
The lead guitar’s screaming opening notes work to accent the swaying blues that underscores this song about late night coupling. In its own way, “Before We Turn Out The Light” makes the blues come to life in a manner different from “Open For Business.” A slower version of the blues, the song succeeds on its nuances and the bigger sounds that might encourage dancing in people given to doing so. The song, like the title track, displays Harris’ inspirations and has that lived-in feel which matches Harris’ voice. His line “Nothin’ to do but to treat you right” sounds authentic in terms of emotion and in relation to the blues. He is forthright and earnest in his lyrical expressions. The lyrics and the way Harris brings them to life make audiences think of what inspired the song. Also, the organ, as a showcased instrument and as a part of the ensemble, sends a throaty vibration throughout the song.
Harris has created a set of original songs that encourage repeat listens. His dedication to the musical forms that inspire him allow audiences to get in on the fun Harris has playing his songs. While all 14 songs are worth listening to, the two mentioned here, plus “Viagra Falls” are musically interesting and sometimes funny.