By Tyler Denslow
When RJ and I were in middle school, we frequently shared our dreams and aspirations of becoming musicians and performing in front of thousands. Just then was RJ getting into blues and learning the basics of the Harmonica while we attended Jazz class together at Rock Lake Middle School. Not but just eight years later, on August 16th, 2009 RJ Harman became the Florida Harmonica Champion after taking home Florida’s 4th annual Harmonica Championship’s first place trophy.
I met RJ Harman when I was in the sixth grade and was always impressed with the talent that he possessed. I was amazed when I realized he played more that one instrument that in fact he played almost every brass instrument they offered at my school, and not only did he learn how to play them, but mastered them. Eventually I started getting lessons from RJ for trumpet and got to know him very well. I will never forget the day he brought in his harmonica to the practice room and showed me some basic tunes he had been fooling around with. Eventually, RJ started focusing just on harmonica and seemed to be very passionate about it. In high school, RJ started playing with various different groups and formed several bands. One of the groups he started, a group known as “Cold Funk Fusion,” played all over Orlando for most of RJ’s high school career. They even placed in several battles of the bands and flew up to Solid State Records headquarters to record an album and talk about a potential record deal. However, things eventually fell through with the band and not everyone shared the same passion as RJ did. Harman started performing by himself and hiring out musicians to play for him. He is now noticed as a renowned professional jazz and blues harmonica player at the age of twenty one and has graced the stage with such performers as Jason Ricci, Lupe Fiasco, Motion City Soundtrack, Rachel Goodrich, Joe Filisko, Phil Wiggins, Ian Walters, Rev Paytons Big Damn Band, Jp Soars and much more. RJ has also been featured in the Orlando Sentinel Newspaper in a full two page article.
Since I have moved away to college, I haven’t had the chance to see RJ perform in some time, so I decided to make a trip to Orlando to go and see him. On Tuesday March, 8th RJ Harman and Company performed at Wall Street Plaza in downtown Orlando. As they approached the stage, I was taken by complete surprise when the crowd started going nuts. People were cheering his name and clapping as loud as the possibly could. As the band started their set, all I could listen to was RJ blaring his blues harmonica with perfect style and rich tone- the notes flew off the stage by the thousands. The way Harman plays the harmonica is the way BB King plays his six stringed beauty with such soul and quickness. I was thoroughly impressed and could not even begin to comprehend how blown away I was by his face-melting jazz riffs that sounded like they were screeching out of a Gibson Les Paul, not a tiny harmonica. RJ designed the mic that he uses for every performance, it is hooked up to a pedal with certain affects on it. He would sometimes put a distortion and delay on it, almost imitating the sound of a guitar. It was an awesome performance and was awesome to see an old friend perform such a solid set.
|Work Cited can be found on main page entitled "Live Jazz"|