Come hear didgeridoo at festival
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Hello there Natchez, my name is Peter D. Harper from the band Harper and Midwest Kind. I hail from Perth in Western Australia, and I tour with my Detroit-based band Midwest Kind.
While I have had the pleasure of performing in Mississippi before, this will be my very first performance in Natchez, and I’m really looking forward to meeting you all. I guess you could describe my music as blues and roots with a world music twist. I sing, write my own songs and play the harp and the didgeridoo. I started playing the harmonica at 10 years old, so I guess you can say I’ve got the hang of it now. I first started my musical career performing and playing the euphonium and trumpet in the Salvation Army Brass Band. My harp playing has been featured on over 2000 commercials and films, which is a nice way to earn a living. I love to perform in the recording studio, but the live shows are where all the magic happens. Now, I’m guessing that some of you may not know what a didgeridoo is. Well, I can tell you that it’s a very cool wind instrument made from the branch of an Australian eucalyptus tree. It makes an eerie haunting droning sound, which really adds to the sonic texture of my music. It is an instrument that the Australian Aborigines use during their corroborees (celebrations). It’s a sound I grew up with, so it feels like home — the essence of Australia every time I perform.
When I added the didgeridoo to the more traditional blues instruments, I found the deep woody qualities and its haunting drone seemed to enhance the emotional quality of my stories. The didgeridoo is a spiritual and healing instrument. It seemed blues music accepted it with open arms. I owe my life to a tribe of nomadic Aborigines who saved my father and I from starvation when we were trapped at The Fitzroy Crossing (Western Australia), in between two fast-flowing river torrents. There were no cell phones, no one to ask for help. We were in the middle of the outback, which means desert for us Aussies. We only had food and water for two days. The Aborigines supplied us with enough food and water to last us until the flood had subsided, which took close to two weeks. I feel my music is my way of giving back to these wonderful and generous people.
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I tour worldwide and have performed in 16 different countries. My Detroit-based band Midwest Kind consists of Will Rideoutt on lead guitar, James Norris on bass guitar and Mario Copeland on drums. These guys are amazing musicians and fun to make music with.
Some trivia for you all, but not so trivial for me: I’ve been chased by a 14-foot crocodile and had my surfboard bitten in half by a great white shark. I know it sounds unbelievable, but it’s the truth.
Happy to say I lived to tell the tale. I’ve been fortunate enough to have received 14 Blues/World music awards from the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom and Australia. I’ve performed for the Queen of England, been inducted into the Blues Museum Hall of Fame in Canada, received a gold record, played harmonica many times with a 90-piece orchestra, mostly with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in Australia, which is always a mind-blowing experience. I’ve also had the pleasure of performing harmonica with Journey and blues legend Muddy Waters.
I hope you will all come to the show at 7 p.m. Friday at the Natchez Performing Arts Center. Admission is $25 ($10 for student K-12, adult with K-12 student, college and active military with current ID). I will also be conducting a didgeridoo presentation for kids and adults at 10 a.m. Saturday at Jefferson Street Methodist Church at 511 Jefferson St. I’ll be happy to answer all your questions about my home land and the mysterious instrument called the didgeridoo.
Beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Waverly Plantation at 790 U.S. 61 S., the festival will present Rossini, Puccini and Martinis, with much-loved performances from the talented artists in town rehearsing for the upcoming stage events. The relaxed atmosphere of listening to beautiful music while sipping a favorite cocktail is a highlight for festival-goers, a must-not miss.
At 7 p.m. Thursday at Trinity Episcopal Church on South Commerce Street, Jonathan Levin, pianist and a beloved artist, will return for another season to include Kern, Porter, Gershwin and other music from the four flags which flew over Natchez in an event titled “The 300-Year Journey.” A cash bar will be available before the event at Natchez Historic Foundation beginning at 5:30 p.m.
For tickets to all events, please visit natchezfestivalofmusic.com, the Natchez Visitor Reception Center, telephone 1-800-647-6742 or get them at the door for all events. There is a cash bar at each event. Come for the music, stay for the experience.
Peter D. Harper is a musician from Perth, Australia, who will play at this year’s Natchez Festival of Music.