James Harman: Those Dangerous Gentlemens
Also in 1980, the first Fabulous Thunderbirds album came out. Suddenly all these rock guys started getting haircuts and buying thrift store bowling shirts, suits and cool shoes etc....all of a sudden everybody tried to act like they'd always been in on it. When I see Kim or Jimmie I still mess with 'em saying "Alright....you started all this crap, man....now what 'cha gonna do about 'em all?
I think it's funny to hear a southern California suburb guy talking with a phony southern accent. I remember the late James "Shakey Jake" Harris, Magic Sam's uncle, used to elbow me, point at some new white blues guy and ask, "Now where's that motherfucker from? Listen to him....he's probably form Glendale or Pasadena, but he's trying to sound just like you!" It got weird, but at least there were more gigs for blues music.
During the '80s a touring blues club circuit became a reality, so we all did well. It was great through the '80s and into the late '90s but it peaked out about 1997; it's been in decline since then. People got bored with mediocre blues cover bands and stiff drunk driving laws, plus many died off and were not replaced with a new batch of young blues seekers. Most folks started saving their money for the festivals and the clubs have thinned out. It's pretty hard to connect the dots and make a driving tour that makes any sense now, so, I fly.
AAJ: In all that time, how many records have you recorded?
JH: I started making records in 1964 in Atlanta, GA. I had nine singles (45 RPMs) out in the '60s before releasing an LP. I have thirty releases in all, some were CDs after that technology became the standard. Some have been re-released as CDs, but most were records. Also, they are not all under my name, I used band names until about 1977. I've worked as: King James and the Royals, Disciples of Blues, Soul's Disciples, Icepick James and The Rattlesnakes, Snake Doctor, HUBB and finally Icehouse Blues Band when I came to California. I used so many stupid names, until I wised-up and became myself the blues artist, not some made-up name. B. B. King gave me that advice in '72 and it still took me five more years to realize he was absolutely right.
AAJ: One source says that the earliest recording you had made with the "Dangerous Gentlemans" was 1987.
JH: OK, first of all I had an album titled Those Dangerous Gentlemens in 1987 on Rhino Records. Note it's Gentlemens on purposenot men, not man's, not anything but like the announcer at a real R&B show would say: "Ladies and gentlemens, I have-a-pleasure to ba-zent, er...um....ah....Mr. so-and-so, how 'but a roun-a-ma-clauz fer 'em, from tha whole aug-lee-ance!
That's an album title not a band name. It says: The James Harman Band and the title is: Those Dangerous Gentemens. That was just a catch phrase or watch word, just like ZZ Top, "that little old band from Texas," or J. Geils Band, "those bad boys from Boston." It's not and never has been the name of the act. It was just a little nickname for a few years. Just like this "Icepick James" thing, it's not how I book or promote myself; it's just a nickname people gave me. People tend to rewrite what they saw into what they wish it had been....your guess is as good as mine why. Anyway, yes, I did have a release in '87, on Rhino Records, but it was by no means my first album.
I've seen far too much wrong information about me and my career in print. Especially in books claiming to be about the blues scene etc. I can't stand it anymore. I wish all writers had to do the research before they could write a word. If they had just looked at my website they could have read the official bio, which is 100 % correct. I think they all just ask a few friends who read something a long time ago, written by the girlfriend of an old roommate's cousin, they had gone to school with, or something like that. In the words of the great Sid Nathan, of King Records fame: "It's a-lotta-bunch-a crap!"
AAJ: I was dumb-plussed as to why you would wait so late in your career to make your first recording.
JH: I certainly didn't. '64 baby! Do the math....I was eighteen when a talent scout tapped me and took me to Atlanta to record four songs in 1964. 1987 was twenty-three long years later and many releases over the dam. It's been forty-two years now since I became a recording artist.
AAJ: In your recording career you have been nominated for and have taken awards for your music. Which songs, which CDs?
JH: Well let's just say far too many to remember and certainly too many to list here. I'm in the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, you gotta like that. I've been nominated for eighteen WC Handy Awards. Lonesome Moon Trance (Gulf Coast/Pacific Blues) in 2003 added four to the fourteen I had from before. I'm one of the few white guys to be nominated for re-release of the year (Extra Napkins LP in '88 and CD in '98, on Rivera).