Harpe is well known for his marine art: Chesapeake skipjacks
, stately lighthouses and watermen. Born and raised in Annapolis, Maryland,
Harpe was always attracted to the marine environs for inspiration having
been around boats and the Chesapeake Bay all his life. However, Harpe has
never been content to pursue only marine images.
In 1995, Harpe introduced his lifetime's passion of the blues and of guitars into his art. He painted a series of portraits of famous blues musicians: Blind Boy Fuller, Lonnie Johnson, Memphis Minnie, Blind Lemon Jefferson and more. In this same vein, he recently completed an assignment to create a dozen illustrations for a book about Delta Blues that is due to be published in 2008.
Harpe's passion for the blues began at a young age. He learned to play the guitar when he was 12 and inspired by Elvis began as a rock & roller. By the time Neil was in high school, he had discovered the blues! At the age of 17 he perused the Goodwill store every week looking through piles of old 78's, hoping to uncover an old blues record from the 1920's or 30's. While his peers were listening to the Beatles, the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones, Neil was listening to the blues musicians: Blind Boy Fuller, Lonnie Johnson, Memphis Minnie and Mississippi John Hurt.
Harpe, who has owned hundreds of guitars over the past 30 years says, "I am not a collector, more of a 'Catch & Release fisherman' ". "The thrill is in having the opportunity to experience each instrument for it's unique sound and personality," says Harpe. Harpe has amassed a sizeable collection of Stella guitars and has written a book about them. Made between 1900 and 1937, they were the guitars of choice for such blues performers as Charley Patton, Willie Brown and Leadbelly. He has a website devoted to buying, selling and purveying information about these instruments: http://www.stellaguitars.com.
Parallel to his visual art career, the multi-talented artist has been an active performer all his adult life and is an accomplished guitarist, performing at many venues. Neil has performed for the Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival, Herndon Blues Festival, Smithsonian Associates, Hirshhorn Museum (in conjunction with Black History Month), Washington Folk Festival, Takoma Park Folk Festival, Northern Virginia Folk Festival, Quiet Waters Park and the D.C. Blues Festival. He recorded an LP entitled "Neil Harpe", for Adelphi Records in 1972. Harpe recently released a solo CD of all new material. Along with longtime musical partner Rick Franklin, he has also released two albums of blues and "hokum" ragtime duets.
You will enjoy Neils solo offering with guests Eleanor Ellis & Delta X.
Travelin Man * Bay
Rum Blues * Whos Been Here * K.C. Jones * Winnie the Wailer * Eagles
on the Half
Bluesmen Rick Franklin and Neil Harpe team upwith percussionist Rick Usilton to bring you the Hokum Blues - the Great blues!
Eagle Ridin Papa
* My Baby Comes to Me * That Lovin I Crave *
More great blues recorded at Patuxent Studios. Rick Franklin & Neil Harpe perform many of their favorite songs.
Joliet Bound * Stop Hanging
Around * Raidin Squad Blues * Pick Poor Robin Clean *