Jason Hawk Harris experienced his musical coming of age one fateful day in middle school when a friend played him Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Indeed, fate seems writ large in Harris’ artistic journey. He comes from a long line of musicians; a tradition that all but guaranteed a both passionate and vexed relationship with the guitar. Though classically trained, he considers it perhaps the greatest instrument ever created (and occasionally wants to smash his Martin over the head of its inventor).
As a young man armed with a healthy prodigality, however, Harris refused to confine his ambitions to six strings. While his peers were trying to learn stick-shift, Harris was writing choral pieces and obsessing over American avant-garde composers like George Crumb. These broader horizons led him to earning a BM in musical composition. But after graduation, the dynastic power of his forebears reasserted its strength, and he returned to his guitar. He went on to produce the first three albums of Americana/Roots band, The Show Ponies. He’s played with bluegrass titans like Noam Pikelny and Michael Daves. The marquees have gotten bigger and the tours longer. Still, these days Harris often finds himself casting a wishful eye to the past. He laments the lost opportunity to collaborate with his uncle John Harris, who passed away in 1991. “He wrote sad country songs about heartbreak, love and shame, “Harris says, “and he sang them like it was the last thing he’d ever do.”
Taking up his uncle’s mantle, Harris’ songs offer nuanced explorations of life’s vagaries; matching determined honesty with vivid imagination. His upcoming record fuses robust musicianship with a poetic vision inspired by magical realists like Charles Williams and Haruki Murakami. His music, Harris explains, shares in their “audacious assumption that the physical and spiritual occupy the same plane of existence.”