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Hank Harris Takes Listeners to FantasyLand
By MuzikMan
(more articles from this author)
2002-11-17
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"Many artists are content to sound like someone else instead of who they are, not Harris. You can hear who Hank is in his music."

When it comes to musical diversity, Hank Harris has cornered the market. In a craft that has so many competing for the same thing and so few are successful and able to offer something new and different, this man accepts that challenge and overcomes the obstacles, sidestepping the stereotypes that prevail in his chosen endeavor to construct a musical "FantasyLand." Many artists are content to sound like someone else instead of who they are, not Harris. You can hear who Hank is in his music.

WMA: "FantasyLand"

Rather than talking about what his plans are in the future or about something that he did in the past, he focuses on today and is open to conversation about his latest project "FantasyLand." When I asked where he would like to be in five years from now, he commented, "Five years? You really think we have five years after this election? I just try to improve something or everything I do each day. I intend to advance and better myself as a sentient; and the music and my life should get better, more interesting and more alarming."

While Hank plays in three different musical configurations and does some recording and soundtrack work to make money, he likes to hike, camp, run, read, explore photography, and write, as well as delve into his music with the attitude of an excited wide eyed explorer in a different land. He calls South Dakota home and the beautiful land is a constant source of inspiration on a musical and spiritual level. He makes a concerted effort to stay away from TV, cell phones or any other artificial gadgetry that would upset that connection he has with the outdoors and the all-important musical process that it initiates.

WMA: "15 Minutes"

While recording, Hank and his group strive for the spontaneity of a live performance. Harris says that "it's like writing a good song. Time just stands still." I agree that the best music does put father time into a personalized time capsule with the stamp of the artist. For instance, on "FantasyLand" there is a track called "Genuine Artificial" which emphasizes a not so positive view of American life in the present tense. In the same breath, he said that, although, the record was started well before 9.11, the songs have taken on a new relevance with regard to the fact we've reached an era of having too little and too much simultaneously. He makes the point that the original title was overtly intense. Whether it is intentionally intense or filled with humor, Harris puts a spin on his lyrics that always pull and tug at you forcing you to think and laugh aloud.

"Though the record was started well before 9.11, the songs have taken on a new relevance with regard to the fact we've reached an era of having too little and too much simultaneously."

With producer Jimmy Goings and horn arrangements by Jeremy "Napoleon" Hegg, Harris manages to keep his personality and musical identity intact. Although he had not worked with horns before, he also realized that Jeremy was very empathetic to his vision, thus creating an instant bond and success in the studio. Even though he could have written the horn parts himself, he felt Hegg brought a certain vibe and authenticity to the table that was infectious. So he went with the flow and the result was magic.

WMA: "Spirit Moves"

To sustain impartiality in the studio, Hank recalls, "With my first two records, Jimmy attempted to bring out all the elements of my music that would appeal to other singers seeking material. This is in addition to songs that would be beneficial for my own use. The sessions for Fantasyland were a decidedly collaborative effort between us. The players on this disc are the best in Sioux Falls. When the record was mastered, I got a phone call from one of the engineers on the west coast asking me where I found the money to hire all the top L.A. session cats. Well, my guys are world class too! Just listen to the grooves."

www.hankharris.com


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