Harper Simon

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Harper Simon
Birth name Harper James Simon
Born (1972-09-07) 7 September 1972 (age 41)
New York, United States
Genres Indie rock
Occupations Singer-songwriter, music producer,
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1996–present
Labels Tulsi Records, Concord Records, PIAS Recordings
Website harpersimon.com

Harper James Simon (born September 7, 1972) is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist and producer. His music has appeared on several albums and in film and television shows. He is the son of musician Paul Simon and his first wife, Peggy Harper.[1] In 2010 he released his critically lauded self-titled solo album, which Rolling Stone called "a gorgeous collection of vintage-sounding country-folk tunes."[2] In its review of the album, American Songwriter called Harper "a real star in the making."[3]

As a solo artist, Simon has appeared as a musical guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, NPR's Morning Edition, NPR'S World Cafe and the French variety show Taratata. He has been featured in the magazines Purple, Paper, Mojo, Uncut, Clash and Rolling Stone and was on the cover of the French music magazine Les Inrockuptibles.

Division Street, Simon's second solo album, was released March 2013.[4]

Early life[edit]

Simon grew up in New York City.[5] He made small appearances in film and television shows growing up including Sesame Street where he sang "Bingo" with his father for a segment that demonstrated how to record an album. Many of Paul Simon's lyrics include references to Simon, most notably "St. Judy's Comet", "Slip Slidin' Away" and "Graceland."[6] His mother Peggy is the "silver girl" referred to in the song "Bridge Over Troubled Water."[7] The film One Trick Pony is loosely based on the relationships between Paul, Peggy and Harper.

After high school, Simon moved to Boston to study at the Berklee College of Music.[8]

Early career[edit]

In the 1990s Simon played the club circuit in New York as a solo artist with both acoustic and electric ensembles. He sometimes made appearances singing traditional folk and country songs with singer Jenni Muldaur and Robert Quine, guitarist for Richard Hell and the Voidoids. During this period, sessions were recorded with producer Don Fleming and Murph, drummer from the band Dinosaur, Jr. These tracks were never released.[9] Simon contributed music to two films by Abel Ferrara, New Rose Hotel and The Blackout, and also played guitar on Carl Perkins's last album Go Cat Go, produced by Bob Johnston and recorded at Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee.[10] He made cameo appearances in New Rose Hotel as well as in Bringing Out The Dead directed by Martin Scorsese.[11][12]

In 2000 Simon moved to London, where he played guitar and wrote for English cult band Menlo Park. Despite playing many sold-out shows and garnering considerable press, they disbanded before the release of an LP.[13]

Simon has performed as a guitarist in Yoko Ono's Plastic Ono Band on many occasions, including headlining festivals such as ArthurFest in Los Angeles and All Tomorrow's Parties in the UK. He was also a featured guest at three Yoko Ono shows in 2010—at The Brooklyn Academy of Music, L.A.'s Orpheum Theater and San Francisco's Fox Theater—where he shared the bill with Iggy Pop, RZA, Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, Eric Clapton and Perry Farrell, among others.[14]

He played guitar on Sean Lennon's album Friendly Fire and appeared in the film by the same name.[15] He accompanied Lennon on the road opening for Rufus Wainwright and the Strokes and played the Summer Sonic festival in Japan.

In 2006, Simon performed with tabla prodigy Suphala in Kabul, Afghanistan. He played on her album Blueprint and also performed at the Quantum Shift Benefit Concert to benefit the victims of the 2005 Kashmir earthquake.[16]

He played guitar on the Daniel Merriweather album Love & War, produced by Mark Ronson. The album went to #2 on the UK charts.

Simon performed as part of Blackout Sabbath, a concert curated by Rufus Wainwright, alongside Beth Orton, Martha Wainwright and Joan As Police Woman.[17] He also performed as part of a Joe Boyd-produced tribute to Nick Drake that was broadcast on the BBC. Others on the bill included Stuart Murdoch from Belle and Sebastian, Blur's Graham Coxon and Vashti Bunyon.[18]

Simon performed in the band Lavender Diamond for two shows at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles. Simon has regularly performed at the venue Largo in Los Angeles, including two residencies at the venue, and has performed frequently with Largo regulars Jon Brion, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings and Benmont Tench (Brion and Tench appear on Division Street).

Solo albums[edit]

Simon's self-titled debut album appeared in 2010. It was produced by Simon and veteran producer Bob Johnston, known for his work with Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Johnny Cash. The album featured many legendary session players including members of the original "Nashville A-Team" Charlie McCoy and Hargus "Pig" Robbins, as well as "Memphis Boys" Gene Chrisman and Mike Leech (known for their work with Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin). Lloyd Green, pedal steel player with George Jones and The Byrds was also heavily featured. Other musicians featured on the album include Marc Ribot, Steve Nieve from Elvis Costello's Attractions, Yuka Honda from Cibo Matto, Eleni Mandell, Petra Haden and Russell Simins, drummer for the band Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. It included songs co-written with Inara George, Lloyd Green and Booker Prize-winning novelist and poet Ben Okri.

In 2010, Simon performed as a musical guest on the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel Live and Late Night with David Letterman. He also performed on the French variety show Taratata.

Simon played many festivals to support the release of his solo album, including Bonnaroo, SXSW, Port Elliot, the Great Escape, the Cambridge Folk Festival, the Festival Au Désert in Mali (where he also played with Tinariwen) and the Belladrum Festival. He also toured with Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, and opened for acts such as Kris Kristofferson, Marianne Faithfull, Fleet Foxes and Brian Wilson.

The video for Simon's song "Berkeley Girl" (directed by Benjamin Kutsko) featured actress Jena Malone.

In 2012, Simon performed at the Jerry Garcia 70th birthday tribute along with Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Cass McCombs and members of Vampire Weekend and Ryan Adams Cardinals. He also performed at Petty Fest at the El Rey Theater, a benefit for victims of Hurricane Sandy, alongside members of the Strokes and the Black Keys, and played on French artist Soko's album I Thought I Was an Alien. Also in 2012, Simon sang on Steve Nieve's duets album ToGetHer and sang on Country Joe MacDonald's album Time Flies By.

Simon's second solo album, Division Street, will be released on March 25, 2013 on Tulsi Records/PIAS. It was produced by Simon and Tom Rothrock, best known for his work with Elliott Smith and Beck. It features drummer Pete Thomas from Elvis Costello's Attractions, Nikolai Fraiture from the Strokes, Bright Eyes' Nate Walcott and Mikael Jorgensen from the band Wilco, among others.

The cover for Simon's first solo album was designed by artist Tracey Emin. A video directed by Emin for a song from Division Street will appear on MOCAtv in March 2013. An interview between Simon and Tracey Emin will appear in the February 2013 issue of the magazine Purple.

Two videos directed by George Salisbury, known for his work with The Flaming Lips, are due out in 2013.[19]

Music in film and television[edit]

Songs from Simon's first album were featured in the Golden Globe-winning HBO show Girls[20] as well as ABC shows Private Practice and The Neighbors.[21] Songs from the album were also featured in the film Peace, Love and Misunderstanding directed by Oscar-winner Bruce Beresford.[22]

Selected discography[edit]

Solo albums[edit]

  • Harper Simon (2010)
  • Division Street (2013)

Other albums[edit]

  • Carl Perkins, Go Cat Go (1996)
  • The Blackout (Soundtrack) (1997)
  • Sean Lennon, Friendly Fire (2006)
  • Suphala, Blueprint (2006)
  • The Heavy Circles, The Heavy Circles (2008)
  • Songs of America compilation (2009)
  • Daniel Merriwether, Love & War (2009)
  • Soko, I Thought I Was an Alien (2012)
  • Country Joe MacDonald, Time Flies By (2012)
  • Girls (Soundtrack) (2013)
  • Steve Nieve, ToGetHer (2013)

Film and TV musical credits[edit]

  • Girls (HBO)
  • Private Practice (ABC)
  • The Neighbors (ABC)
  • The Blackout (dir: Abel Ferrara)
  • New Rose Hotel (dir: Abel Ferrara)
  • Peace, Love and Misunderstanding (dir: Bruce Beresford)

Festivals[edit]

  • Bonnaroo
  • SXSW
  • The Great Escape
  • Port Elliot
  • Cambridge Folk Festival
  • Belladrum Festival
  • Summer Sundae
  • All Tomorrow's Parties (with Yoko Ono)
  • Noise Pop (with Yoko Ono)
  • Arthur Fest (with Yoko Ono)
  • Summer Sonic Festival (with Sean Lennon)
  • Festival Au Désert

Musical performances on TV[edit]

  • The Late Show with David Letterman
  • Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live!
  • Nick Drake Tribute (BBC)
  • Taratata (France)

TV and film cameos[edit]

  • Sesame Street (1976)
  • One Trick Pony (dir: Robert M. Young) (1980)
  • The New Show (1984)
  • Saturday Night Live (1988)
  • New Rose Hotel (dir: Abel Ferrera) (1998)
  • Bringing Out the Dead (dir: Martin Scorsese) (1999)

Music videos[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]