BiographyDan began playing music with the trumpet at the age of 8...by 1976 he had mastered acoustic and electric guitar and percussion...by the time he turned 18 he was out playing harmonica professionally throughout the Western New York area! Dan's first mentor was legendary keyboardist Joe "Groove" Madison. Joe tutored Dan on both the diatonic and chromatic harmonicas.
Groove was a member of the Apollo Theater house band and recorded with many blues and jazz luminaries, such King Curtis and Mel Torme.
Eventually, Madison and Harper played steady gigs together at numerous popular venues throughout Western New York from the mid 70's though the early 90's.
By 1977, Dan began commercially recording at B.C.M.K. Studios under the direction of Atlantic recording artist Tom Calandra (a member of the late 60's Buffalo band, Raven).
During this time, Dan recorded with Tom Calandra, Joe Madison, Sandy Konikoff (formerly of Joe Cocker, Leon Russell, The Band, Taj Mahal, etc) and many other seasoned and talented musicians.
The best known (and profitable) of these recordings was a piece written by Tom Calandra for radio personality Danny Neaverth entitled "Danny Moves My Fanny", which to this day remains the most successful commercial jingle recorded in WNY. Some of these recordings have been filed as historic materials with the Smithsonian Institution.
Around the same time Dan began performing with Buffalo blues master, Count Rabbit.
The lineup was exceptional. Fronted by Rabbit, and sidemen who had included Joe Madison, members of the Rick James Band, James Brown's Band and many others; among them a fledgling Dan Harper.
Count Rabbit proved to be a huge influence on how Harper would perceive and interpret the blues.
In August of 1980 Dan released his first vinyl 45 titled Let Me Come Inside b/w Leaving for Austin.
Late that following year a second vinyl EP titled Charlene released.
Dan began performing with the Dan Harper Band, playing such top venues as the Belle Star, Longbranch Saloon, Imperial Garage, McVan's and the Lance Shield.
= Dan opened for and jammed with artists such as Guitar Jr., Gatemouth Brown and Muddy Waters, throughout the New York/Tri-State area.
At the end of the 80's, after living and performing in Florida, Texas, Arizona and Canada, Dan formed a blues fusion group called Rock E. Blues Band, which disbanded in 1994.
They were one of the first steady gigs at the Essex Street Pub, anchoring a new venue for upcoming musicians such as Annie DiFranco, who had her debut there.
In 1991 Dan formed Action Recording Studios and decided to concentrate on collecting and digitally premastering hundreds of his past recordings from the 1970's to the present.
A highly respected music producer, Dan has documented classic artists such as big band vocalist Martha Flynn (formerly with Tommy Dorsey, Glen Miller and Paul Page), blues master Count Rabbit, and folk icon Bob Beckley.
By late 1995, Harper was ready for a somewhat more conservative setting and founded the Harper Brothers with guitarist Phil Smith and keyboardist Steve Czapla. Their act played to capacity crowds across WNY and performed weekly shows at Ellicottville Inn and Anacones Inn for the next several years. Dan's exceptional harmonica playing would bring him top honors for the best blues harp at the Buffalo Music Awards in 1999.
In 2001 Dan began performing regionally once again, playing harmonica percussion, and singing lead vocals with The Designated Hitters. They played a string of successful shows at such venues as Merlin's, The Elmwood Lounge, Anacone's Inn, The River Grill and the Tudor Lounge. Their ties are still strong, and even though they disbanded in 2006, Dan continues to perform with them on occasion.
Dan composed and performed an original score for the 2001 dramatic production of Roberto Zucco, produced by Dan and Melisa Shanahan (Torn Space Theatre), performed at Adam Mickiewicz Library & Dramatic Circle.
Dan has played large forum gigs, among them Hogarosa, the Niagara Falls Blues Festival and 100,000 Artists for Change.
A staunch believer in the Buffalo blues, Dan has helped many local club owners create and grow their business. Looking for a seasoned musician to do just that, Mixology knew to hire Dan Harper with Magic Show as their house band, where they played successfully until the club was closed due to a fire. Most recently, Dan was instrumental in helping Market Bar establish their ground as a true Buffalo blues bar, also becoming their house band. As in the past, and knowing Dan Harper's reputation, other performers began to want to go to play there also.
Currently Dan performs with Magic Show, founded in the fall of 2009. The group's members are Steve Czapla (keyboards), Mike Bellman (guitar) and Chris Potoczak (drums). Dan continues to teach harp, perform, compose and record original music, and is owner/operator of Action Recording Studios.
Dan has managed to stay in touch with many of his long-term fans via social media. His Facebook page helps keep the communication lines going. He's in touch with old fans and announcing upcoming gigs and his latest endeavors. This website is also helping him introduce his talents to a new and much larger group of fans around the worldâ€¦and to think, it started years ago with a vinyl 45!