While pursuing a goal, a person may find himself in a new location. An article in Guitar Player about the Old Town School of Folk Music inspired Ric Harris to leave North Carolina and make his way to Chicago. A few months later, he moved to Los Angeles and attended the Music Institute. After returning to Chicago, Ric formed his own jazz group and appeared in the area until 1991, at which time he retired and raised his children. Ric has returned to the music scene in Rockford, not Chicago, with a new vision, one inspired by artists such as Gary Moore, Dickey Betts, and Tommy Castro.
The jam sessions around Chicago helped Ric to redevelop his playing, finding the work of artists, such as Mark May, Matt Schofield, and Coco Montoya, to be more compelling because they combine tradition with a new approach to the blues. The jam sessions led Ric to consider the blues as something that is defined by more than improvisation. His compositions merge the improvisation with melodies and arrangements often associated with the works of the Allman Brothers Band, making the solo a part of the song, not the focus of it.
Ric took on additional roles in addition to that of lead vocalist on his CD, Open For Business, that he released in January of 2019. Not only did Ric write all of the songs on the CD, he was also responsible for the arrangements and the production of the project. With Cary Roberts on bass and Jim Semmelroth on drums, Ric Harris and The Heat Merchants are taking Rockford by storm. Enjoy what you hear and let Ric know what you think.