[Auburn Citizen Newspaper]

"Bluesy Bluegrass"
by Erica Geller/The Citizen

Americana musician Keith Harden's voice may be mournful, but it's smoother than a blues-hardened heart and warm enough to melt the day's pain away. Along with his ever-present harmonica rack, Harden's blues-bred voice and finger-pickin' acoustic guitar are all he needs to put a crowd at ease. Singing the blues may be Harden's mainstay but he works to please the crowd with Bob Dylan covers, maybe even a Rod Stewart request or two.

“I do my best. I do have a limit. I don't sit there and play all the Jimmy Buffett things,” Harden said.

“Is it real or is it fiction/Can you feel the contradiction,” a line from one of Harden's band's greatest hits reminiscent of a bass-heavy rock 'n' roll ballad with some electricity thrown in, is just how the audience might feel when they realize they've walked into Parker's to hear Harden, albeit solo. With a sound that could have gone platinum long ago, Harden is a real treat to find on the central New York scene.

On his solo songs Harden's trademark twang often comes from the dobro, a slide guitar with a metal heart that resonates long after the song is over. Harden's music bears the bluegrass influences from his life in Champaign-Urbana, Ill., where he opened for the legendary likes of Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Bobby Blue Band, Dr. John, Delbert McClinton, Mighty Joe Young, Big Daddy Kinsey and more. Harden's homeland is also shared by bluegrass legend Allison Krauss and the “leader of the band” himself, Dan Fogelberg.

Since moving upstate, Harden produced a new CD in 2001 titled “Precious Stone.” His newest solo blues CD “Illinois Blues” from 2002, once again is a mixture of Harden's originals and songs from masters such as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Muddy Waters, Skip James and Janis Joplin. In 2005, Harden won the Downstate New York Blues Association Acoustic Blues Challenge and advanced to Memphis to perform in the International Blues Competition in January of this year.

A solo artist when in central New York, Harden can be seen playing gigs at Parker's, local wineries, Beale's Street Cafe and the Dinosaur BBQ, in Rochester as well as a scattering of pubs and bars. In tonight's gig, he plans to play “some acoustic blues stuff from the masters and do some finger-picking folky tunes, a few Dylan tunes, a couple of Steve Earle.”

After the night gets going, he plans to get the party started with a few Beatles tunes, too.

What: Keith Harden, blues-American artist
When: 8:30 to 11:30 tonight
Where: Parker's Grille and Taphouse, 29 Genessee St., Auburn, NY

This article was written by Erica Geller
and originally published in the Auburn Citizen Newspaper, December 7, 2006

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