Erin Harpe & the Delta Swingers are an American Delta blues quartet from Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Formed in 2010, the group consists of Erin Harpe (lead vocals and guitar), Jim Countryman (electric bass), Matthew "Matt Charles" Prozialeck (harmonica) and Kendall Divoll (drums).
The band won the Boston Blues Challenge, for the third time, in 2014, and attended the five-day International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee, in January 2017, and reached the semi-finals of the competition for the third time (the other years being 2011 and 2013).
They released their debut album, Love Whip Blues, in 2014. The title (and second track on the album) is derived from the band's alter ego, Lovewhip, an electro-funk dance trio.
With the location in which they formed in mind, Harpe describes the band's sound as Charles River Delta blues, a fictional genre that gave its name to a track on Love Whip Blues.
Erin Harpe grew up in Greenbelt, Maryland. Her father, Neil, is a blues musician, and although she grew up with music around her, she did not pick up an instrument until fourth grade, when she opted to play the flute. She played that for about ten years, before a young love interest, who knew all of the lyrics to "Alice's Restaurant," turned her head to the guitar. “I ran home and said, ‘Dad, you’ve got to teach me how to play it.’ After that, I was hooked. I could pick it up really easily, so I said, ‘Screw the flute’ and learned finger-picking blues guitar.”
Harpe started to play at folk festivals and coffeehouses in her 20s. She released two albums under her own name. The first, Blues Roots (2002), was a set of covers by artists such as Memphis Minnie (Harpe's main influence), Bessie Smith and Tommy Johnson. The second, Delta Blues Duets (2008), included duets recorded with her father.
She later moved to Boston and met bass player Jim Countryman, whom she married in 1999. They formed Lovewhip with drummer and backing vocalist Bob Nisi and released four studio albums and one live set. They won a Boston Music Award in 2012.
In 2010, Harpe formed the Delta Swingers quintet. Alongside Countryman and Nisi, harmonicist Richard "Rosy" Rosenblatt and slide guitarist "Sonny" Jim Clifford were brought in.
An initial attempt to disband Lovewhip to focus on the Swingers was rebuked by fans. “We tried to end Lovewhip but fans revolted,” Harpe said in 2014.
In April 2014, Harpe and Countryman, who also doubles as the band's general manager and booking agent, toured the U.K. as the Acoustic Blues Duo, with the former on acoustic guitar and the latter on ukulele bass.
After signing to Newton-based VizzTone Label Group (founded by Rosenblatt) in late 2014, the Swingers released their debut album, Love Whip Blues, on November 4, 2014. Produced in collaboration with Dave Gross, of Fat Rabbit Studios, the album features ten tracks — four originals and six interpretations of songs by Willie Brown, Lucille Bogan, Luke Jordan, William Moore and John Prine.
"Sonny" Jim Clifford left the band in the summer of 2015; he was replaced by harmonicist Matthew "Matt Charles" Prozialeck. Drummer Bob Nisi also later departed, with Kendall Divoll coming in to replace him.Present
Erin Harpe – vocals, acoustic and electric guitars
Jim Countryman – electric bass
Matt "Matt Charles" Prozialeck – harmonica, percussion
Kendall Divoll – drums
"Sonny" Jim Clifford — slide guitar
Bob Nisi – drums and background vocals
Richard "Rosy" Rosenblatt – harmonicaLove Whip Blues (2014)
Boston Blues Challenge: winners 2010, 2012, 2014
Boston Music Awards: winners 2012
Granite State Blues Challenge: winners 2016
- "The Delta Swing" (4:39) (Harpe/Rosenblatt)
- "Love Whip Blues" (3:11) (Rosenblatt/Harpe)
- "Future Blues" (4:18) (Willie Brown)
- "Good Luck Baby" (4:22) (Rosenblatt/Harpe/Countryman)
- "The M&O Blues" (5:36) (Lucille Bogan)
- "One Way Man" (4:34) (based on "One Way Gal" by William Moore)
- "Pick Poor Robin Clean" (3:06) (Luke Jordan)
- "Virtual Booty Blues" (4:07) (Harpe/Countryman)
- "Charles River Delta Blues" (4:31) (based on "Mississippi Blues" by Willie Brown)
- "Angel From Montgomery" (5:26) (John Prine)