Harpdog Brown, Canadian vocalist and harmonica player who had been active in Canada’s blues scene since 1982 has passed away. died on January 7, 2022. However details regarding his cause of death is still pending.
A three-time Maple Blues Award winner as harmonica player of the year, Brown was a regular on the festival circuit and appeared several times on The Dream Cafe stage in Penticton.
His 1995 album, “Home Is Where the Harp” won the prestigious “Muddy Award” and was also nominated for a Juno Award. Brown remains the only Canadian, to date, to win the Portland-based “Muddy Award.”
Brown was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and was adopted into a family with a musical mother who played slide guitar. He began playing guitar at about age 15 in a local garage band. He later played in a duo that opened for performers in comedy clubs, and followed that with solo gigs as a singer and guitar player. In the early 1980s he answered an ad for a vocalist in a traveling road band. After six weeks on the road, he quit and put together his own traveling blues band.
Harpdog got his stage name at a gig in Kitsilano Beach during the fall of 1989 at a place called Momma Gold’s. According to Harpdog, at the end of the show, two audience members began shouting “Harpdog! Harpdog!” He liked the name and went on to use it as his stage name. He eventually made it his legal name.
His first independent release was Beware of Dog in 1992. Two years later he released Home is Where the Harp Is, that won him the Muddy Award for Best North West Blues Release, from the Cascade Blues Association in Portland. He is still the only Canadian to win it. Other awards include four Maple Blues Awards for Harmonica Player of the Year; a Fraser Valley Music Award for Blues Artist of the Year; and a Hamilton Blues Society Lifetime Award.
But it wasn’t about the awards for him. It was about the music and people for whom he played. Harpdog’s music was a mixture of classic, electric Chicago and funky New Orleans blues with a dash of Memphis spice.
Brown is survived by his two sisters. A previous marriage ended in divorce.