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Ben Harper: 'Both Sides' of the Story

Ben Harper in Studio on World Cafe - 06/23/2006

Blending together an array of musical styles and influences, singer/guitarist Ben Harper has carved out an unusual and exciting 12-year career. Accompanied by his backing band The Innocent Criminals, Harper skillfully combines acoustic folk, blues, funk, soul, and hard rock on songs like "Steal My Kisses" and "Suzie Blue." Ultimately, however, his most impressive feat lies in his ability to always sound like himself, no matter what genre he's occupying.

Inspired by classic blues, folk, soul and reggae, Harper began playing guitar at an early age, eventually settling on the acoustic slide approach that would become his trademark. Constant gigging around his native California brought him a record deal, and his debut album, Welcome to the Cruel World, followed in 1994. Harper's third album, 1997's Will to Live, was the first to introduce his backing band, The Innocent Criminals.

With his newest release, the double-disc Both Sides of the Gun, Harper aims to showcase, as the title might imply, the dual nature of his musical personality. The first disc is composed primarily of folk-driven acoustic numbers, while the second finds him exploring rock-oriented territory. This segment originally aired on June 23, 2006.

Copyright 2006 XPN

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David Dye is a longtime Philadelphia radio personality whose music enthusiasm has captivated listeners of World Cafe® since 1991. World Cafe is produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania.