• Big Harp Shines at Hotel Cafe

    By J. Brown

    Sometimes the best concert experiences are instances in which a band takes you by surprise because you hadn’t planned on seeing them, and it must be said that accidentally stumbling upon musical awesomeness is one of those few unrivaled feelings that put a smile on my face. The band Big Harp in particular fits this description. I had never heard of this husband-and-wife duo but they were one of many performers at the Hotel Café in Los Angeles recently and their set was outstanding.

    Big Harp knows how to put the swagger in indie-rock and alternative-country and their live performance was raw, passionate, and the deep-throated vocals of lead singer Chris Senseney practically bring to mind nostalgia for the Wild West or the haze of alcohol-rich saloons. Senseney’s voice just has this wonderfully gritty authenticity that simply infuses the band’s ballads with the perfect sound, whether it’s a more down-tempo acoustic tune or just plain rocking out hard.

    The other half of Big Harp is Stefanie Drootin-Senseney, who is an incredibly skilled bass player and the audience was in awe of her complete dominance of an instrument that perhaps receives less fanfare than others. Notably, there is a love story behind the wonderful music behind Big Harp. Drootin and Senseney were in different bands that were touring together and they fell in love, had kids, and started a band of their own.

    Big Harp – “Nadine”

    The much beloved Saddle Creek Records releases Big Harp’s music and they perfectly described their sound as follows:

    The songs range from gun-in-her-garter saloon narratives and paranoid soul struts to intimate ballads of quiet resignation and open-hearted love songs. The recordings are raw and un-fussed over, with the spirited energy and honest emotion of live performance. 

    Big Harp’s debut album is White Hat, which was released in September of 2011. At the Hotel Café the band mostly played new tracks that they are currently in the process of recording. The new songs were captivating and definitely a lot edgier and more rock-based than their first album, so new and old fans alike will find much to like in their next release, which can’t come soon enough.

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