Harris said it was very exciting and thrilling to win a Grammy in 2003; yet, his life hasn't been dramatically changed. Harris seems unaffected by the awards. "People don't come up to me that much," said Harris. "I'm pretty anonymous, which I like." He received more attention for the work he did for Ms. Jones, even though he has been playing for over 15 years. The two are still good friends who play on each other's albums. Jones sings background vocals and plays piano on one song on Harris' last album, While the Music Lasts. This past February, the two performed together at a benefit. According to Harris, the hardest part about his association with Jones is trying to define himself as his own artist and not just as a talented songwriter.
Harris will be performing at the Goldhawk in Hoboken on Wednesday, Aug. 17 at 9 p.m. This isn't his first time at the Goldhawk. He played there in 2003 at the Writer's Hang with Scott E. Moore. That year he also performed at legendary Maxwell's. Harris said he likes Hudson County a lot. "It feels more like a college town or a small town," said Harris. "It feels like I'm out on the road."
Harris began playing guitar professionally at 17 and also plays the piano, although he gave up on that to focus on guitar. He has written over 70 songs for the five albums with the Ferdinandos. Growing up, Harris was influenced Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman, Duke Ellington, Bruce Springsteen and especially Bob Dylan. "He [Dylan] was the reason I started playing guitar and writing," said Harris. He considers Time Out Of Mind and Love and Theft, both by Dylan, two albums that influenced his songwriting. Harris said that being a better musician helps speed along certain aspects of songwriting, but no amount of experience can trump the value of inspiration. According to Harris, he always received support from his family.
Harris' new album, Mineral, will be released in January 2006. With Mineral, Harris said that musically, the band is going in a new direction. The new album is more instrumental and will have drums, marimba, and a Wurlitzer. "I've never made an album like this before," said Harris. "My other ones were guitar-driven. It's less guitar driven and mellower."
According to Harris, the new songs are ballad-driven. "I'm trying to play mellow songs with the same intensity that you would play a rock song," Harris added. When asked how he would describe the music on his new album, Harris called it Bohemian. "People always want to know what kind of music you play, and it always falls short of the mark," said Harris. "It's [Bohemian Music] music by people who like hanging and don't mind thinking." Right now Mineral is Harris' favorite album. "I always like the newest best," said Harris. "I feel like I've fixed all the things I've done wrong."
Harris plans on performing for a long time. In September he will be touring in Japan for 10 days. Then in October and November he will be playing every Monday at 10 p.m. at the Living Room, 154 Ludlow St., in Manhattan. The Living Room is a live music venue that holds about 80 people. "It's [Living Room] fun and informal," said Harris. "You can try things out there. There is real intimacy." Harris is starting his own record label, Secret Sun Recordings. The first album to be produced will be Mineral. Eventually he would like to work with other artists and possibly produce them. He also would like to write music for films. But for now, Harris is happy playing the music.
Jesse Harris will perform at the Goldhawk, 936 Park Ave., in Hoboken on Wednesday, Aug. 17 at 9 p.m. For more information please visit: www.jesseharrismusic.com .