“Heather and the Monkey King w/Prof. Hill’s Think System”

June 14, 2019

 

I ask you, what kind of name is that for a band? I answer= a “UNIQUE” one.

First of all let me say I am a true NERD, so I know one when I see one…and these guys are my people. When I was in high school I kept my nose in a book…they called me a “Book Worm”, because the word NERD had not yet evolved. 

 

Ben and Stephen Harper started the show with the name “Prof. Hill’s Think System.”

Their music is perfected to the nth degree. It is crisp, it is clean, it is PURE. Every note is important to them, every note must shout out and let you know it was there. I have not seen anything like the absolute perfection of their super skilled guitar playing.

Stephen said their older brother, who was sitting at the front table, is the person who taught them everything they know. The brother shouted out, “it took 10 minutes”. 

There was a table of 10 sitting right up front and it was dubbed the “Harper Table”.  

 

It was one of those rare nights for me at The Listening Room when it is fully packed and I know only a handful of those in the audience. It is refreshing to see other music lovers there to appreciate the music and respect the artists. These professional, super talented people  deserve to be honored by your attention as they perform.

 

Ben and Stephen started the show off with a song by The Cure, called “Friday I’m in Love”. I have never heard it played better. It is refreshing to see how excited they are to play the music and to feel the music. This kind of musicians cause a contagious feeling in the room and its difficult to stay in your seat.

 

I am a big Beatles fan…my heart skipped a beat when they did a Beatles medley. It wasn’t “Hey Jude”, “Let it Be”, “All You Need is Love”…it was other, perhaps less familiar ones, including “In My Life” and ”For No One”….The lyrics are heartbreaking to me  in “For no One” 

 i.e. “Your day breaks, your mind aches. You find that all the words of kindness linger on. When she no longer needs you.”

 

Those lyrics are on the same wave-length as the U2 song “Running to Stand Still” that followed the Beatles medley…it says, “And so she woke up, woke up from where she was lying still, Said I gotta do something about where we’re going.”

 

Ben and Stephen spoke about how they love Sting. It was so familiar to me as my musician son loves Sting as well.

 

At one point in the night, Stephen declared 50 is the new 16….perhaps he was speaking to the maturity or lack of maturity of musicians as a whole. Maybe he was speaking of himself? I don’t know but I understand.

 

The Harper brothers went on to play an original about a night in Paris..(beautiful song)

They played “No Matter What” …they said this song is supposedly written by Badfinger…(but it is their belief it was written by Paul McCartney).

 

There was a short break  followed by Ben and Stephen marching to the stage, then being joined by Heather Harper and David White. Heather is the wife of Stephen Harper and she is a fabulous singer. David played the bongos…he is a wonderful drummer.

 

“Heather and the Monkey King” suddenly became a full 4 piece band…but I was curious as to who exactly was the monkey king…it turns out it is Stephen. He said he was once called a monkey boy, and he wanted to elevate that name…he thought about Monkey Man, but he wanted something more grandiose..so he settle with Monkey King….I think it fits well.

 

Once the stage area had all members there, it turned to a full jazz …soulful sound.  With this group of 4; some playing, some singing and all feeling the music from their heads to their toes, the place lit up. I loved watching Ben Harper when he bobbed his head to the rhythm almost as though he was in a hard ROCK band. He was feeling it to his bones. Then there was a time Stephen was playing so many hot licks, Heather had to get out her fan and try to cool his guitar.

 

When Heather first began singing “Fever”…it got HOT in The Listening Room. That girl can sing and her moves are perfect with the rhythm of the music. I started looking around when I heard that voice…I was looking around for Peggy Lee… as she sang…”Never know how much I love you, never know how much I care…” When ya put your arms around me, I get a fever thats hard to bare…you give me fever”….

 

That song is about as passionate and sultry as they come.

 

One of my favorites was an original  called “56 Miles out of New Orleans” She said they stopped due to a storm and she saw the sign saying 56 miles to New Orleans…so why not make that a song? I am glad they did….it is a great song!

 

It was a fun night when they played and sang the Jungle Book song. Later Heather did “Stormy Weather” and she did a fabulous job. It was followed by “Cry Me A River” and finally “Bye Bye Blackbird”.

 

Just when I thought things could not get better….I was proven wrong again and again.

This was a unique experience and I was so happy I was there to see it. I can tell you this crowd came to be entertained and these fabulous musicians did not disappoint.

Everybody there was exhilarated and happy they came.

 

THAT!…  my friends, is what real entertainment should be!

 

Thank you Heather and The Monkey King with Prof. Hill’s Think System”

Thanks Ben Harper, Stephen Harper, Heather Harper and David White for a great night!

Thank you Jim Pennington for bringing yet another fabulous show for us to enjoy

Juanita Smith

Music Mom

 

 

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