Some Real Blues

Early this month, OC's mainstay bluesman James Harman was robbed, to the tune of eight rare guitars and thousands of vintage albums and 45s. You have to admire the taste of the thieves: there is scarcely a cooler trove of booty in the nation. But from any other angle, it's a damn shame.

Harman's loved and bought blues and R&B records since he was a little kid in Anniston, Alabama, where loving race records was a pretty solitary hobby. It isn't just stuff: these records changed his life, and they've been the texts he's subsequently used to school generations of blues players, including brothers Dave and Phil Alvin, Kid Ramos, and Hollywood Fats. The sound of West Coast blues today would be a very different and lesser thing without that barbecue-laden tutelage. The guitars, as well, have been tools for those players.

But the very hipness of this stuff may be the thieves' undoing. You simply don't see many sunburst 1946 Gibson ES350s with three P-90 pickups; red Reso-Glas Supro Resophonic or Olympic white 1963 Fender Stratocasters; or the entire catalogs of the Stax, Chess, Checker, Atlantic, Excello or Peacock record labels, among many others. If you come across a stack of blues, R&B, soul, vintage rock, or jazz records that staggers the imagination, chances are it was James', particularly if "JH," "JH+DJ" or "Jimmy+Dorothy" is written on it.

Should you see such a thing, call your local police or contact Harman at (714) 893-6309 or


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