While still in his teens, he started playing juke joints and dance clubs throughout the South. His performances became legendary-he was “tapped” by talent scouts, signed and taken to Atlanta, Georgia in 1964 to begin his recording career at age 18. He had a series of nine singles (45 RPM records) released during the mid to late 60's on obscure southern labels. He tried several restarts in new home bases including Chicago in ’65, New York in ’66, Miami in ’68 and New Orleans in ‘69.
During his stay in Miami Harman was befriended by fellow record collectors Henry Vestine, Alan Wilson and Bob Hite of Canned Heat, who persuaded him to move to California, promising to help him get re-started. Harman made his move to SoCal in 1970, and true to their word, Canned Heat insisted on Harman’s Icehouse Blues Band as their opening act on many big shows. Icehouse Blues Band became established at venues such as The Golden Bear, The Ash Grove, The Troubadour and The Lighthouse, which all booked real blues artists.
James Harman was soon in demand for his own shows, as well as backing every living blues artist who was touring without a band. He also opened literally hundreds of shows for artist who did have their own band. Icehouse Blues Band was a real working blues band. In 1978 James tired of using band names and started billing his act as James Harman Band.
Some alumni include Phil Alvin, Bill Bateman, Gene Taylor, David “Kid” Ramos, Michael “Hollywood Fats” Mann, Stephen Taylor Hodges and Jeff “Big Dad” Turmes. All of these players did long stints in the Harman Band. James is often cited as a band leader who gave many now famous bluesmen their start. Harman stopped ground touring in 2000 and now only takes blues festival dates around the world. Nathan James has been James Harman’s regular band guitar player since 1997 when he was 19 years old... he turned 37 in 2015 and he's still Harman's favorite! Nathan is also James’ recording engineer and co-producer on his own projects, as well as projects they produce for other artists.
James Harman’s side project: Bamboo Porch Revue features guitarist Nathan James playing rollicking, low-down, juke-joint blues over James Michael Tempo’s Afro-Cuban percussion, Troy Sandow’s sparse, pulsating acoustic bass and Marty Dodson's masterful drumming. Through his long career starting in the early 60’s James Harman has built up an enormous song catalog and had 20 of his original songs used in movies and television. He has been nominated for 20 pestiferous W. C. Handy (Blues Foundation) awards. He was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, and he is the harmonica player of choice on many ZZ Top releases, as well as live with them on many international TV shows. James Harman has had 32 releases, on many different labels; he currently tours every spring, summer and fall, working in as many as 29 countries. Harman was nominated for a Grammy Award, and won two Blues Music Awards for his contribution to the Blind Pig release, "Remembering Little Walter" in 2014. He is a one of a kind song writer, producer, musician, showman, vocalist and internationally known bluesman. Don't miss him when you see him advertised in your area.