ON Saturday, November 17th Larkin’s in Garrykennedy, County Tipperary will host North Dakotan singer-songwriter Josh Harty live as part of the Irish tour to promote Harty’s new album Nowhere. Josh Harty is a messenger, a North Dakotan songsmith whose lyrics fill the dark spots between the lines of our lives. Nowhere is his latest album and if the record’s reception and his performance of the new material are signs to go by Harty is poised to go a long, long way.
It doesn’t get more Americana than Josh Harty. His father, both a preacher and the Police Chief of his boyhood small town, was also Harty’s musical mentor.
“I was either going to jail or to hell,” Josh Harty muses. That kind of humour, that hell-bound hope, is in the centre of Harty’s music.
Together with his father, Harty says he “sang in just about every church, Lions Club, Elks Club, and senior citizen center within 200 miles of Fargo.” When his parents moved away while Harty was a high school senior his devotion to the school’s music program led him to stay on and move in with his older brother. They lived near the Empire Tavern in downtown Fargo and for the impressionable young musician, watching the cast of characters come and go was like going to songwriting college. The hard life, lies and perseverance in the face of both, surface to the top of Harty’s music like a beer mug ring left behind on a wooden bar top. Those in the upper Midwest who’ve watched Harty grow since moving to Madison, Wisconsin in 2005 know what he can make happen live. His warm, poignant voice is buoyed by charismatic guitar playing. He can hush a bar room.