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>> A HARDWORKING MAN TAKES HIS EXPERIENCE TO THE STAGE page 2
JP Harris and the Tough choices

 JP Harris & The Tough Choices are busting out of Nashville with some real country.

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Date published: 1/24/2013

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It's a unique background, one that sets Harris apart from pretty much every other modern-day country singer. In a genre filled with multi-millionaires who drive nice cars and live in large houses, Harris is just like the rest of us: blue-collar and broke, with the need to make friends with the people who watch his shows. Once the final note is played, he usually climbs offstage and walks into the crowd, eager to swap stories and share drinks with 100 of his newest buddies.

"There are small moments when you feel like a rock star," he admitted. "You'll play a music festival where there's someone with a golf cart to drive you around, and you're like, 'Yes! I've got my sunglasses on at 6 p.m., drinking a beer in a golf cart while someone else drives it.'

"But country music is meant to be people's music, and it's more about the personal connections you make.

"Having a gig fall through and playing a backyard party instead, where you spend the night hanging out with cool people and then crash on their couch--that's what makes this thing real," he said. "Fame is disgusting once it becomes exclusive, because people are placed on a pedestal, and the whole point is to make them seem unattainable which is counterintuitive to me. Country music stems out of bluegrass, old-time mountain music, barn dances and square dances and all those other events that would bring a community together, just to give people an excuse to kick their heels up and forget their troubles. If I bring that kind of music to a modern-day audience and leave out the community mentality, then I'm going against the whole point of the music that I play."

Andrew Leahey spent his early 20s herding apples and picking sheep.


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What: JP Harris & The Tough Choices When: Thursday, Jan. 31, at 8:30 p.m. Where: Hill Country BBQ, 410 Seventh St. NW, Washington, D.C. Cost: Free Info: hillcountryny.com; ilovehonkytonk.com