One-man band Dave Harris
(1956 -), one of the West Coast’s best bluesmen, has busked on the streets of Victoria for nearly 30 years.
He was born in Columbus, Ohio and grew up in Toronto. He moved to Victoria in 1976 and began busking in 1977. An early band, Treebeard, consisted of Dave on vocals/guitar/bass, Ben Henry on drums, Pete Irving on guitar/bass and Jeremy Rogers on keyboards. Treebeard played weekends at the Churchill-Bastion Inn from 1979-80 for $15 each a night.
From 1980-81 Harris played with a blues band called Juke along with Chris Blue on vocals/harp, Tony Wilkinson on piano, Jim Killeen on bass and Steve Peabody on drums. He was busking the whole time, adding fiddle and later mandolin to his guitar and harp offerings.
In 1981 Harris formed Blue Sky Band with Rhonda Broadfoot on vocals/ acoustic guitar and Allen Keirstead on mandolin/clarinet/guitar, adding Joe Figliola on bass/guitar and Ken Koshman on drums. Blue Sky Band band brought its country/folk/rock sound to dances and bars.
After Rhonda left the band the group became a rock band with Jeremy Rogers, Pat Darcus on bass and Roger L’Huillier on drums. The band covered The Doors, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jimi Hendrix, performing original songs as well. Various other members playing between 1982 through 1988 included Jim Sinclair on bass, Mike Kraft on guitar/banjo, Brian Sheedy on drums, Hal Todd on drums, Rob Thompson on bass and more.
Special Delivery was Harris’ busking band throughout 80’s. He played with Jim Sinclair, Mike Kraft, Jeremy Rogers and other musicians including Clark Brendon and Joe Figliola. The group also played as The Shmoes, known for their silly antics, funny hats and general zaniness.
From 1988-90 Harris and Mike Kraft played as a duo, working full-time around the island and on the Gulf Islands. They started playing with drummer Gary Thompson in 1989, in various short-lived blues bands. Harris toured with Ken McCoy from 1992-95 playing modern country. He formed The Hotheads with Gary Thompson, Bob Miron on bass, and Newman Corey on guitar/vocals. After Newman left they became Slim & The Dusters from 1995-2007 then played with Slim & The Deuces with John Hunter on drums, George Fenn on bass and Gary Preston on keys/vocal/2nd harp until late 2012. He also plays with Davelectro & The G-Men with Gary Thompson & George Fenn.
Harris started his one-man band act in 1995 and gradually built it up to include steel body guitars, harp, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, foot operated drums and fotdella (foot operated bass). He has recorded many one-man-band CDs along with a number with various bands). He recently released a book Head, Hands & Feet – A Book of One Man Bands in 2012. It is the first major study of the burgeoning one-man-band scene