It doesn’t get more Americana than Josh Harty, who is appearing at Shakespeare’s pub in Sheffield tonight.
The North Dakotan singer-songwriter’s father, both a preacher and the police chief of his boyhood small town, was also Harty’s music mentor.
“I was either going to jail, or to hell,” Harty muses. That kind of humour is at the centre of his music including latest CD release, Nowhere.
Together with his father, Harty says he “sang in just about every church, Lions Club, Elks Club, and senior citizen centre within 200 miles of Fargo.”
When his parents moved out of the area when Harty was in high school, his devotion to the school’s music programme and its director led him to relocate to an apartment with his older brother, five years his senior. 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.
His warm, woeful voice is buoyed by charismatic guitar playing which appeals to fans of country, blues and folk traditions.
Support for the evening is provided by two fine local acts, William Barstow and The Silver Darlings.
William has been recording and playing live throughout the country for the past five years with The Dead Delta and now with The Ruby Jacks.
Throughout this period he has compiled a selection of songs that don’t fit into the framework of a hardened rock band but require a more intimate setting. His bluesy/folk solo material has been compared to the likes of Jeff Buckley and Neil Young.
The Silver Darlings are a varied collection of musicians playing the songs of singer and guitarist Andy Whitehouse.
Downbeat romantics, hopeless optimists, they wander forth glass in hand.
The band have been likened in turns to Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Karl Wallinger, Jacques Brel and Warren Zevon.
In 2011 they released debut album Souls.
It is described as having persistent themes of “helpless optimism and an endless pilgrimage in search of human contact”.
Entry to the pub in Gibraltar Street, Shalesmoor will be £6 on the door. Doors open 8pm.