One of the most important, celebrated cult bands of the ’70s, Glass Harp, has reunited for its first studio album in 30 years. Hourglass, to be released in August, is 16 brand-new songs convincingly updating a timeless sound.
A classic power trio and one of the original jam bands, Glass Harp is world-renowned guitarist Phil Keaggy, bassist Daniel Pecchio, and drummer John Sferra. All members sing and write, crafting a unique sound equal parts Cream, CSNY, Allman Brothers, James Gang, and Traffic with the talent and chops to transcend the comparisons and a profound spirituality to nourish the soul.
The group-penned “7 in a Box” leaps out with a charging guitar riff, blistering lead magic from Keaggy, tasty three-part group vocals, even moments of aggressive dissonance – a ripping return.
The track ends abruptly and before you can say “cool,” Pecchio’s “What’s In Your Heart” drives straight south with a delta rock groove, Keaggy’s swampy slide, and the world-class Memphis Horns adding their signature soul punch. The track goes out with a feverish jam highlighted by Keaggy’s jaw-dropping jazz-rock runs.
Next, Keaggy’s beautiful, Byrdsy “You Whisper Something” is wonderful power pop, with heart-warming harmonies, a classic melody and jangly, jangly guitar.
The sampler concludes with Sferra’s “Everlasting Light,” a smiling jam band festival of a song with warm acoustic guitars, punchy rhythm, and a soaring 3-part harmony chorus. Forget the past, this band is HERE and NOW.
Speaking of that past, Daniel Pecchio writes:
Glass Harp (Phil Keaggy, John Sferra and I) came out of Youngstown, Ohio in the early 70s. We were a power trio in the tradition of Cream and Jimi Hendrix Experience that also did an acoustic set like CS&N with lush 3-part harmonies. We honed our skills in the same cellar bar in Kent, Ohio that spawned The James Gang and The Raspberries. Through the efforts of our manager Chip Killinger, we connected with Lewis Merenstein, and with him, recorded three albums in the early 70s for Decca/MCA. We toured with Alice Cooper, Humble Pie, Yes and many more. We did venues like Fillmore East, Carnegie Hall, Winterland, etc.
Just before we did our first album at Electric Lady Studio, Phil’s mother was killed in a car accident. His older sister came for the funeral and before leaving brought Phil to Jesus Christ. By the time we finished the third album Phil decided to leave the group. Phil left the group so he could study and personally grow in his faith and be able to adequately represent his beliefs, yet there was never a conflict between group members or the record company, management, venues or fans regarding lyrical content.
As Phil grew in his faith so too did the beginnings of Contemporary Christian Music. It’s within this scene that Phil found a home. The end of the group came in 1973, but in the ensuing years have joined Phil on stage at concerts in the Cleveland area, as well as several sold-out Glass Harp reunion shows.
In 1997 we acquired the Live at Carnegie Hall show that we had recorded opening for the Kinks in 1972. This sparked a show at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2000 we got together for a show in our hometown of Youngstown, Ohio (our first home show in 30 years). The show was recorded and released in 2001 on our own label. Response the CD was great and created more opportunities to play live.
Finally in 2002 we began work on our first studio project in 30 years. We recorded 16 songs at Blue Desert Recording on “The Row” in Nashville and in Phil’s home studio. We mixed in Ohio and mastered in Nashville with Richard Dodd.
Phil has been a major influence in the building Contemporary Christian Music, garnering 5 Dove awards, 2 Grammy nominations, 2 Nashville Music Awards, and he has finished #2 and #3 twice each in the annual Guitar Player Magazine poll (see philkeaggy.net).
As a trio, Glass Harp’s musical style is eclectic in the studio. In concert, Glass Harp exhibits a deeper exploration of their studio material, turning it into improvisational journeys of epic length and technical fireworks. This explains the recent growth in numbers of young people attending Glass Harp shows and buying our CDs. Through the Internet, MP3s of our jams (both past AND current) are being discovered by a new audience (see glassharp.net).
Recently I met Derek Trucks through My son Ted who played with Col. Bruce Hampton. I gave Derek the “Live Carnegie Hall” CD and the recent double live “Strings Attached.” After listening to the CD Derek gave me his manager’s number and asked that we try to do something together. We recently played with Ekoostic Hookah who has a large following in Ohio and the jam band scene. Hookah and the festival crowd gave us a great response. On a different musical plane entirely, Phil just finished three tracks including one solo, for the upcoming POD CD.
Glass Harp is not a nostalgia band. Despite what the mirror tells us, the songs, harmonies and playing on “Hourglass” offer young hearts, voices, and spirit.