The Undaunted Professor Harp
Live at Franco’s Pizzeria
714 Moody Street
Waltham, MA 02453-5030
April 10th, 2010
Due to the day job and the lack of consistent maintenance to Route 95, I figure I spend 60 hours a week either in Waltham or commuting back and forth to Waltham. Really, the last place I want to be on a Saturday night is Waltham. But The Boss and I hadn’t caught Hugh Holmes, aka The Undaunted Professor Harp, live in a while and the good Professor is a musical sure thing.
Franco’s, on the other hand, was a bit of a mystery for us. Located on the ‘other’ side of Moody Street, Franco’s combines a local pizza joint with a northern equivalent to a juke joint. Franco’s features fine pizza, cheap drinks and is a place where the locals come to tie one on. From the look of the people transfixed by the TVs either carrying keno games or one of the many sports games of the night, clearly the majority of the almost packed house were not there to hear music. The somewhat rough & tumble crowd was there to drink & gamble, and probably not dance too much.
Taking selections out of the Texas and Chicago blues/rock song books, and splicing up the set with some foot stomping boogies, The Professor quickly won over the crowd. There may have been rent and mortgage money tied up in the over/under of the NCAA Hockey Championship, some pocket money tied up in KENO (the Massachusetts tax for those who can’t do math), or some sanity tied up into the 5th of 162 for the Red Sox, but The Undaunted Professor quickly won them all over. Heads bobbed while mouths filled with pizza, the ever-hustling staff took a few breathers just to enjoy the music and pool players took time from their games in order to soak it all in. And then there were the jazz hands.
There was a gentleman on the dance floor who had either been familiar with The Undaunted Professor’s work, or he just couldn’t contain a jones to dance. He stomped, he hollered, and he rocked the jazz hands. It was, to say, an impressive sight to see. The Undaunted Professor may have owned the stage, but this gentleman owned the dance floor.
Unfortunately the night ended early. As much as I would have liked to have hung out with Paula and Bob of the Boston Blues Society, I had gone well past my allotment of Waltham time for the week. Thankfully The Professor indulged me by playing an extended version of "Use Me", the Bill Withers soul-classic given a very funky and psychedelic treatment, making full use of his lesley speaker effect.
Be sure to check out www.professorharp.com and join Harp’s mailing list. Harp maintains an active gigging schedule focussing around the South Shore, but also seems to have a regular gig in Beverly at The Pickled Onion.