This is fun series in which we ask bluegrass music personalities, some famous, some not so famous, about some of their interests, as well as about the music that they love.
Josh Harris is the banjo player with the Trinity River Band from Callahan, Florida.
As with many others Josh Harris first became aware of music at church; “classic hymns and the more modern “Praise and Worship” style were played at the church we were going to at the time,” he says. Additionally, attendance at a Christian school allowed him to hear those kinds of music a lot in his younger years.
He first became aware of bluegrass music at the age of 10 when his parents, Mike and Lisa Harris, took the whole family to the Twin Oaks Bluegrass Festival in Hoboken, Georgia. It was on that very day that he heard the banjo played for the very first time, at least in person, and he was immediately hooked! Such was Josh’s desire to have a banjo that his parents got him one for Christmas that same year.
He didn’t have any formal lessons, learning from his dad, who had enough understanding of the banjo to get Josh started for his first few months. Additionally, he progressed from being around other players and trying to learn what he could from them. Since then, he has tried to develop his own style of playing not by emulating any one banjo player, but, rather, by listening to and learning from as many different players and styles as he can.
Being a family group, the Trinity River Band has taken up almost all of his performance and related time. However, he has been in demand to assist others, such as West Virginia-based band Chosen Road who he helped this past New Year (20126/2017) when he accompanied them to play at Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, California.
Josh says, “If something doesn’t conflict with Trinity River Band’s schedule or my other responsibilities with the band, I enjoy challenging myself by having to learn music that I’m not 100% comfortable with.”
Josh has played on all 10 of Trinity River Band’s CDs, playing the banjo on each one and, in more recent years, the resophonic guitar as well. He has sung a few lead vocals and harmonies on most of those recordings also.
Talking about the decision to name the band Trinity River Band, Josh mentions that there are actually two such rivers, one that is in Texas and one in California. However, he says, “the main reason that we chose the first part of the name is the fact that we are a Christian family. Also, there are three of us younger folks in the band. And finally, we try to live together in our family with Faith, Hope, and Love being foremost in our hearts and minds, yet another “trinity” of things! And the “river” part just seemed to flow nicely…and yes, the pun was intended!”
What would you like to drink?
“I would love a big ole cup of coffee with some cream and sugar. I can drink it black, but not unless I have to!”
Do you want anything to eat as well?
“Nah, I think that I’m okay with just the coffee for now.”
What’s your favorite food?
“Hmmm…that is a difficult question because I like food period, but if I had to narrow it down and be quite specific, I would have to give that distinction to my Grandma’s homemade fried chicken! Best in the world, as far as I’m concerned!”
And what would you have to drink with that?
“The only thing that goes perfectly with a Southern meal like that is some good sweat iced tea. But, if I were trying to be a little better, water does just fine as well!”
What’s the nicest meal that you have ever had?
“Now that would have to be a meal that I had on a cruise just a few years ago. It was this succulent five course meal, in which the entrée was the best lobster I have ever put in my mouth! I can’t remember much other than that because the lobster put all other thought our of my head!”
Let’s talk bluegrass….. Where/when did you first hear bluegrass music?
“Sounds good to me!
The first time that I had the pleasure of hearing bluegrass music, on a recording, was Blue Highway’s Marbletown album. And man, was that a good album! However, I wasn’t completely hooked until I went to a bluegrass festival in Georgia when I was ten. From that point on, I can’t get it out of my head, and that is perfectly okay with me!”
Which of your own songs do you have a particular liking for? What about a song written by someone else?
“Of the songs that I have written myself, which are all just instrumentals, I would have to say that I just really enjoy playing Mindbender, a tune that we recorded on our Heartstrings album. However, on our latest album, Things We Do For Dreams, my sister, Sarah, wrote a few songs, and among these I would honestly have to claim that Lover’s Leap is my favorite tune. My dad has also written a great number of songs throughout his musical lifetime, but the one of his that sticks out in my mind above all others is a song the he wrote years ago called Over in A Moment.”
Which particular album do you like best and why?
“Of all of our own albums, Things We Do For Dreams, has to be the one that I like best. Not just because it is the latest and all that, but because I believe it to be the CD that shows how much we have grown and matured musically over the last ten years of playing music. Also, it has the collection of songs that I just love most that we have ever done!”
What’s your favorite bluegrass project of all time and why?
“Hmmmm…another difficult question, but I think that, if push came to shove, I would single out Marbletown again, by Blue Highway. Yes, that was the first bluegrass album that I remember hearing, but I have listened to that record over a hundred times and still, I hear things that astound me and surprise me. Those guys just know how to make good music.”
You play a banjo…. … What model is it?
“I do play the banjo, and I have since for more than half of my lifetime so far. The model banjo that I am currently playing is a Deering Deluxe Model, and it really is such an amazing instrument!”
Of all the instruments that you have owned what’s your favorite?
“Since I am a banjo picker, my favorite instrument is going to be a banjo, of course. Even though I do play the resonator guitar, as well! I have had several banjos over the years, but my favorite would be the one that I currently play, for sure. And since I have the privilege of being sponsored by Deering, that works out great!!”
What’s your favorite bluegrass memory?
“Well, again, since I am a banjo player, my favorite memory involves one of the banjo players that I most look up to. Mr. Mark Johnson has become a great friend of ours, and the first time that he came over to our house, we built a fire and had a private jam late into the night. That was the coolest thing!”
How do you keep fit and healthy when you spend so much time on the road?
“Staying fit and healthy is not an easy thing at all while on the road. In the past, I have even brought along a weight bench and weights to work out at campgrounds, but now, my dad and I are into biking, so we are hoping that that will be an easier habit to maintain. Plus, we just have to buy groceries that have fewer cookies than veggies! LOL”
Are you a sports fan? Who do you follow?
“I used to be a huge sports fan, but anymore, it just doesn’t seem as important to me. However, I do still enjoy a good football game! Since we only live an hour and a half from Gainesville, Florida, being a fan of the Florida Gators only makes sense!”
What hobbies do you have?
“I don’t really have any collections of stuff, but I do have a couple of hobbies. One I already mentioned, mountain biking. It’s hard to beat the feeling of riding trails and experiencing nature in that way. Plus, I also really enjoy golfing. I’m by no means even a good golfer, but that feeling of getting a solid drive right in the middle of the fairway keeps me coming back for more!”
What is the last movie film that you watched? What is your favorite film and why?
“I believe that the last movie that I watched was Angry Birds: The Movie. It’s a pretty funny film but definitely not even close to my favorite. That particular title goes to the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy. I have read the books a few times as well, but seeing the landscapes and the characters come alive in such a spectacular way is truly an incredible experience.”
Do you get much time to watch TV?
“There is not generally a whole lot of time to watch television on the road, but thanks to the somewhat recent inception of Netflix and Hulu, access to some of my favorite shows is much, much easier.”
What’s your favorite show?
“Some of my favorite shows over the years have been Psych, The Office, The Blacklist, but the most recent has to be Parks and Recreation.”
What would you be doing if you weren’t involved in bluegrass music?
“Even if I weren’t involved directly in bluegrass music, I feel that I would still be involved in the music industry in some way. I really enjoy the recording aspect of the industry, as well as video, photography, design and web management, so I would find one way or another to put my hand to one of those things, no doubt!”
You can find out more about Josh and Trinity River Band online.