The Journal Gazette
Friday, August 20, 2021 1:00 am

Spotlight: Dan Dickerson, The Harp Condition

COREY MCMAKEN | The Journal Gazette

The Harp Condition is among artists performing this weekend during Allen County Public Library's Rock the Plaza.

The local Dan Dickerson music project includes songs created by recording short loops of musical instruments and combining them digitally live on the stage for an experience Harp Condition's website describes as “an inter-galactic space harp kinda thing.”

Morning After, APQ and Accidental Blues Band join the Harp Condition on this weekend's Rock the Plaza roster. The concert series ends next week with a show by Strange Waters, Catfish Dave P, the Debutants and Fort Wayne Funk Orchestra.

For more about The Harp Condition and hear music from the project, go to

Dickerson answered these questions via email. The conversation has been edited.

Q. For people that aren't familiar with a loop and what you do, what should they know before you get on stage?

A. The tunes are rarely planned out, they are impromptu and off the cuff. Songs are never played the same. I am a looper and I try to incorporate multiple instruments, including the harp, a kaossilator, guitars, a kazoo and a drum machine, and put them together with an ample amount of weird spacey sounds.

Songs range from classic rock and jam bands tunes to funk and reggae. It is always something different and sometimes I don't even know what to expect.

Q. Has there been a song or artist that you wanted to cover, but just couldn't figure out how to arrange it in your style?

A. When I first started playing the harp, I heard Tori Amos doing “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” She scaled it down and was playing it on the piano. It really made me think about the possibilities. I had always wanted to play “Space Truckin',” it was difficult to play it on the harp. I realized that I could arrange it my way, and with help from the loop, turn it in to something a little different and a little bit my own.

Most things are possible if you use your imagination.

Q. What do you want the audience to think during or remember after your set?

A. “Wow, that was different.”

I tend to imagine putting songs together that just shouldn't go together, or playing them in a way that you would not expect. What if Jimmy Hendrix played a show with the Allman Brothers? What if Rush played “MTV Unplugged?”

I hope the audience sees that unlikely mash-up and possibly thinks to themselves, “Who would have thought?” I really want people to have a unique experience and hear the songs I cover in a new light.

Q. What is your favorite musical instrument that starts with an H – and you can't answer “harp”?

A. Harpejji (an electric stringed instrument). I recently heard the harpejji thanks to Lance Hoeppner, who is known for his piano work with Moser Woods. I believe it is the only full-length album recorded with the harpejji.

I enjoyed the tone and the layout of the fingering and the fretting. The sound is something completely unique. When Hoeppner plays it, the approach is fresh and there is a melodic sensibility that is rarely heard.

Q. If you had a round-trip ticket on a time machine, where would you go?

A. I would love to travel some when else in time, but until then we will just keep on truckin' straight on till morning.

I could imagine traveling in my bus, Dark Star, sometime in the sixties, touring around the country playing music out of the back... you know, feeding people at festivals, making friends and enjoying the simplest of times. But then again, that is something you can find The Harp Condition doing in the present.

I have always had a special place in my heart for the Marx Brothers. Harpo is the reason I have a harp. It would be pretty stellar to catch a Marx Brothers vaudeville era show.

If You Go

What: Rock the Plaza

When: 6 p.m. Saturday

Where: Plaza of Allen County Public Library, 900 Library Plaza

Admission: Free; bring seating

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