Guitarist/singer/songwriter Zac Harmon, born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, knew Muddy Waters by his real name, McKinley Morganfield, because Zac’s dad was the first registered black pharmacist in that town. His customers included Delta blues royalty: Waters, B.B. King, Bobby Rush, Ike and Tina Turner, and Little Milton.
Harmon took some detours from the blues. He worked as a session musician in Los Angeles and New York and was booked out two years in advance. Harmon received a Grammy nomination in 1994 for producing songs for reggae band Black Uhuru. He even did a stint as a staff writer for Michael Jackson’s publishing company. None of the music was blues, but the call of the Delta remained strong.
With Harmon's first blues album in 2003, he came back to where his heart was. "They [slaves] had very few expressions. It wasn’t like they were going skiing for the weekend. This was the expression. The juke joint on Saturday night—that was it. It was all concentrated in that. For the other folks, plantation owners and so forth, these folks enjoyed the music. It was very entertaining for them. So this was a time when everybody got together and shared joy rather than sharing in pain."
Harmon won the International Blues Challenge in 2004, the first of many awards in his blues career. The track "I'm Bad Like Jesse James," off his fifth album, Right Man Right Now, almost makes you forget John Lee Hooker's version. Harmon has performed at several King Biscuit Blues Festivals.
Still frame from Pryor Center video interview with Zac Harmon at Bubba's Blues Corner during the King Biscuit Blues Festival; Helena, Arkansas, 2015
© Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History, University of Arkansas