Interviews

Never Land Brings Live Harp to Bluesy Indie Rock

You can find a band that centers its music around the guitar on every block, but to find one that's primary instrument is the 36-string Celtic harp, you'll have to travel to a distant land. Never Land to be precise.

Never Land is a Palm Beach Gardens five-piece that just released its first album Universal Poet, available on bandneverland.com.

"Searching on Craigslist, I saw someone advertising for musicians to play with her electric harp," said the band's drummer and founder Merrick Crittenden about how he first connected with the angelic instrument. "She said she liked Peter, Paul and Mary and wanted to make hippie music, so I brought out my conga drums and we jammed. A year later she moved to Pennsylvania, and I figured I'd never find a harpist again."

But then fate intervened.

Walking around a craft fair with his wife, Crittenden heard Laura Cole playing her Celtic 36-stringer and introduced himself. They made a pact to make music together which resulted in a band Psychedelic Mist.

After four years, Psychedelic Mist morphed into Never Land last February with singer Natasha Jane Julian's vocals pushing it in a more indie pop direction. Last week, the band celebrated its first album at the Brewhouse Gallery with new members Al Wilkin on guitar and Royce Sissom on bass. That venue will be the location of their next gig on February 6.

Further out, the group has a trip to Leuven, Belgium, planned to play the opening night of Heepvention 2015, the Uriah Heep fan convention. Crittenden is a follower of that 1970s prog rock band. His adoration for all things Uriah Heep led to him connecting with a member of the band's brother, Trevor Hensley. "I got to meet Trevor at one of the fan conventions and he contacted us to play a song he wrote, 'One by One'."

The band is looking forward to writing new songs now that it added a guitarist and bassist to the equation. "We want to create something, but not be too weird about it."

However Crittenden warns that fans should be patient for new material as the harp is a higher maintenance instrument. "It isn't as easy as changing the strings of a guitar. The harp takes a while to acclimate. Strings don't just have to be changed they have to be regulated and stretched out." But he definitely feels the sound of the harp is worth any hardship.

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David Rolland is a freelance writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach and Miami New Times. His novel, The End of the Century, published by Jitney Books, is available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland