and his Harp King
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Kirkland a.k.a. "Harmonica Ham," was born in Greensboro,
Georgia, the son of a Baptist preacher and his wife. When Ham
was nine, his family moved from Macon to Kansas City, Missouri,
and with the exception of a two-year stint in the army, this
is where he has lived since.
After taking up harmonica in his early 20s, Ham went on to win
several awards for his country music playing, including the National
Harmonica Championship in 1980 and 1990. During the '80s and
early '90s he performed around the midwest in various "dance-hall"
and country show bands. During this time he honed his "blues-infused
country" style into what it is today. He has performed with
such notables as Hank Thompson, Rhonda Vincent and shared a guest
spot in Branson with Chelee Wright. These days, "Harmonica
Ham" is a favorite guest star at local and regional country
shows, backed by the region's top country musicians.
Ham's playing is heavily influenced by bluesmen such as Muddy
Waters, which shows in the earthy blues tones he squeezes from
the harp, even on country tunes. Other musical influences- especially
harmonica players-are Charlie McCoy, Wayne Raney, Little Walter
Jacobs, James Cotton, Paul Butterfield, his brother, Clay Kirkland
and friend, Rod Piazza. All contributed to his sound and choice
of material, which shows in his repertoire: an eclectic mix of
sounds from blues to traditional Scottish melodies and original
instrumentals to soulful country songs.
Ham's other passion is cooking, especially barbecue and Southern
side dishes that complement slow-smoked meats. His barbecue sauce
has won many awards at the American Royal National and International
sauce competitions and is being reintroduced to the market in
For the last 12 years, Ham has worked as a truck driver, most
recently as a car hauler, driving over the road in the Midwest.
Practicing his harmonica was one of the ways he passed the time
behind the wheel, composing new licks and perfecting his technique.
His latest CD, "Another Side of Ham" shows off his
versatility, ranging from old-time country and blues to rockin'
jump blues to a haunting Scottish melody. Two original harp solos
round out the mix. Ham's mellow singing plus his lyrical harmonica
style will surely make your feet tap. And Harmonica Ham's Award
Winning Barbecue Sauce will make your lips sing!