Doug Jerebine – Doug Jerebine Is Jesse Harper

January 01, 1970

(Drag
City)

 

www.dragcity.com

 

Doug Jerebine is undoubtedly one of the most quixotic and
singular figures to have emerged from the history of rock in New Zealand.

 

A native of the country’s North Island
region, Jerebine first began playing during his high school years in the early
1960s, playing in a slew of local bands with names like The Embers and The
Brew. However, upon his discovery of the fuzzy rumblings that sprung from the
emerging psychedelic movement on the American West Coast and in London, Jerebine began to
experiment with tube amps, distortion pedals and overdrive to emulate what he
heard through the records of Traffic, Moby Grape and The Jimi Hendrix
Experience. The guitarist paralleled this love for counterculture rock with an
equally vested interest in Indian music, utilizing the works of Ravi Shankar
and Ustad Vilayat Khan to teach himself the inner workings of the sitar in
addition to the education he had received on the six-string since the age of
12. 

 

Jerebine additionally began looking to India not only for sonic
inspiration but for spiritual guidance as well. He soon joined the ranks of
George Harrison and jazz great Tony Scott as a member of the Hare Krishna. But
prior to making his sojourn to the Subcontinent to begin his new life
path, the musician stopped over in England to record a solo album at the behest
of Dave Hartstone, an original member of the celebrated Kiwi psych group The
Human Instinct (of whom Doug was briefly a member), who encouraged Jerebine to
capture his guitar magic on tape.

 

The resulting sessions yielded Doug Jerebine is Jesse
Harper
(named as such as part of Hartstone’s plan to reimagine Jerebine as
a Jimi-esque rock god),  a
mesmerizing chunk of grade-A psych-guitar rooted in English blues and
California folk and anchored by Jerebine’s distinctive vocals, which come
across as an amalgam of Bert Jansch and Ian Anderson. This ten song mind trip
found him playing all instruments save for the drums, instilling every ounce of
that East-West duality he’s honed since adolescence into each note, rhythm and
hum. Atlantic Records chairman Ahmet Ertegun was played Jesse Harper over
the telephone by Hartstone, and was so impressed with what he heard that he was
convinced he finally found the closest thing to Hendrix he would have had the
privilege to add to his label’s rock roster, which at the time had already
included the likes of Vanilla Fudge, Led Zeppelin, Yes, Crosby Stills &
Nash and Cream. Ertegun arranged to fly Hartstone out to New York to seal the deal. But once the
industry legend caught wind of his sketchy business practices and unsavory
associates, he quickly called off the meeting, unfortunately causing the
finished Harper album to remain in record biz purgatory for over 40
years.

 

That is, of course, until the expert treasure hunters at Chicago’s Drag
City got their mitts on
one of the three original acetates of the LP known to exist. And by
transferring it to tape for mass duplication, they have liberated a real find
from the lost episodes of rock’s back pages.

 

Following a three-decade hiatus from public life, Jerebine,
now in his mid-‘60s, re-emerged in 2003 and began playing out again alongside
drummer Miles Gillett, the son of one of his bandmates from The Brew. He has
been playing locally across New
Zealand for the majority of this past
decade, experimenting with an improvisational fusion of Indian devotional
music, avant-garde jazz and the psych-blues rock of his Harper days
through the utilization of a homemade electric sitar he created called the
“ragtar”.

 

It would be great to see if Drag City
can get any new music out of the man, because whether you see him as Doug
Jerebine or Jesse Harper, he is a true master of his craft whose voice deserves
to be heard by a wider audience regardless of the name by which he goes.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Midnight Sun”, “Ashes and Matches”, “Good News
Blues”, “Idea” RON HART

 

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