For a generation of Atlanta music fans, singer-songwriter David Ryan Harris will always be ingrained as the charismatic co-founder of late 1980s funk metal act, Follow For Now.
At the band’s blistering live shows at venues like The Point and Centerstage, fans would join Harris as he shouted the FFN rallying cry: “Is there unity in this house?!”
Twenty years on, Harris, like the rest of us, has cut his hair, put on a shirt and placed the blue bandanna in cold storage.
These days, the Los Angeles resident tours with John Mayer and writes and records the softer neo soul material found on his solo albums, including “Soulstice” and his latest release, “The Bittersweet.”
He’ll introduce fans to the material tonight at a solo acoustic show at the Loews hotel in Midtown, starting at 9 p.m.
“This is just a natural evolution for me,” Harris tells Intel. “The new material is more melodic and I’ve stripped it down so that it can be played acoustically. “
Recalling the Follow For Now era, Harris laughs and adds: “This is just more age appropriate for me these days. You don’t want to look like a dinosaur roaming the stage wearing shorts and no shirt!”
On “The Bittersweet,” Harris’ gorgeous latest release issued on his Peace Pourage label (and available on iTunes), the album creatively hangs together both thematically and musically, a rarity in an era where music buyers cherry pick Katy Perry singles to toss on their iPods.
“Fortunately or unfortunately, because I don’t have a record deal, I don’t have to worry about singles,” Harris says. “I can put out records as I see fit. Something that tells a story from beginning to end. I know that’s not how things are typically done in the current [musical] landscape but that’s how I prefer to do things. Like a lot of people, every Tuesday I get burned on iTunes when I download an entire album from an artist and there are nine pieces of [expletive] and two songs worth listening to.”
In addition to his gig tonight, Harris says he’s hoping to check out his old stomping grounds in Little Five Points while he’s in town.
“I was talking to a friend the other day who told me about this wedding he’s going to in Athens where the rehearsal dinner will include tailgating with catered food from The Varsity,” Harris recalls laughing. “That’s what I love about Atlanta. There’s a sense there that it’s not all about being all done up all the time. Things are more relaxed. I’m looking forward to that experiencing that again.”