Harty releases "Holding On" at the High Noon Saloon on March 19.
In 2012, when he was performing on the road about 200 nights a year, singer, guitarist and songwriter Josh Harty found himself mailing rent checks from places like Scotland and Vienna. That was when he and his girlfriend/manager/booking agent Jess Parvin figured it was time to give up their Madison apartment and go full-on itinerant.
They’ve essentially lived out of their car and hotel rooms since then, hitting 41 states and about 13 different countries along the way.
Over the last year and half, Harty has scaled back his furious performing schedule a bit to focus on writing and recording a new album. Holding On is Harty’s fourth solo album and first since 2011. He will celebrate with a CD release show at the High Noon Saloon on Saturday, March 19. Sharing the bill will be local Americana purveyors Old Soul Society, who are releasing a debut album, The Farmhouse Sessions, and Nashville singer/songwriter Sarah Lou Richards, who is appearing as part of BandSwap initiative, a city-sponsored musical exchange program.
Harty recorded Holding On with Mark Whitcomb of DNA Music Labs over a week in October, and the album was co-produced by Whitcomb and Harty’s longtime friend and collaborator Blake Thomas. Thomas will join Harty at the High Noon, along with other album personnel: Rusty Lee (keyboards), Pauli Ryan (percussion), Scott Beardsley (drums), Chris Boeger (bass) and Chris Wagoner (fiddle and mandolin).
Harty played guitar as a cover-band sideman in Fargo, N.D., before graduating to original material and moving to Madison, and he’s always considered himself more of a performer than a writer. Holding On represents a shift toward the songwriting side.
“I think I’m growing into the role of writer,” Harty says. “I spent a lot of years playing in cover bands and just kind of trying to hone the skills of being a frontman and a decent guitar player. The songs on this record I actually sat down and tried to make something different rather than just a whim.”
Their year-long stab at nomadism having stretched to five years, Harty and Parvin are ready to settle down and reestablish a home base in Madison, though Harty expects to continue touring several months a year. For the last few years, Harty has supplemented his musician income by flipping houses in Florida during the winter. He’d rather not have to keep it up, but if that’s what it takes to stay afloat, so be it.
“I’m happy where I’m at,” Harty says. “I have no illusions of being famous. Even if I have to keep swinging a hammer once in a while, that’s fine. Hopefully, it’ll get to the point where if I have to flip a house, I can hire somebody else to do it.”