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"...a world class blues bass player..."-Dave Specter


Harlan Terson was born in Chicago in 1951, and began playing electric bass in 1966. His influences include all styles of blues, as well as the recorded sounds of Stax/Atlantic and Motown. James Jamerson, Carole Kaye, Tommy Cogbill, and Duck Dunn are just a few of his favorite bassists. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in music from the University of Illinois-Chicago, he began playing professionally on the Chicago scene.

Terson's steady "in the pocket" groove has kept him working on the competitive Chicago blues circuit, and taken him overseas as well. He recorded and toured with Lonnie Brooks from 1976-1982. He has also appeared and recorded with many other artists, including the legendary Otis Rush, Bo Diddley, Magic Slim, Albert Collins, Sunnyland Slim, Johnny Littlejohn, Eddy Clearwater, Jimmy Rogers, Kim Wilson, Duke Robillard, Eddie Shaw, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Big Mama Thornton, Jody Williams, Steve Freund, Tad Robinson, Dave Specter and the Bluebirds, Jimmy Johnson, Sharon Lewis, Bob Margolin, Willie Smith, Diunna Greenleaf, Mojo and The Bayou Gypsies, The Chicago Rhythm Review, The Blue Coast Band, and Chicago blues rockers, The Fabulous Fish Heads. He performed at the internationally famous Kingston Mines in Chicago for more than twenty years, and has been on the teaching staff at The Old Town School of Folk Music since 1999. He has recorded on the Alligator, Delmark, Evidence, Severn, and JSP labels.

Harlan Terson uses PGM and Lakland basses, Bag End Speakers, and GHS Strings.


Some career highlights:

  • Lonnie Brooks Blues Band: Five recordings, two Grammy nominations
    Three European trips, including Hamburg, Germany, 1981 Blues Estafette in Utrecht, Holland (with Jimmy Rogers and Walter Horton), and 1982 Chicago Blues Giants tour (with Lefty Dizz, Eddie Shaw, Ken Saydak, and Melvin Taylor)

  • Otis Rush band: One recording
    1988 European tour, including Pistoia Blues Festival (Italy) and North Sea Jazz Festival

    Blues 2000; Edinburgh, Scotland (2000)
    Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival, Annapolis, MD (2000)
    Fleet Bluesfest, Buffalo, NY (2000)
    Blue Note, Osaka & Tokyo, Japan (2000)
    Scandinavian Tour, including Ole Blues (Bergen Norway) &
    Internationale Blues-Dage (Odense, Denmark) (2001)
    Japan Blues Carnival: Osaka, Nagoya, Sendai, Tokyo (2001)

  • Chicago Blues Festival: Main stage appearances with Otis Rush (1988, 2001); Kim Wilson (1999); Ken Saydak & Zora Young (2003); Nora Jean Bruso (2004); Dave Specter & Jimmy Johnson (2011); Paul Kaye (2012) Crossroads stage appearance with various artists (1996), Tad Robinson & Alex Schultz (2001) Showcase Stage with Tad Robinson (2004) Mississippi Juke Joint Jam Stage (2006, 2007, 2013) Front Porch Stage with Paul Kaye (2015)

  • Tad Robinson & Alex Schultz: Three recordings; Queen City Blues Festival (Cincinnati, 1999); Canadian Tour (1999); Indy Jazz Festival, Indianapolis (2000, 2001) Notodden Blues Festival, Notodden, Norway (2000); Belgium Rhythm 'n' Blues Festival, Peer, Belgium (2001); Mayfair Festival of the Arts, Allentown, PA (2004); Toronto Parti Gras (2005); Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival (2013); Sin City Blues Festival (2013); Mississippi Valley Blues Festival (2014)

  • Dave Specter and the Bluebirds: Five recordings; European tour, including Lucerne, Hildesheim, and Rheinberg festivals (1998); Geneva Blues Summit (2005); Mexico City Blues Festival (2006); European tour, including Bay Car Blues Festival (Dunkirk, France (2007); New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival with Jimmy Johnson (2010); Three additional European Tours, including Lucerne Blues Festival and Warsaw Blues Night (2010); Crossroads Blues Festival (2013 & 2015); Seven Hills Blues Festival, Armagh, Northern Ireland (2014); Blues In Hell Festival, Hell, Norway (2014)

  • Steve Freund: Four recordings; Lugano Blues Festival (1989); San Francisco Blues Festival (2005); Geneva Blues Summit (2005)

  • Trinidaddio Blues and Cultural Festival, Trinidad, Colorado:
    Tad Robinson & Alex Schultz, Katherine Davis (2000); Dave Specter & Steve Freund, Ken Saydak (2001);Tad Robinson & Alex Schultz, Craig Horton (2003); Ken Saydak, Bob Margolin (2005); Dave Specter, Steve Freund,  &  Ken Saydak (2006); Tad Robinson & Alex Schultz (2007), Ken Saydak (2008; Tad Robinson (2009); Dave Specter & Sharon Lewis (2011)

  • Dubai Jazz Festival with "Sax" Gordon, Tad Robinson, Alex Schultz, Deitra Farr, and Sugaray Radford (2014)

  • Teaching at The Old Town School of Folk Music since 1999

  • Four years with Chicago dance band Rhythm City

  • More than twenty years in various house bands at Chicago's Kingston Mines

  • Thousands of other appearances, spanning four decades