Born in Hamilton, Ontario, Harlan Wells began playing music professionally when he was fifteen years old; by eighteen, he had left home for the road. Thousands of miles of highway, hundreds of small towns and antiquated hotel rooms, as well as, the sordid characters which inhabited them, left an indelible impression which would later influence his prolific song writing. Wells affirms that his youth was abandoned and still lies scattered along the Trans-Canada Highway. Most of his twenties were spent playing the Toronto club circuit, including the venerable El Mocambo and the legendary Horseshoe Tavern. One night, while performing in a popular Yorkville club, music legend Keith Emerson lunged at Wells as he stepped off the stage. He grabbed Wells by his shirt collar, looked him straight in the eye, and not so gently offered some wise, yet gin-soaked, advice: “write your own songs or perish.”
In 2003 Wells sent Barry Harvey (Gordon Lightfoot’s long-time manager) a demo of his songs. Shortly after hearing more material, Harvey began to represent Harlan Wells. Wells' first full-length record Songs from the North Country features the song I Am Here for You which received rotation on campus radio across Canada and earned Wells the top male singer/songwriter title in TVO’s Songwriter's Competition. Then editor of Billboard Magazine, Larry Leblanc, stated that Wells reminded him of the great Canadian singer/songwriters like Gordon Lightfoot and Ian Tyson.
After a couple of failed negotiation attempts, Harvey was ultimately unsuccessful in securing record label support. Wells lost a good friend and a great music industry confidant when Harvey passed away suddenly in late 2007. Wells retreated from the music business and spent the following years concentrating on raising his children. However, those years also mark a prolific period of song writing. In 2012 Wells released Home Recordings which, aptly named, was recorded in his living room and features Wells playing most of the instruments, as well as, notable engineering and production credits.
Producer/engineer Peter Hamilton (Blue Rodeo, Leonard Cohen, Steve Earle) and Wells each share the same reverence for the seminal Canadian group The Band. With this influence and approach in mind, they began recording at Canterbury Studio in Toronto with the intention of producing an all-organic, live off-the-floor, anti-sampling, anti-computer, album of new Harlan Wells songs. Described as Northern Americana, or Canadiana, the new record, Waiting for June, is a compelling alchemy of cross-genres such as country, folk, roots rock, and blues. Ultimately, it’s a singer/songwriter’s record. This is where Wells displays his greatest strength, his song writing. Perhaps both Larry Leblanc and Barry Harvey were cognizant of this before anyone else, but the release of Waiting for June should assuredly reveal to anyone that another great Canadian singer/songwriter has arrived.