After life on the road, Harper is settled at Emory
When faculty and staff at the Candler School of Theology have computer snafus
they can't solve on their own, David Harper comes to their rescue.
Last March Harper was named Candler's first local computing support person,
and since then has been working furiously to connect nearly 100 faculty
and staff to the Ethernet system.
Most people at Candler, however, probably don't know that the man who is
connecting them to the information superhighway spent a big chunk of his
life on the real highway, as a member of several touring rock bands.
On the road
Harper's music career began right after he finished college at the University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he took a few classical guitar courses.
"I didn't really want to get a straight job after college," Harper
recalled. "I came out of college not qualified temperamentally to do
a day job. I was a pretty good bass player, so I decided to see if I could
make a living at it."
For 10 years during the late '70s and early '80s, Harper worked as a full-time
musician. He spent a lot of that time on the road, mostly in the Southeast,
but also in the Midwest.
"I've done just about every kind of bass guitar gig you could think
of, except for a straight jazz gig," Harper said. "I've done gigs
where there was some jazz involved. I've also done rock, new rock, country
and a smattering of jazz."
Harper also performed in several rock bands in which the members wrote most
of their own material and attempted to sell their creations to record companies.
"We had a couple of nibbles, but we never got the whole enchilada,"
In contrast to the chance Harper got to write and play some of his own material,
there were also times when he had to play the "Holiday Inn circuit"
at hotels along freeways all over the Southeast. Harper refers to those
experiences as "gotta pay the rent" gigs. "Nobody likes them,
but everybody has to do them at one time or another," he said. "But
even that was fun in some ways."
Although Harper and his fellow musicians all have fun tales to tell from
their days on the road, he also said that such traveling could get downright
boring. "You do a lot of waiting," he said. "You put up with
a lot of boredom to get that two or three hours on stage. There's a lot
of sitting around in motel rooms. That's partly why I took up photography
during that time, just to give myself something to do during the days. But
just being away from home was hard, too. I wasn't married at the time, so
I wasn't missing that part of a home life. But now that I am, I can't imagine
being gone the amount of time it would take to do that sort of thing again.
When you're right out of college and living out of a suitcase, it's kind
of fun living the high life. But after a while, if you have any sense, you
start to think about doing things differently and putting down roots somewhere."
Putting down roots
Joining the Emory staff six years ago was one of Harper's first steps in
putting down those roots. He initially was a temporary employee in the Candler
Development Office and was eventually offered a full-time job as secretary
for the office. During that time, Harper developed a strong interest in
information technology and took several courses to supplement his computer
knowledge. Last March, Harper was named Candler's first local computer support
Trouble-shooting takes up a lot of Harper's time at Candler, where the most
common problems have to do with printing and e-mail access.
"A lot of my time right now is taken up with getting people wired for
Ethernet, because we're just starting to get faculty and staff connected,"
Harper said. "I'm working my way through the building and learning
as I go."
At home, Harper and his wife April Moon, a chef at the Flying Biscuit Cafe
in Candler Park, are busy with their two daughters, Hana (which is Japanese
for flower), 3, and Emma, six weeks. Harper said that Hana has shown a passing
interest in his bass, but most of her talents seem to be in the visual arts.
Twenty years ago, when he was on the road, having a family and a home was
one of Harper's dreams, but it didn't happen according to the timetable
he had expected. "That's okay, because that's improvisation. You have
to expect the unexpected. You can make your plans as much as you want to,
but there will always be something that comes out of left field. So you
have to be ready to improvise."
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