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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Thayer musician has super gig

Thursday, February 15, 2007

THAYER -- Thayer resident and city councilman Mike Harber recently had an experience many sports fans would have loved being a part of. He played guitar for the 2007 Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player, Payton Manning, while Manning sang "Rocky Top" and "You Don't Have to Call Me Darlin, Darlin."

Anyone who doesn't know Harber personally might wonder how a Thayer City Councilman would end up in the company of the current most popular football player in the world.

The answer is simple -- connections and talent. Most of all talent.

Harber, a 1970 graduate of Thayer High School, has played guitar professionally since 1970 and has played with The Jason D. Williams Band for 22 years.

Rockin' Jason D. Williams and his band were invited by Ashley Manning, Payton's wife, to play at an after Super Bowl party -- whether the Colts won or lost. The Colts, of course, beat the Chicago Bears at the Super Bowl in Miami, Fla., Feb. 4 which made the party that much sweeter.

The party was held at the Marriott in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., about 27 miles from Miami.

Harber said 150 guests were invited to the party including Kenny Chesney, Con Hunley, Jon BonJovi and Jimmy Buffet.

Manning's brother, Eli Manning, who is quarterback for the New York Giants, was there, as well as his father, Archie Manning, who once quarterbacked for Ole Miss and the New Orleans Saints.

"Payton is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and "Rocky Top" is the school song. I guess that is why he chose to sing it at the party," Harber said.

Harber and Williams have played all over the world. "The band has rock-a-billy roots but we also play some high energy rock and roll," Harber said. Harber plays bass guitar for the band.

Harber has also played back-up for some big name entertainers including George Jones, Tanya Tucker, Isaac Hayes, Wynonna Judd and David Sanborn. He has also recorded albums with several different entertainers.

"Of all the entertainers and professional artists I have played with, Jason is the most talented of all," Harber said.

This is not the first famous or important gig The Jason D. Williams Band has played. They played for President George Bush Sr., President Ronald Reagan, Hillary Clinton's birthday party in 1993 and for President Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1992.

"President Clinton's mother, Virginia Kelly, was the first member of the Jason D. Williams Band Fan Club," Harber said.

"The best place we ever played, in my opinion, was at Paul Newman's ranch, Hole in the Wall, in Connecticut. This is a ranch for terminally ill kids. Paul Newman does so many things to help these kids. All the proceeds from his food products go to help the kids," he said.

Harber said he has played with, and for, some important people but there have only been two people he has been in awe of. "That would be President Clinton and Paul Newman," he said.

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