I knew Bry Harris was a full-time minister, in addition to being a Trop Rock musician who plays the ukulele. But, until recently, I didn’t know the many tidbits about how he came to be where he is today. He is the pastor of Mars Hill Presbyterian Church in Acworth, Georgia, but also a prolific songwriter. How he combines Trop Rock music and ministry is a unique story.
Bry grew up in the Virginia Beach area and started playing guitar when he was twelve years old. In 1977 he attended his first Jimmy Buffett concert (Buffett opened for The Eagles!) and he started learning Buffett cover songs. He was determined that he would open for Jimmy within five years! This lofty goal may never come to be, but Bry has found his Trop Rock calling entertaining Parrot Heads much like Jimmy Buffett.
When Bry was a senior in high school, he became a Christian and later felt called to the ministry. Now this was a fellow who started wearing Hawaiian shirts in high school and loved the tropical lifestyle. Bry told me “I found Jesus and Jimmy Buffett the same year!” So how did he combine Trop Rock music and ministry? His church was having a building campaign to raise funds for a new building and Bry played for a specific fund raiser and the ball started rolling. It wasn’t long before he had a group going called the Parrot Island Band.
In 2007, he put out his first CD “Parrot Island Getaway.” Oh, but I’m getting ahead in the story. At one point, his band had a bass player, a percussionist and a steel drum player. The steel drum fellow left the band and a Bry found a lovely steel pan on eBay. His wife called him soon after and told him there was a big box on the front porch. When she learned what is was, she asked him “Who will play this thing?” Well, now the Parrot Island band is comprised of Bry on ukulele and his wife, Linda, on the steel drum!
The second CD, “Parrot Island Ukulele,” was nominated for Album of the Year at the 2015 Trop Rock Music Awards and there are two more CDs in the works. “Parrot Island Breeze” will be available before long and Bry’s newest project will follow: “Parrot Island Praise.” In fact, he is making great progress on this inspirational album.
Bry has played at Trop Rockin’ the Smokies, at Trop Stock and at Music on the Bay, in addition to playing many local gigs. He also led a memorial service for DJ Jeff Allen a few years ago at Meeting of the Minds in Key West. Bry wears traditional “preacher clothes” for his main Sunday service, but dons a Hawaiian shirt for the early service each Sunday. I can see just how his relaxed manner, his soothing voice and quiet ukulele would have a positive, spiritual effect on church members and fans.
Keep up the wonderful work and ministry, Bry!