Once again, one of my blues loving friends was able to get to a great blues show and wrote an article about it. My good friend Stevie Vegas who is a fantastic drummer wrote the following about the recent Fleetwood, PA Blues Fest. Wish I was there!
“This year I once again had the privilege to catch the annual Fleetwood Blues Festival held in Fleetwood, PA. The festival brings together some of the top local blues acts for an afternoon of great music for a great cause. In return, the proceeds from the festival are used to upgrade the local park.
There were a total of eight smokin’ hot blues bands that performed at this year’s festival. Even though the afternoon rain tried to dampen the event, the temperature of the music prevailed and the bands outplayed the storm.
If you love harp players, the band to see this time around was the James Supra Blues Band (James Supra on harp and vocals; Ray Grimmer on bass; Al Wanamaker on drums; Dana Gaynor on guitars). James had his harps, growlin’, screamin’, and cryin’ their way through a set list of great blues classics. The band also did a fantastic job at arranging some of the old blues standards in ways that made the songs sound as if they were just recorded yesterday. It was great hearing some of the harp lines played in unison with the poetic guitar work of Dana Gaynor. The “comping” work between the guitar lines and the harp replies were also second to none.
James really played his harp with passion and fire. That personal commitment to the music brought the crowd to their feet at the end of the band’s performance. You had to think twice as to whether that thunder and lightning was coming from the heavens or from the stage!
Do yourself a favor and indulge yourself in some intense harp playing with the James Supra Blues Band.”
There was a nice piece today on Charles Osgood’s Sunday Morning tv show about harmonicas. He paid a visit to Harrison Harmonicas in Rockford, IL and showed Their outstanding harmonicas that are state of the art. Fabricated by hand with the aid of CNC and laser machines to cut, bend and engrave the metal, the Harrison B-radical harmonica sounds great and is very strong and well made. The only downside is there is a 6 month wait to get one so if you want a B-radical harmonica, better put your order in now! During the interview Mr Harrison said “If we can get the harmonica into pop culture, we win” How true! That is also one of the purposes of this blog and my websites, to get the word out that playing the harmonica is a fun and worthwhile endeavor. Here’s a link to the Harrison website: http://www.harrisonharmonicas.com/
As a harmonica player, it’s easy to get caught up listening to a few blues harp players. We all have our favorites, mine being: Little Walter, Big Walter Horton,William Clarke, Charlie Musselwhite to name a few.
If I only listened to them, I would certainly get fantastic lessons in blues harp but I would be missing out on all the great music played on instruments other than blues harp.
Listening to players of other instruments is an important part of learning to play music. There is so much to learn about phrasing, note choice, tone and many other aspects of playing music. In addition, by listening to players of other instruments, You will most likely be introduced to other positions on the harmonica and even specialty harmonicas such as the Lee Oscar minor key harps. I have them available here at my harmonica store : http://www.harmonicasongs.net/Harmonicas2.htm
So as an exercise, try taking a song you like with a laid back melody and a solo played by a trumpet, flute or saxaphone and figure out how to play it on your harmonica. Occasionally it might take 2 or more harmonicas to get through a song and that’s fine but in most cases, once you figure out the key and position to play, you’ll be able to play it using one harp.
By learning songs and solos played by other instruments, you will be learning not only a lot about your harmonica but also about the big world of music. Jam On!
This was a short video I made back in 2007 and has become very popular on Youtube with almost 200,000 views! That is amazing for a little blues harp jamming. For the record, I was playing a Hohner Special 20 harmonica in the key of A in second position (crossharp).
I love it when my friends get out to hear great blues. Even better is when they write down their experiences and send them to me. That is exactly what my good friend and studio owner Brian Zeb www.brianzebstudios.com did.
Here’s the article:
HARPS….BLUES, AND THE FABULOUS THUNDERBIRDS
Was anybody there?
I’m talking about this Summer’s Blues Fest at Big Boulder Ski Resort in the Pocono Mountains of Pa. Every year, as usual, no matter what the weather, I still get chills absorbing all that pure bread blues comin “straight at ya” from the heart and soul of some of the world’s finest bands and entertainers.
Kudos to the live sound company and the tech who “mixed it all up” for the main stage…..that live, unmistakable sound brewing from within the Pocono mountains is unmatched and what better music to have flowing down the ski slopes than that of the Blues.
I was fortunate to have caught Kim Wilson and the Thunderbirds as they kicked some major butt with their show….what a band, what a set. As an audio engineer myself, I often pay close attention to some of the finer details of a performer’s act….like what amps, microphones, and instruments they all use. I couldn’t get close enough to see the mic that Kim was using for his harp, but I will say this, between him and the live sound tech, that mid-range,honky-tonkin harmonica vibe pouring out from the speaker columns was enough excitement to rock anyone’s boat!
The band left the stage somewhere in the middle of their set, only to leave Kim alone with just his harp and a mic. It was pure pleasure to hear Kim’s heart flowing through that little instrument…what a big sound. He performed solo for what seemed to be 5 minutes or more, but who was counting…. For such a small instrument, that harmonica sounded larger than life!
I’ve been playing the new Hohner Marine Band Crossover harmonicas for a couple of months and absolutly love playing them!
I’ve been playing Hohner Special 20’s for many years because it was a more comfortable harmonica for me. Hohner improved upon the venerable Marine Band a few years back by creating the Marine Band Deluxe. This harp is a very nice harmonica that solves the comb swelling problem by sealing the pear wood comb from moisture.
Now, with the introduction of the Crossover, Hohner pushes the envelope a little further by using a bamboo comb. Not only does it not swell, it makes the harmonica loud, really loud!
The harmonica is very responsive and fairly easy to overblow out of the box. This is a custom shop harmonica at a retail store price. I still play my Special 20’s because let’s face it, they are great harps for playing blues but when I want to play jazz or blues with a little more finesse, I reach for my Crossovers.
I have the Marine Band Crossovers available in all keys at great prices. Most times I can beat the big name stores on price and you can deal directly with me and ask questions if needed.