There is a fantastic show on HDNet TV that is a tribute to Ray Charles that features Willie Nelson, Wynton Marsalis, Nora Jones and Mickey Raphael.
Mickey has loads of solo time and makes the most of his space. He is playing Lee Oskar harps in various keys to fit the songs. The songs featured are some of Ray Charles’ best work and as such cover a gamut of styles with R&B as the thread tying it all together. Tune in for a lesson in how the harmonica sounds in the hands of a master.
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.”
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!