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Christmas Horns

A great – and seasonally appropriate – tune here from Lowell Fulson. A lovely loping blues.

There’s no harmonica on it, but there’s a great horn section, and those parts can be played on your harp. In fact, approaching accompaniment as if you were a horn player is a great way to play, especially if you find yourself relying on a few cliche blues licks.

Listen to those nice swells that follow the chord changes. Try playing an octave on the 3+ 6+ for the I chord and 5+ 2+ for the IV. Start as quiet as you can and slowly build in volume as Lowell sings. This is great breath control practice by the way.

The lick that comes in on the V chord is 1+ 1′ 1 repeated (or 4+ 4′ 4 if you want to do it an octave higher).

It’s a fun way to play, and sounds especially good amplified through a nice warm tube amp.

Here’s the song pitch shifted so you can play along on a C harmonica. Enjoy!

Harmonica Music · Harmonica Players

Noah Lewis, the Cure for the Winter Blues

There’s something about this time of year that makes me want to listen to a lot of Jug Band music. Something to do with the dark nights and over-abundance of forced jollity and crass sentimentality I guess. Or maybe I’m just a grinch. In any case the desire to get warm, pour a large liquor,… Continue reading Noah Lewis, the Cure for the Winter Blues

Harmonica Music · Harmonica Players

Suck it and See – Harmonica on BBC Radio

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in March 2016, this is a cute little show about the harmonica. Obviously it’s aimed at a general audience rather than the hardcore harp nerd I’m sure you are, but it should be of interest to new players as well. There’s some good history stuff and contributions from Joe Filisko and David Barrett.

It’s available on BBC iPlayer for the time being at least. If you can’t access it from where you are let me know and I’ll get you an mp3 copy (shhh, don’t tell anyone).

Harmonica Music · Harmonica Players

Destination Bollywood

Two fantastic harmonica album releases today from two very different players. If you’ve spent any time at all with me talking harmonica you’ll know about my deep appreciation of Joe Filisko, his playing, promotion of pre-war blues styles and harmonica in general. Destination Unknown is the fourth album in partnership with guitarist Eric Noden. It’s… Continue reading Destination Bollywood

Harmonica Music · Harmonica Players · Study Tools

The History of Blues Harmonica Concert

Back in 2010 (y’know, the olden days) Joe Filisko, David Barrett and others put together a concert charting the evolution of blues harmonica form the twenties to the naughties. I’m not sure why it’s not occurred to me before to recommend this to people who want to learn to play – and especially if the… Continue reading The History of Blues Harmonica Concert

Harmonica Music · Harmonica Players

Grant Dermody in the UK

This is hugely exciting. I’ve mentioned Grant Dermody here before. Easily one of my favourite living harmonica players. Primarily acoustic, his style is heavily reliant on tongue blocking techniques and a superb musicality. The man is good, and he’s playing a rare UK show in Nottingham on July 28th! I’m going to do my best… Continue reading Grant Dermody in the UK