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.
The incomparable Rick Estrin and the Nightcats (featuring Kid Anderson of Greaseland Studios fame on guitar) are doing a brisk UK tour in January. Rick is one of the finest living blues harmonica players and his band are as good as it gets too. I was really looking forward to the Selby gig (the only… Continue reading Rick Estrin 2019 UK tour
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
There’s precious little Big Walter footage around and I must confess I’d never seen this before. Maybe not the greatest performance in the world but man it’s good to see Walter in his element. Looks like he’s really digging this, and getting the respect he deserves from a large audience. Very cool.
Recently completed Level 7 of David Barrett’s harmonica program. These are the videos I submitted of two study songs – Half Steppin’ and Blues for Paul DeLay. Both have minor errors and flubs, and David advised me to keep a close eye on my 3 draw bends (you always gotta pay close attention to that… Continue reading Always Working
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.
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
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
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
A big thanks to everyone for making 2017 a great year for me. Massive thanks to everyone who’s supported me getting this thing off the ground, and especially to all my students. Here’s to a happy hearty harpin’ 2018.