Had we¬†been¬†shovelled onto¬†a¬†grimy¬†conveyor belt¬†and pitched¬†alongside millions of innocents into¬†the¬†inferno of the Great War (1914-18),¬†there is a¬†strong chance we¬†would have had¬†a musical companion. An emollient for¬†the mental and physical agonies of front line duty.
Portability, cost and availability¬†predetermined the choice of instrument. And while a variety found their way to the front,¬†it was the humble¬†harmonica¬†that¬†became the¬†proprietary¬†antedote to the¬†sting of industrialised warfare.¬†And¬†it’s probably the reason why so many Europeans¬†still¬†relate stories of¬†a¬†family¬†elder who¬†played¬†the mouth organ.
This Remembrance Day is no different¬†to any other – they are equally¬†important. ¬†As Santayana famously wrote: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. It’s just that this year we have¬†the novelty of¬†an extra number 11. At¬†the eleventh hour (GMT), on the eleventh day, of the eleventh month -¬† of the eleventh year¬†- we remember¬†the fallen.
Greasy Rob the car mechanic, Otis the mailman, Stomping Stu from the village allotments and the Doc were busy playing a game of Friday night Monopoly on the kitchen table. A large brown pot of Taylor’s Yorkshire Tea steamed away next to Otis who was also banker for the weekend biscuit assortment. Otis¬†had¬†hotels on the home straight, Rob had¬†all four stations and the Doc had a strong collection of reds and yellows. Meanwhile Stu was¬†casually¬†thumbing his Water Works and¬†keeping¬†one eye on Bow Street. Continue reading →
Will Wilde’s latest album is out now¬†and he’s touring itin Germany next month. Brits can catch the full band at The Hayling Island Blues Weekend in January 2014.¬†¬†Should you go see him? Should you buy the album? Should you buy the t-shirt?
Yes if you want to witness a young blues artist in his prime, delivering his music with every last ounce of passion. Yes if you’re looking for blues as¬†dirty as engine oil on your jeans. And yes if you’re looking for something to go with your jeans. Continue reading →
The Good Doctor was tapping the steering wheel of his¬†bright red Volvo PV as¬†it bowled¬†along the village High Street. From¬†below the dashboard came the rattle and hum not of the dodgy rocker box¬†Greasy Rob¬†had just¬†re-engineered, but the¬†rhythm of¬†Shake A Bone; the¬†album by Son of Dave.
The¬†Doc pulled up outside the Harp Surgery,¬†crunched his way along the path¬†and, dropping his harp case¬†inside the door, spun his homburg¬†across the reception onto the vacant coat stand. Bull’s-eye!¬†‘Mama like a bit of revolution talk..!’¬†he¬†growled in a fauxbasse¬†more reminiscent of¬†Al Pacino than Son of Dave.¬† Continue reading →
Hard on the heels of Paul Jones’s¬†blues harp assault comes the master of Harpboxing himself, Son Of Dave. A huge favourite of Harp Surgery, Son of Dave is right at the cutting edge of modern harmonica music. He fuses, beat box, hip hop, dance, blues and psychedelia¬†to¬†create a¬†rich new harp sub-culture.
Son of Dave¬†has packed his suitcase and is on the road to support¬†his brand new album Blues At The Grand. Always delivering a party¬†at whichever town he stops in, his raucous, one-man blues show has built him a fiercely loyal fan base.
The Doc discovered this excellent read while researching harmonica stories for the 12-15 year olds he teaches around the County. It would make an excellent Christmas or birthday present for girls or boys in this age bracket. It’s also a¬†fun read for adults!
Yolonda is smart, tough, and big for her age. Back in Chicago where¬†she used to live, everyone knew better than to mess with her or her little brother, Andrew. Andrew doesn’t talk very much and he can’t read, but he can create unbelievable music on the old harmonica his father left him.
Carol Fenner paints a great picture of US School life, building her story on¬†modern Afro-American culture, including Double-Dutch rope jumping and the annual Chicago Blues Festival. There’s¬†even a cameo¬†featuring ¬†BB King. Fenner also addresses issues of family life, bullying, drugs¬†and special needs learning, with the magic of harmonica¬†music providing the all-important¬†central thread.¬†True genius rearranges old material in a way never seen before.¬†Find out where Andrew’s genius takes him.
Yolonda’s Genius¬†is published by Simon & Schuster (ISBN 0-689-82172-7). Buy at Amazon UK or Amazon US
Harpin’ By The Sea Is Back!¬†- Brighton (UK), Sat 8.Feb 2014
Next year our very special guest will be Aki Kumar from San Jose, California.¬†Aki¬†is a leading exponent of the West Coast blues harmonica tradition. He’ll be leading a Little Walter Master Class, dropping in on our beginners and intermediates workshops and playing a ticketed show in the evening. It’s going to be a winter-sizzler so book early.
Having graduated from Dave Barrett‚Äôs School of Blues in San Jose,¬†Aki¬†has gone¬†on to carve a name for himself on the US live blues circuit, initially with Tip Of The Top, but more recently¬†as the featured harmonica player¬†with Little Johnny & The Giants.¬†You can find plenty of examples of both bands on YouTube.
Aki has played live¬†alongside Kim Wilson, James Harman, Rick Estrin, Mark Hummel, Gary Smith, Andy Santana,¬†John Nemeth, and many, many more‚Ä¶and he survived to tell the tail! Here he is with Kim Wilson and Mark Hummel (amongst others).
Further details about Harpin’ By The Sea 2014 can be found on our Workshop Page. We strongly recommend early booking. If you are unsure whether you qualify as a beginner, intermediate or advanced player, have a chat with Stuart McKay and he’ll guide you in. His number is also on the Workshop Page.
Today Otis the Harp Surgery’s postman dropped off¬†a¬†delivery from those lovely people at Amazon.co.uk; Pat Missin’s handsome¬†new manual, The Ultimate Miniature Harmonica Tunebook. And as he trudged¬†round the duck pond, amidst the late snow and expectant quacks,¬†Otis was whistling a familiar French folk tune.
A third annual day of Harpin’ By The Sea completed, and another bucket load of memories collected!
This year we had the very great honour of welcoming Steve Baker to¬†his UK homeland, fresh from his tour of India.¬†During a full programme of harmonica workshops, ¬†Steve offered his¬†wisdom and expertise to a select group of advanced harmonica players, many of whom had travelled across the country to meet him. Meanwhile over forty newcomers attended the workshop for complete beginners with the Harp Surgery’s Good Doctor.Continue reading →
Now that the Christmas and New Year celebrations are behind us, even for our funky Spanish neighbours with all their Three Kings business¬†(we love you), the folks down here at the Surgery have been checking out a few statistics.
And before you go getting all excited, no we don’t mean the vital statistics of Our Monica, the Harp Surgery’s own domestic Godess from up North.
If you’re a regular at the Surgery, you’re probably familiar with the ‘Where in the World’ globe on our homepage. It’s over there on the right >.¬†You can tell at a glance who’s visiting us, and from whence they cometh. For all our visitors, regular or new, you can enjoy flying your flag while you’re here.¬†You can probably see your right now. Which is¬†nice. Continue reading →