Pencil Full Of Lead – Paolo Nutini

Sunny Side UpI got food in my belly, a license for my telly and nothing’s gonna bring me down!

We’ve only just caught on to this track, but you should have seen the shenanigans around the breakfast table down at the Harp Surgery this morning. The Good Doctor was blowing bass on an empty scrumpy jar, Elwood was harping his little head off, Otis the postman was tapping his teaspoon on the side of his cup and the Riverboat Captain was dancing a maniacal hornpipe around the hazardous waste container. We’ve not had so much fun since last Sunday’s matinée showing of Jungle Book.

We hold our hands up and confess we know next to nothing about Paolo Nutini or his band The Vipers, except they’re from north of the border. Clearly Paolo has been a rising star for some time. For obvious reasons however, one player from amongst The Vipers caught our collective eye. He’s Fraser Speirs, the coolest Laird o’ the Moothie. This man has been a beacon for the diatonic for decades. You can see him in action here with Tam White.

Anyway, we just had to share it with you. So turn up your sound system, grab your G major diatonic (2nd position) and get with the groove! Happy Harping.

And by the way… in case you were wondering, it’s here. And yes he does the Bear Necessities too! For more information on this track and the harmonica content, see our follow up post Pencil Full Of Lead – Which Harmonica?

The Good Doctor’s Patent Blues Remedy

See me, feel me, touch me, heal me.

with Gordon RussellThe Harp Surgery has been live for many months now, crammed with advice about how to do it, who else did it, when they did it, why they did it, where to hear it and what’s good about it. A lot of words for a music site. Well, we think it’s about time the Good Doctor opened his harp case and shared the medicine round. At some point you have to cut the chat and let the music do the talking. People, the Patent Blues Remedy is now live. Close all the doors, slide the phone off the hook, click here and get your fix.

You will hear edited highlights of tracks from both albums by The BlackjacksWhat’s The Deal? and High Roller, samples from the Doc’s contribution to The Blue Hearts, The Elevators, Boy Cried Wolf and a secret snippet from a recent commercial music library blues CD.

We look forward to adding further tracks in the months to come and also embellishing the Surgery’s instructional pages with sound bites. Oh, and keep it strictly between yourselves, but there is rumour of the Doc making his inaugural podcast on YouTube. All coming to a PC near you. Stay tuned.

Happy harping!

Introducing Elwood The Apprentice

I’ll have to prescribe the strongest medicine I’ve got

JT30We have some important news dear reader. In recent weeks, the popularity of the Harp Surgery has been growing faster than a wheat field on eco-friendly fertilizer. ‘Great stuff’ we hear you say – and we don’t mean the cow poo.

Unfortunately for the Good Doctor, this has resulted in long hours of chain-gang labour which, at his time in life, is really not good for the health. For a moment we were worried he had contracted the rockin’ pneumonia and the boogie woogie flu. Which is a grave situation for harp players. When tooting the blues burger, there is nothing more ornery than cold sores, snot and breathlessness – apart perhaps from a wah-wah hand that has recently been chopping onions. Either way, it’s hard to sustain your throat vibrato. (more…)

Messin’ With The Kid

What’s this I hear going all around town?

It was a great honour for the Harp Surgery to receive an email from Junior Wells’ daughter yesterday, confirming the legend that the great Junior Wells was indeed buried alongside a tray of Lee Oskar harmonicas. In a recent interview with Lee Oskar, the maestro couldn’t recall the full facts from that sad day, however it is now clear the friendship he had with Junior was a very special one. Then most unexpectedly the Harp Surgery received the following astonishing e-mail..

This is to verify that Jr Wells was buried with Lee Oskar harmonicas. I know this to be a fact because I was there at the funeral. Mr Oskar also played the most beautiful song (solo). I have never heard a harp played that way before. I would like to thank him for being his friend and honoring us with his presence. The reason I know all of this is because Jr was my dad. I miss him everyday but his fans and friends help keep him alive for our family. May God bless and keep all of you. Thanks Jr’s Family

Martin May 1957-2009

Martin May 1957-2009

It is with deep sorrow that I have to report the passing of Martin May, a pillar of the live music scene in Brighton & Hove. Those of you who knew Martin will remember him for his blistering guitar work, his huge personality and the relentless energy he put into live music. He was central not only to gigs and charity events around the City, but also in supporting and welcoming the efforts of budding newcomers to the circuit. I am sure you will join me in saluting this amazing man. Our thoughts are with his partner Sue and his immediate family. He will be deeply missed and we thank him for the magic he gave us all.

Louis Borenius 1949-2009

It is with great sadness that I have to relate the passing of Louis Borenius; husband, father, friend, and musician. Louis died of heart failure in Salisbury Hospital early last week. The news has come as a deep shock to all who knew him.

Some of you will have enjoyed performances by The Blackjacks over the years. Whether it was at the UK national blues festival, other nationwide venues, Ain’t Nothin’ But in London’s Soho, or locally here in Brighton & Hove, Louis was an integral and vital figure. And not just with the Blackjacks. He also drummed or played vibraphone for Coup d’Etat, Big Chief, Bop Brothers and countless other top jazz, blues and rock ensembles. Indeed Louis’ pedigree extends right back to the early jazz days of Ronnie Scotts and the UK’s emerging live music scene. You mention them, he’s played with them.

Today’s service was a beautiful testament to one of life’s rarest gentlemen, intellectuals, humanitarians and gifted music makers. Over 200 assembled to pay their respects. And those who couldn’t join the funeral sent their condolences or turned out for the evening’s wake at Brighton’s Komedia. As one friend put it so perfectly, Louis knew so many high profile musicians, yet he always remained wonderfully grounded. (more…)