As regular visitors to the Surgery will know, we hold immense respect for the work Steve Baker does in harmonica education and as a consultant to Hohner harmonicas. Having proudly hosted Steve at our Harpin’ By The Sea Festival in 2013, we recently stumbled upon his Step by Step module for blues harp beginners. Ever curious, we duly purchased a copy so we could take a good look under the hood. Here’s what we found. (more…)
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.
Today Otis the Harp Surgery’s postman dropped off a delivery from those lovely people at Amazon; 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.
‘Pour l’amour de Dieu’, the Good Doctor sympathised as he gingerly opened the Surgery’s front door, ‘come inside and warm yourself before you freeze your assets’. ‘Don’t mind if I do’, replied Otis pausing from his musical méandre, ‘Get that kettle on. Mine’s a Julie Andrews’. (more…)
Ignoring the politics of blues music is like ignoring the crocodile swimming in your Coco Pops. Elwood the Apprentice looks at Gussow’s essays on how to position yourself within the blues tradition.
“He was wearing a pink tuxedo and patent leather shoes. He towered over me… Suddenly he was quivering with anger, his finger in my face. “You don’t know me. You don’t know anything about me. You don’t know where I’ve been.” – Whose Blues?, Adam Gussow.
Note: This is a long post, so I’m going to reward those who read to the bottom by revealing the identity of the man in the pink tuxedo who challenges Adam Gussow backstage in the late 1990s. (more…)
Elwood the Apprentice seeks wisdom in the holy scriptures (of blues harmonica)
[UPDATE: Part 2 of the review is now live.]
Well, as I was saying – it’s the end of a Gussow era but not the end of the Gussow era. There’ll be no more free YouTube lessons, but there’s more Gussow wisdom to be harvested for the apprentice blues player – assuming you’ve not yet read Journeyman’s Road: Modern Blues Lives from Faulkner’s Mississippi to Post-9/11 New York.
“In the skilled blue-collar trades,” writes Gussow, “a journeyman is a way station and job category: no longer an apprentice, not yet a master.”
Well, there you have it. This delightful patchwork of essays, scatter shot and rapid-fire in their wisdom, chronicles Gussow’s journey to becoming a master – and he’s crammed in every titbit of wisdom accrued along the way. It’s like a little street manual on how to graduate from your apprenticeship and start the sometimes weary trudge towards mastery. There are threads on blues culture, threads on jam session etiquette and ‘sitting in’, threads on blues history and blues future. And the result is a palimpsest which, when held up to the light, might just give us new ways to understand ourselves. (more…)
I like it, I love it, I want some more of it..
Don’t just sit there, check out our Music Store and order a copy now. You’d be stark staring mad not to. This is a phenomenal piece of work. It is THE comprehensive tutorial book we’ve all been sitting around hoping someone, some day might eventually drop in our laps. You probably know the basics – and Winslow reviews these in his clear and engaging way – but what about that scary stuff beyond blow bending, octaving, tongue blocking and first, second or third positional playing?
For too long now we’ve been led, often erroneously, from entry level into the realms of intermediate playing and then abandoned like a McDonalds wrapper in the car park of life. Anything else has to be begged, borrowed or stolen from resources on YouTube or from pros who suffer extreme poverty of time. So we tend to give up and our development is curtailed. For ever. Alternatively the available information is so horribly technical that a nice cup of tea with Otis, or a comfy chair and re-run of Friends is infinitely more compelling. (more…)