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. (more…)
Will Wilde’s latest album is out now and he’s touring it in 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. (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.
The Good Doctor had closed the Harp Surgery for the day and was just settling down to a medicinal Jim Beam when the doorbell rang. It was Otis the postman with some extra news for blues harp fans.
Otis had been messing around with the Internet Radio App on his new bluespad and stumbled across Radio Caprice’s twenty-four hour Harmonica Blues channel. Perfect for after-hours listening at the Surgery.
With no particular place to go
Radio Caprice is a free Internet Radio Station broadcast from Russia and can be located through most Internet Radio search engines. Listeners are treated to the classic tones of masters such as James Cotton, Big Walter, Rod Piazza, George Butler and Junior Wells, as well as one or two very pleasant contemporary surprises. Ron Sorin, The Pera Joe Blues Band and Sven Zetterburg are just a couple of examples the Doc and Otis grooved on down to.
Switching to cold shots of Stolyichnaya in celebration, Otis and the Doc stoked the winter coal fire and kicked back for an evening of top class entertainment. David Rotundo’s That Girl had them shimmying like a pair of old hippies on flower power. Nostrovia Radio Caprice!
ONE FROM THE ARCHIVES: Problems with draw 2 came up in a Harp Surgery lesson today, so we thought a revisit was overdue. Here’s our original post from five years ago with some important updates.
Help, my harmonica is broken!
When learning to play individual notes for the first time, 2 draw is often the hardest reed to master. ‘Is it me or is there something wrong with my harmonica?‘ is normally the question that arises. The short answer is, it ain’t the harp!
2 draw is a long old reed moving through a big old slot. And with a choice of one clean and two bent draw notes (as well as an adjacent blow reed that facilitates the bends), the draw reed itself is pretty sensitive. As a beginner, we get the feeling that 2 draw refuses to co-operate. It also seems to empty our lungs much faster than all the other reeds.
Fear not. Let’s look into this together and overcome an important hurdle in every harmonica player’s development. It’s a short process and we promise you it’s all quite painless. (more…)
Slow down chariot, come down easy
Listen up people. The Good Doctor recently dropped into San Francisco for the winter sales, jumped the Caltrain to San Jose and bagged him a bargain. Three for the price of one, plus a surprise bonus.
Now we don’t make this stuff up. As Andy Santana’s band took the stage, the San Jose Sharks fans were busy fuelling up for their scrap with the Minnesota Wild. It was t-shirt weather (in January for crying out loud) and the local brew was tasting just right. Time for a winter feast of west coast blues harmonica. (more…)
In Part 1 we looked at an overview of first position. We considered why it may be something blues players put off till later. We noted that 1st position blues mainly comprises deep low end draw bends and confident high end blow bends, and that the middle octave has little to offer to those who cannot overbend.
We also recommended that blues players develop the ability to identify positional playing by ear. This isn’t as hard as you might believe. It’s like birdsong. You could probably recognise the call of an owl, a seagull or a finch right? Well the three principal blues harp positions also have their own signatures.
In this, the second part of our series, we look at the bottom end blues scale in 1st position and its trade licks. Meantime here’s more of our series theme tune from Nine Below Zero. The song is called Doghouse and it’s from their second album, Don’t Point Your Finger.
No force, however great, can stretch a cord, however fine, into a horizontal line which is accurately straight. Elementary Treatise On Mechanics (William Whewell)
The classic blues harmonica journey starts with a crusade to the Holy Shrine of cross harp. Whereupon, straight harp (normally in the guise of Oh Susannah) is swiftly abandoned. Drunk on the glories of success and now equipped with assault amplifiers and bullet microphones, the crusade is remobilised.
New techniques are won – including tongue blocking, vibrato, blow bends and third position blues – before a pale figure appears on the horizon; the ghost of first position. Time to go back to square one.
You just wait till he does his walkabout and gets up on the table
The Good Doctor found himself back in Vegas for the post-Christmas lull. It was strange seeing folks in coats and jackets complaining about the cold in a City that is normally a kiln. But the white tops on the nearby mountains, the absence of crowds and an ill wind blowing through the valley spelt winter in Sin City.
The Doc was in need of something to warm the soul and what better than a Vegas helping of Rod Piazza & The Mighty Flyers? He jumped a cab and rode out from the Strip to the Boulder Station Hotel and waded across the Casino floor to the The Railhead. Standing in line, he was engaged in conversation by Carol, a regular winter migrant from Michigan. Oh I’ve seen Rod Piazza many times. This your first? she quizzed. The Doc nodded and smiled, showing full British reserve. Oh you just wait till he does his walkabout, gets up on the table and Honey starts playing that piano with her toes. The Doc’s grin broadened. Sounds more like the Cirque du Soleil he thought to himself. (more…)
[Note: competition now closed.]
Harps down, heads up! Our lovely friends at Seydel Söhne are offering you the chance to win an e-voucher to the tune of €30.00 (US residents $40.00). If you submit three correct answers to our quiz before midnight (GMT) Jan.10 2010 and are one of three lucky names drawn at random from the Harp Surgery’s ugly hat, an e-voucher will be winging its way to your inbox.
All you have to do is study our competition questions, find the correct answers on the Seydel Söhne website and drop us an e-mail, stating your country of residence and your three competition answers (you can also access the Seydel Söhne site by clicking the yellow logo in our Partners menu to the right). (more…)