Son of Dave – Part 2 : “I’m not really a very clever harp player”

Son of Dave interviewLast month we interviewed the Son of Dave. Here’s the second half of our chat with the beat-boxing harmonica man: this time, he rants about drum-machines, America, nun-raping pop songs, and why he wears sunglasses indoors.

…So I asked some of our readers if they had any questions for you. Here’s one from Adam Gussow.
SoD: He has a question for me?

Why, he has three questions.
SoD: Get the fuck out of here! Well, hi Adam.

Here’s his first question: do you tongue-block or lip-purse, and does that sort of technical question interest you or bore you?
SoD: Tongue block, now stop boring me. (more…)

Son of Dave – Part 1: Same Old Sound, Maybe New Sunglasses

Son of Dave
An interview with blues harmonica man Benjamin Darvil

Son of Dave found his coolness through the only legitimate means available to us skinny white guys: Wearing your granddad’s clothes and a creepy grin, and making bizarre, gut-busting music that goes oomph-a-doomph in the night. The one-man beat-boxing, harmonica-playing phenomenon has a new album coming out on March 22: Shake a Bone. The Harp Surgery’s Apprentice found him in the Blues Kitchen, North London, lurking behind a pair of sunglasses and a huge plate of Tex-Mex. Here’s what he had to say… (more…)

Interview with Christelle Berthon

Elwood the Apprentice in conversation with the undisputed harmonica queen of YouTube.

By turns bold as hell and surprisingly self-doubting, Christelle Berthon is one of the most closely watched harmonica players on the web (over 2 million pairs of eyeballs, according to her YouTube stats). She’s a different kind of harmonica hero: instead of gin-soaked juke joints where the smoke hangs low off the ceiling, she found fame playing to jam tracks in front of a web cam at home.

She took time out of her gruelling practice regime to tell us about her decision to dedicate herself to harmonica, and share some insights to her style and influences. And as we soon found out, chasing the dream ain’t easy.

Old-School Harmonica or New-School?

After chatting to Joe Filisko, Elwood the Apprentice wonders if blues harmonica really needs a war of the clones

a million bullet mics, a million Marine Bands, but just one derivative sound

Those of you who’ve been paying attention will see that I recently posted a (rather overdue) Q&A with Chicago harmonica master Joe Filisko. In a very short conversation in a very noisy pub, which I’ll admit was not conducive to nuanced debate, he contended that harmonica should stay rooted in tradition: “One might argue,” he said, “that the harmonica sounds best played as it was played in the Fifties. And if it sounds best, then why not do it?

Now, it ain’t easy arguing about harmonica with Joe Filisko. He’s nice about it, but one can hardly forget that a single horn-like blast from his Marine Band could reduce poor Elwood into nothing more than a pair of smoking Hush Puppies.

But I gotta say that Filisko’s traditionalism is just something I can’t quite swallow. (more…)

5 Questions for Joe Filisko

Joe FiliskoElwood the Apprentice chats to the master of old-school blues harmonica

[UPDATE: Epilogue is now live – Old-school harmonica or new school?]

For a man bearing such a burden, you’d think Joe Filisko would have broader shoulders. I mean, considering he hoisted the entire tradition of blues harmonica up on them things, you’d think he’d be wide as a Buick.

Perched on a high stool with nothing but a harp, a mic and a couple of stories, his one-man show is like an oral ethnography of the blues harp tradition (see the Good Doctor’s review). Considering Filisko devoted decades to studying and mastering the styles of bluesmen long deceased, there’s just about nobody in the world who knows more about what it takes to be a Walter, Big or Small, or a Sonny of any kind.