Four Things (Nearly) Every Harp Player Does

So, you still want to be a harp player, huh? Well son, every creature has its hobbies, and if you want to pass yourself off as the real thing, you better learn how to blend in. In Part 2 of his ethnoblography, Figuring Out The Harp Player, Elwood sketches out a few key points.

It is an established fact that over 98 percent of harmonica players are white, English-speaking men between the ages of 30 and 65. (The other two percent are women and Ismael Lo.) When they are not sleeping, eating or trying on ugly hats, they typically divide their time between four activities:

1. Wishing someone would “bring back” eight-track tapes.

2. Singing about havin’ dem bad ole impoverished cotton-pickin’ blues… normally in the basement of their very comfortable suburban homes.

3. Dreaming of a parallel universe in which Little Walter lives to be 100 and becomes President of the United States of America. Every week instead of giving fireside chats on the radio like Roosevelt, he broadcasts a profane half hour of tips and tricks for the harmonica-playing nation. It would be like Adam Gussow’s YouTube channel but, you know, more presidential. Probably a little more hooched-up, too.

4. Shaking their head in bewilderment at hip hop culture. (“Dang it sonny, if fifties music was good enough for the fifties, why the heck can’t it be good enough for you?!”) To show their disapproval of youths whose pants dangle around their ankles, many middle-aged harp players will compensate by hiking their pants right beneath the armpits. Hey, if it was good enough for the fifties…

In addition to this – but perhaps not important enough to merit a place on the list – harmonica players will also spend a few minutes each week practising scales and the four-hole bend. If they can find time, that is.

Elwood is the guest blogger for The Harp Surgery’s Apprenticeship Series. In his spare time he’s a grad student in London. Follow him on Twitter, if you like.

4 thoughts on “Four Things (Nearly) Every Harp Player Does

  • October 2, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Well, ya got the 98% right.

  • October 6, 2009 at 6:13 am

    It is what it is. I personally have reach the point of being a full fledged harmonica player. I have been told by the wife that I practice too much, don’t care about anything but the Blues, and asked if she should move out. I hear a blues song coming on. Oh Yah!

  • November 1, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    Woohoo! I’m a minority 🙂

    Not sure about the ugly hats but as well as lamenting the continued shyness of my 2 draw bend, I like to drink coffee, ride motorcycles and play blues harp on the 4th plinth….

  • November 5, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    There are exceptions to every rule (except this one). Tony, I hope you hang on to your wife… but if she does leave you, it seems Highwaylass and you share a passion (aside from harmonica, I mean).

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