Great Blues Podcasts

Elwood's House of Blues radioElwood the Apprentice samples some juicy blues folklore

The problem with the information age is that there’s just too damned much of the stuff. With all this delicious info floating about in cyber space, who has time for real life? Instead of playing harmonica, I can fritter away hours watching harp on YouTube, listening to harp on last.fm, reading about harp on forums, thinking about playing harp all the time but never actually doing so.

This is a filthy habit, as I’m sure you’re well aware – but like most filthy habits, worth indulging in every so often. One such indulgence is this treasure trove of interviews conducted by the other Elwood, Dan Ackroyd, on his House of Blues Radio show.

His team has released dozens and dozens of little podcasts, representing a kind of bite-sized bank of blues legend wisdom: Eric Clapton, John Lee Hooker, Koko Taylor, Ray Charles, Taj Mahal, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Otis Rush, and many, many more. [I would like to emphasise the “many, many” aspect.]

These are titbits, tasters, little snacks of information to be taken in complement to a more substantial meal. But delicious they are: did you know, for instance, that Albert King’s struggle with literacy made it a challenge for him to learn lyrics? I didn’t, until William Bell of Stax described how he used to whisper the upcoming lines to King during recording sessions.

I’ll leave you to root around in there, get lost for a few minutes or a couple of hours, and harvest whatever wisdom you’d care to. As a small sample of the flavour, though, here’s a little anecdote from Robert Plant about the day he met Sonny Boy II:

I was taking a leak, I was in the bathroom and Sonny Boy came in. He was about 8 inches taller than me and he was wearing a harlequin suit… Now he’s taking a leak and I’m taking a leak and I’m saying – as a million people have said to me – “Mr Williamson, I want to thank you; you’ve been such a great influence and inspiration. Can I have your autograph?”

And he looked down at me with those big eyes and open mouth with one tooth in, and he said… “Get lost, son.”

And I said, “Thank you.” Great moment for me…

Nice one, other Elwood. I’ll even let you keep the name.

[P.S. if you’d like to be responsible and focus on your playing instead of gabbing around on the net all day, make a pit stop at The Good Doctor’s new page, Harmonica Warm-ups and Workout]

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.

7 thoughts on “Great Blues Podcasts

  • December 15, 2009 at 2:10 pm
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    If you could only own ONE CD/album of a Harp player………..what would it be?

  • December 15, 2009 at 5:20 pm
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    Hi Stuart,
    What a great question. For me there’s no competition – 9 Below Zero’s album Live At The Marquee, featuring Mark ‘The Harp’ Feltham. It’s all there.

  • December 15, 2009 at 6:51 pm
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    Tough question! I’m afraid I could never answer it definitively.

    For the past few weeks I’ve been listening almost exclusively to Sonny Terry. In a few weeks I’ll devote more time to Little Walter. I go through cycles like that, and each time I pick up a little something. But somehow, no one player offers the full spectrum of what I need as a listener.

    Okay, but if you held a gun to my head I’d probably choose Hard Again, a Muddy Waters album featuring James Cotton on harmonica. It was my first blues album and I love it very much. I like to think in its own way it loves me back.

  • December 16, 2009 at 11:01 am
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    Thanks fellas. time to start my Christmas list!

  • December 18, 2009 at 11:47 am
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    Cot a copy of Muddy Waters yesterday – champagne and Reefer is just insane!

  • January 7, 2010 at 3:38 pm
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    They also go very well together for a Saturday breakfast.

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