Whammer Jammer […with tab]

J. Geils Band - Full HouseYou gonna get it all down, get it all night, get it all right, get it out of sight and get it down baby?

Here’s the top entry in our ‘I wanna play like that’ hit list. Originally recorded on the J.Geils Band studio album The Morning After in 1971, Whammer Jammer reappeared a year later on the classic live album Full House. It is a power harping beast of the highest order.

Like the lunar landing, or the fall of the Berlin Wall, every power harp fan can remember when and where they were first Whammered! So, it’s time to reminisce a little, do some research and then, with the help of modern technology, deconstruct the song for you. Key of A major ten hole diatonics harps at the ready..

Boogie On Reggae Woman..[with tab]

Stevie Wonder diatonic harmonica

It was 1974. With a string of hit singles under his belt, Stevie Wonder recorded Boogie On Reggae Woman amidst some more reflective compositions for his new album, Fullfillingness’ First Finale.

The song’s title is slightly misleading. This is no Trench Town rasta vibe. There is a reggae skank for reference, but underneath it’s as fundamentally funk as Superstition and just as ground breaking.

For Harp Surgery fans, what makes the song especially interesting, is its infusion of a bluesy piano line and some highly expressive first-position blues harping. Let’s look more closely..


1st Position Blues Harp – An Introduction (Part 3)

A guide to straight blues harping

In previous posts we considered why 1st position blues can sometimes be left in the shadows. We also touched on building a general awareness of positional playing, how some positions are interchangeable, the Ionian Mode, the low end 1st position blues scale and some low end 1st position signature riffs.

One thing is certain; played well, the top register of the blues harp packs a mighty punch and it’s a crowd pleaser. Any blues harp player who likes to showboat will agree. John Popper of Blues Traveler rips it up with his quickfire high end licks. Sugar Blue blows us away in high altitude 3rd position, while Magic Dick blows the roof off with some soaring cross harp blow bends. In fact a long list of stars knock us down every time with their death-defying, high wire antics. However, it’s not only the fast stuff that delivers. Let’s enjoy a 1st position blues montage then get cracking again.

Listen to

Blow Bending… that ‘Mini-Gillespie’

Ken had a very productive session this evening, learning how to blow bend. He reminded the Good Doctor the first blow bend on hole 10 is necessary to complete the upper major octave (doh-ray-me..):

7B 8D 8B 9D 9B 10D (first blow bend..) 10B’ 10B.

We read through the blow bend page from the Harp Surgery menu and put it into practice. With patience and one-to-one coaching, Ken had his first blow bend (8 hole on an A harp) nailed within ten minutes.

His feedback? Yippee! And the ‘Mini-Gillespie air cushion’ advice on the blow bend page was crucial.