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Big Road Blues Discussion Forums 2010-02-15T00:53:24+00:00 2010-02-15T00:53:24+00:00 <![CDATA[Re: Seasoned Players]]> Statistics: Posted by Toe — Mon Feb 15, 2010 12:53 am

2010-02-06T17:35:46+00:00 <![CDATA[Re: Seasoned Players]]>
When I was in my late teens/early 20s, I used to sit in with my cousin's blues band (he's a guitarist.) They had one of the best harp players in the region in their band. He used to take me aside and lecture me (with a mug of beer and a cigarette, you could still smoke in bars back then!) about playing, and I sort of became his protege. He told me to listen to Little Walter, Sonny Boy and Big Walter. I wasn't much into Big Walter then, but, boy did that change!

One night he told me about tongue blocking. Before then I thought tongue blocking was only good for octaves in blues, and generally only good for playing polkas. He set me right by explaining the tongue slap. I can still remember that night, going to an empty booth in the bar and trying it, and it worked! Changed my whole perception of playing and helped me understand what some of the masters played.

I learned first position blues not from Jimmy Reed, but from Big Walter. The first time I heard "Hard Hearted Woman" I tried to play along with it with a D harp. I realized that Walter was using an A harp and was amazed that first position could sound so great. That song and his version of Trouble in Mind is where I get probably 90% of my first position licks.

I think I learned third position and playing third position chromatic from harp-l. Once I understood it, chromatic didn't seem so impossible to learn. That happened some time in the mid 90s.

I think my most recent milestone was going back to the original version of Big Walter's "Easy." I've been playing it with my band for years, but we do it a little bit different. I usually play the first four verses like the record, play an extended solo, and end it with the last verse. I wanted to play along with the record to see if I was doing it right. About half way through (and I don't want to imply that I'm anywhere near Big Walter), I couldn't tell who was playing. I knew the song so well it sounded like the record!

Sometimes when I play now I play something with no effort that sounds like a pro. I step back amazed by how I sound and realize that decades of working on it have paid off.

Keep working on it and you'll get there! I wish I had the internet when I was 15 (and not just for harp stuff! :0)

Statistics: Posted by dcblues — Sat Feb 06, 2010 5:35 pm

2010-02-05T16:32:19+00:00 <![CDATA[Re: Seasoned Players]]> Hard to remember, because when I started playing as a kid in the 50s/60s there was no instructional stuff - you just had to keep playing the record over again and try to work out what on earth was going on. It was even several years before someone explained second position to me - till then I'd been playing simple New Orleans jazz tunes in first position (wish I'd heard Noah Lewis then!) I think the first time I felt what you describe was when I met up with a guitarist in my mid-teens, and we played Sonny Terry/Brownie McGee's "Walk On". The world was at our feet! Then came other Sonny Terry stuff, Hammie Nixon, Jimmy Reed, the two Sonny Boys ... and off I went.

For me, the best guys to learn from are Sonny Boy II and Little Walter, because they're all about beautiful tone, and timing, and big holes in the music. Most harp players (and guitarists) play too many damn notes, and there's no space for feeling. I'm still learning from players who knock me out today - only nowadays they tend to be half my age! :D

Statistics: Posted by spanoghe — Fri Feb 05, 2010 4:32 pm

2010-02-05T15:13:07+00:00 <![CDATA[Re: Seasoned Players]]> . Shortly after that, and while visiting Phoenix, I got to play Juke with Bob Corritore's house band at the Rhythm Room. So while Juke wasn't the first tune I learned, it's the one that stands out most from the early years.

Statistics: Posted by songdog — Fri Feb 05, 2010 3:13 pm

2010-02-03T16:31:27+00:00 <![CDATA[Re: Seasoned Players]]> Statistics: Posted by jeffl — Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:31 pm

2010-02-03T15:36:08+00:00 <![CDATA[Re: Seasoned Players]]> Statistics: Posted by Toe — Wed Feb 03, 2010 3:36 pm

2010-02-02T01:44:43+00:00 <![CDATA[Seasoned Players]]> Statistics: Posted by Toe — Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:44 am