Felling like a second-class citizen…

The lowdown on the Mississippi Sax. Just for Google, this section is about harmonicas.

Felling like a second-class citizen…

Postby eline » Tue Jan 30, 2007 9:22 pm

I’ve been messing around with a harp for a few years now, but haven’t really played on stage. However, since about October I’ve been jamming with a guitarist & drummer who are phenomenal and they really dig my playing (not bragging, but I’m pretty good). Anyways, yesterday I met with a vocalist, who is currently working with a bass player that we’re interested in, so in essence these two would complete the band: perfect. When this vocalist hit me up as to what instrument I played and I replied the harmonica, he asked, “do you play anything else?” At first I didn’t think anything of it and said, “yeah I play a little guitar and some percussion (remember: On the Sideline Post).” He kept hinting at what other things could I do other than play a harmonica, as if this were a problem. This bothered me more and more as the day moved on. It seemed to me that he was discounting the importance of the blues harp, in my opinion. Should I be obligated to be a multi-tasking musician? If we’re playing BLUES and this is a BLUES BAND, is it or is it not okay to just focus on harmonica and some percussion?
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Postby ricochet » Tue Jan 30, 2007 9:37 pm

He's a bozo.
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Postby jeffl » Tue Jan 30, 2007 9:45 pm

Maybe he plays harp too,and wants to take that slot. Or,mebbe he's from the school that it's a waste of money to pay a guy who jus' plays harp. With alotta guys,it's not about how your band is gonna sound the best, it's about how each guy can make the most money; that is understandable since small club pay isn't that great in many areas and if you figure the time it takes to set up,play,and tear down, plus the rehearsal/practice time, the job often doesn't pay very well. If you play harp,it's a very good idea to learn how to sing well,in order to make yourself more valuable to the band. I know this become I'm primarily a harper who sings backup vocals. Another thing is that alotta guys who say they play harp aren't any good, and don't know music, and alotta musicians will assume you are one of those types until you prove differently. Alotta gigging musicians don't have day jobs, and they may be playin' with 2-3 different bands in order to try to make ends meet. If they can cut a share outa the pie,better for them.
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Postby allanlummox » Tue Jan 30, 2007 10:04 pm

So...this vocalist.

Do they play any musical instruments?

I've met quite a few singers who think that they are getting by on sheer talent, and that the rest of the band has to work pretty hard to keep up.

Generally, these turn out to be vocalists with no music theory or instrumental experience.
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Postby NEONMOONY » Tue Jan 30, 2007 10:17 pm

Right, what does he do besides sing? Gyrate?
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Postby eline » Tue Jan 30, 2007 10:32 pm

From what I got out of the conversation, he plays some guitar too. I think the thing that's bothering me is that I got the feeling like he wasn't really interested in me being there, and is really only interested in the lead guitar and drums. It's like when my kids make a face at a food that they've never tried! Doesn't even want to give it a try.
As for the money part of it, I think we all have day jobs, so I really don't know. The real sad part is that I do know about the music, the theory, how to lead the vocalist in and that sort of thing. And I think this is why the other two keep me around, because I'm not just making noise. Anyways, just venting :x
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Postby jeffl » Tue Jan 30, 2007 10:33 pm

I'm still thinkin' that he plays some harp.
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Postby eline » Tue Jan 30, 2007 10:39 pm

Bubba, the singing thing...I know this would make me more valuabe, but it's just not something I'm particularly good at. I would like to be, I desire to be, I've even contemplated voice lessons. I could sing all day here at home and it'll sound okay, but when I tape myself...well I don't like the way I sound so I become self-conscience about my voice. Any ideas?
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Postby jeffl » Tue Jan 30, 2007 10:50 pm

eline wrote:Bubba, the singing thing...I know this would make me more valuabe, but it's just not something I'm particularly good at. I would like to be, I desire to be, I've even contemplated voice lessons. I could sing all day here at home and it'll sound okay, but when I tape myself...well I don't like the way I sound so I become self-conscience about my voice. Any ideas?
Yeah. 1) do more of it 2) get a singing coach. They're like goin' to a clinical psychologist: they know how to fix everything Seriously,if you are gonna stick with harp, make yourself into a singer (nearly anybody without a physical handicap can do it). You need to learn not only how to use your vocal instrument but how to phrase and breath properly as well. Nothin' good happens over night,but you'll be much more employable as a harper if you know lotsa blues tunes,and you can sing. It'll come with time. Eric Clapton made himself into a singer. I know lotsa guys who weren't very good when they first started,and when I ran into 'em years later, they shocked me with how much they'd improved, and became good. Also, learn as much as you can about the other instruments and their accompanying equipment,so you'll understand what you're trying to put your band through. It's a good idea to know as much about music as possible, so if you lack knowledge of basic chord structure and keys, and rhythm, you might wanna work with guys who know more than you,so you can ask questions and observe.
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Postby angerboy » Wed Jan 31, 2007 12:55 am

If it bothers you the more you think about it, maybe you should stop thinking about it. It never hurts to expand your network of musically talented friends. Go to some blues jams and get yourself on stage. Getting on stage will improve your ability massively.
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Postby thebluesbox » Wed Jan 31, 2007 3:12 am

tell this vocalist you could play by yourself and have a crowd tappin thier foot and it will sound like blues. If he sings by himself he will prolly just sound like a depressed person lookin for a donation.

I could listen to a cd all day with drums guitar and harp, and I can do with out the vocals. But I dont care for a blues cd with only drums guitar and vocals unless its every 2 or 3 songs on the cd. So tell this cat he's not as important as you :-) public opinion has spoken !!!!!!! WooT!
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Re: Felling like a second-class citizen…

Postby barbequebob » Wed Jan 31, 2007 3:33 pm

eline wrote:I’ve been messing around with a harp for a few years now, but haven’t really played on stage. However, since about October I’ve been jamming with a guitarist & drummer who are phenomenal and they really dig my playing (not bragging, but I’m pretty good). Anyways, yesterday I met with a vocalist, who is currently working with a bass player that we’re interested in, so in essence these two would complete the band: perfect. When this vocalist hit me up as to what instrument I played and I replied the harmonica, he asked, “do you play anything else?” At first I didn’t think anything of it and said, “yeah I play a little guitar and some percussion (remember: On the Sideline Post).” He kept hinting at what other things could I do other than play a harmonica, as if this were a problem. This bothered me more and more as the day moved on. It seemed to me that he was discounting the importance of the blues harp, in my opinion. Should I be obligated to be a multi-tasking musician? If we’re playing BLUES and this is a BLUES BAND, is it or is it not okay to just focus on harmonica and some percussion?


Eline, you have finally hit the cold, hard, reality of how harmonica is percieved by many musicians who do play other instruments because they're used to the horrible quality of musicianship of the large majority of harmonica players, sad but true, as what they've seen are these really horrible rock front people who play godawful harp or the other thing that comes to mind: Bob Dylan. Many harp players too often have poor rhythm and 'comping skills, don't know that there are times that the best sound to make is none at all, and often have no clue about even the most basic of music theory at all, all of which those who play other instruments are usually going to have. So you see, harmonica players too often deserve the dreaded stereotype (because 85% of the time they fulfill it and often are too clueless to know and understand this is exactly what they're doing) of being the dumbest musician on the bandstand. Harsh words, but far too often true!!!
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Postby dblues » Wed Jan 31, 2007 3:51 pm

Start your own band and take charge. Also helps if you own the PA system :lol: :D
Seriously, unless you are a GREAT harp player, it will help immensely if you sing, play another instrument or compose/write original material.
Better yet, all three!!!
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Postby jeffl » Wed Jan 31, 2007 5:59 pm

Singing,playing harp,and fronting your own band will allow you to drive your band as well. You can drive a band with your voice and your instrument. Many bands are technically proficient,but they lack energy and drive. You can impart this to your rhythm section and they'll love you for it.
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Postby songdog » Thu Feb 01, 2007 8:15 pm

Aside from the many poor harp players out there giving us all a bad rap :D the harmonica has never really been accepted as a rock'n roll instrument so I think it just comes with the territory if you're trying to fit in with a rock band. It's much more accepted in blues bands so find yourself a good blues band or start your own.

Alternatively, I think every harp player should pack a cow bell in their harp case. When the asshole vocalist asks you to take a break or play a different instrument for awhile.... just break out the cow bell and really get after it!!!

MORE COW BELL!

He'll be begging you to go back to the harp in no-time.
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