Felling like a second-class citizen…

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

Postby ricochet » Thu Feb 01, 2007 9:56 pm

Or a kazoo.
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Postby steel1953 » Fri Feb 02, 2007 5:04 am

Unfortunately, Barbeque Bob hit the nail on the head. For example, alot of people think I'm a great harp player.
Why? Truth? They haven't heard/played with great players. I'm an average joe if you put me in the true world of harp players. Heck, I can't even overblow. But I don't play all the time/every chance I get. I stop playing during other peoples solos. Play with lots of dynamics. Listen to the other people, and play something that fits what they're singing/playing.
These are just some examples of things you can do to seperate yourself from the pack of so called harp players. Good taste is just one of the three essentials. Taste, technique, and tone. Sounds to me like you're already on your way Eline.


In the long run, Ricky Nelson said it best in the song Garden Party.

"You can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself"

The world is a big place. In it are lots of people that would like to play with you, and you them. You just haven't met them yet. Get out to more jam sessions.
They're out there............
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Postby NEONMOONY » Fri Feb 02, 2007 12:28 pm

the harmonica has never really been accepted as a rock'n roll instrument


In the Chicago area , a good harper gets mucho respect especially in rock/blues genres even though there are lots of 'em. I've been invited to sit in with other bands that didn't have a harper and got plenty of compliments and respect. On one occasion, the band had a, can I say this here, sax (get out the garlic, silver crosses and holy water) and he wasn't too thrilled about it but, other than that, the rest of the band liked it..
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Postby jeffl » Fri Feb 02, 2007 1:14 pm

Even if you are completely competent on your harp, and have a real good working knowledge of the music, it may not help you stay employed in a band if harping is your only contribution. If the musicians know you,and have played with you before,they may overlook the fact that you don't play near as much as they have to--but if you're searching for a band,it'll be best to be able to sing,or play some keyboards.
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Postby dcblues » Fri Feb 02, 2007 3:34 pm

I guess I've been lucky because I've always been treated as an equal in bands I've played with. I can only think of two bands I was in during college where I didn't play on some of the songs they did. And that's because they were bands that played more rock than blues.

When my old acoustic trio started branching out and playing more jazz and swing, they ended up forming a second band (with an amazing female singer) that I didn't play with. Sometimes we would combine both bands for bigger gigs. They stuck more to blues/roots music when we played as a trio.

The band I pay with now could easily get by without a harp player, but the band leader insists on having a harp. He grew up in North Carolina listening to Jimmy Reed, and to him it's not the blues without a harp. I'm not just a harp player who does a few fills and solos - I play a lot of the horn parts with the horn section that's essential to the sound of the band. These guys really know music (especially our sax player, who does most of the arrangements) and they manage to fit me in on songs that I never imagined playing on before.

I would like to learn to sing and front my own band, but in my case it's not necessary to be a first class citizen and band member.
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Postby eline » Fri Feb 02, 2007 3:49 pm

jeffl wrote:but if you're searching for a band,it'll be best to be able to sing,or play some keyboards.


Here’s what getting out of this post, and this really ties in with one of my earlier post, on the sideline. Singing sounds to me that it’s key. I understand music theory, I know when I should be playing harp, meaning knowing what sounds good and when and where to be playing. Up to this point, anybody I’ve played with has express to me that they really enjoyed it and have been invited back. But if I were singing, I think it would complete the package. I’m looking into getting myself a voice coach; I’m just trying to figure out a way to fit it into my budget. I tried to sing at practice once, and it was like I froze with fear and I didn’t sound very good. It was really weird because it was just three or four of us, but I still got really self-conscience. However, I know that this can be overcome. I used to be afraid to speak in front of people; now I teach at two of the local community colleges, with classes up to 45 people, no problem. Anyways I'm all over it!

Check list:
Own band
PA System
Sing
Play more guitar
Kazoo
And or course my favorite and yours…MORE COW BELL!

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eline
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Postby bosco » Sat Feb 03, 2007 2:32 pm

know when I should be playing harp.....what sounds good and where to be playing.....if I were singing, I think it would complete the package

There it is in a nutshell, E.

We opened up for Tommy Castro, Magic Dick, Deanna Bogart and Ronnie Baker Brooks at the State Theatre in Kalamazoo this past Thursday. Afterword, my entire band went to Wonderfuls, (the local blues hangout) which has an open mike on Thursdays.

I watched, and heard, 3 harp players sit in with very talented bands and without exception they all overplayed. Every one. Just non stop wailing and warbles over vocals and through other solos. It just made me cringe and think (again) it's no wonder harpers have an uphill fight.

So now that you've figured out that you shouldn't be playing harp at least 50% of the time, you have to contribute in other ways the other 50%.

There are numerous online singing lessons available to get you started, just google "singing lessons." Finding your vocal range is the place to start. Because you play harp, you should be able to figure out the song key of almost any recorded music. Find the keys you can sing along to and hit all of the notes. Get started now, even if a coach isn't in your budget and play that cowbell!

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Postby barbequebob » Sat Feb 03, 2007 2:51 pm

If you do take up getting vocal lessons, one of the things they will do is improve your breathing because good breathing technique is fundamental to good vocal tone and support, and the same goes for harp and along with improving vocals, it will improve your harp playing tremendously and you'll need much less breath force to play harp and everything will actually improve ten fold.
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Postby bluesfyre » Sat Feb 03, 2007 5:26 pm

Love this topic, it can really make you look at the logistics of being a member in a band. I never have this question come up in my band, BUT, I have felt the scourn from some guitar players at open jams etc. when asked by someone to get up and blow some harp. I laugh at it now. My response to this kind of thinking is now, just play. Owning the PA is a great idea, but if you wanna be really important, do the gig bookings. :-)
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Postby jeffl » Sat Feb 03, 2007 5:37 pm

bluesfyre wrote:Love this topic, it can really make you look at the logistics of being a member in a band. I never have this question come up in my band, BUT, I have felt the scourn from some guitar players at open jams etc. when asked by someone to get up and blow some harp. I laugh at it now. My response to this kind of thinking is now, just play. Owning the PA is a great idea, but if you wanna be really important, do the gig bookings. :-)
We had a deal in the last band I gigged with that the guy who got the booking got $50.00,and then the shares came outa the balance. I know guys who run bands who have cut themselves outa the shares when things get tight,jus' to keep their sidemen goin'.
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Postby angerboy » Sun Feb 04, 2007 12:39 am

bosco wrote:I watched, and heard, 3 harp players sit in with very talented bands and without exception they all overplayed. Every one. Just non stop wailing and warbles over vocals and through other solos. It just made me cringe and think (again) it's no wonder harpers have an uphill fight.

So now that you've figured out that you shouldn't be playing harp at least 50% of the time, you have to contribute in other ways the other 50%.


Isn't that what the current crop of harp players do? It's what a lot of them are trained to do. There is no economy in their playing. They don't listen to what's happening around them. They play like they've got something to prove, instead of playing like they have something to say. The sad thing is that some of these guys are quite gifted.

Some harp players are becoming like guitar players with equipment, too. Some of the guys that I've seen have anti-feedback devices, harp commanders, expensive amplifiers and microphones. It takes them longer to set their crap up than they play. Often it's for the best, I wouldn't want to listen to them wail on their harmonica all night long.
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Postby jeffl » Sun Feb 04, 2007 1:29 pm

Given a choice,I wouldn't play without using a delay or slap-echo any more. I probably do most of my playin' right thru 58s,walkin' up on stage, but a delay would be my choice. I have a Commander too,primarily for use with the Champ. I know a guy who plays through a Pod into the PA...period.
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Postby bosco » Sun Feb 04, 2007 2:02 pm

If you're fond of the 58's, this is a pretty indispensible piece of gear; an inline volume control...perfect for sittin in on harp and using a vocal mic-

Image

Image

Image

You can get them here from Greg Heumman in California-

http://www.blowsmeaway.com/ordering.html

They are available in all configurations, XLR, Switchcraft, 1/4, any combination of these or Greg will custom build one to your specifications. Joe Ferguson, who ran Joe's Virtual online harmonica store from 1995 to 2005 highly recommends Greg's products and service.

Looks like a very useful piece of gear and I plan on ordering one.

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Postby bluesfyre » Sun Feb 04, 2007 3:58 pm

The volume control is a great idea at jams, and open mics. I've actually been thinking about getting my own lighting system, ya know, just for me, when I'm blowin'. I considered one of those giant screens at one point, the one with the single videocam that follows ME around the stage, but the egotistical guitar player thought I was becoming full of MYSELF. ;-)
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Postby jeffl » Mon Feb 05, 2007 1:12 pm

Hey Bosco,I hope you didn't think that I'm fond of 58s,lol! I play alot thru them,but I'm not really fond of them. Thanks for the volume control tip though.
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