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Re: "Do you ONLY play the harmonica?" and other stupid

PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 2:17 pm
by jeffl
Hey FF, I was one of those drunks at an earlier time in my life; I'd given up playin' mostly and still wanted to identify with musicians, so I'd play harp at a table during breaks, and do other stupid things. In general, musicians were still nice to me, but I'm sure I was a needless annoyance at times. And I agree that playing in public requires a moderate amount of tolerance...after all, we're there for the people, they're not there to serve us. Harp is one of those instruments that everybody can get some kind of sound out of, and any idiot can be taught a basic harp blues lick in 5 minutes if there's no bends, so it's an easy target for wannabes. If you pick up a violin or sax or trumpet, you're probably not gonna get anything close to a recognizable, pleasant sound out of it unless you've learned the basics on it.

Re: "Do you ONLY play the harmonica?" and other stupid

PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2008 1:13 am
by mike932
I am learning to play the chromatic harp, one harp no problems. After being forced to play slant harp and not having a minor F harp for a song I have decided to do the chromatic thing. I figure it will take about a year before I am ready to gig with it. I read music, understand basic theory and used to take piano lessons, so I figure it will be a good path to take. I did figure out how to play minor scales on a hohner 364 (key of C) but the chromatic should be a step in the right direction.

Re: "Do you ONLY play the harmonica?" and other stupid

PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 9:32 pm
by too2tall
Here's another one...when ever I pull out my harmonicas with people I haven't played with before they always break into a blues song. Like the only kind of music I can play on a harmonica is blues. When they ask me if I want them to play a BB King or Muddy Waters song I say " Do you know any Coltrane? " This always gets an interesting response. Nothing against the blues as I love it but come on it's just one of many types of music I love to play.

Re: "Do you ONLY play the harmonica?" and other stupid

PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 9:43 pm
by too2tall
I have had guys want to play harmonica with the band and they always think they can play and some might but I always say
"that's what open mic nights are for" and then tell them to find a club that has open mic night.

Re: "Do you ONLY play the harmonica?" and other stupid

PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:14 pm
by jeffl
I've never understood people bein' insensitive to the giggin' band's situation. I know alotta musicians in our market, and I'll frequently get asked up when I'm out on the town. I always have harps with me and will gladly accept invitations, but I ALWAYS tell them not to feel obligated to ask me up jus' cuz I'm there. I'm very sensitive to the flow of the sets, and if the band switches streams a little bit to accomodate a guest, it can cool the flow of the set, imo. So, I tell them that if I'm still there later in the evening and haven't played yet, DON'T FEEL OBLIGATED TO GET ME UP. Do what you think is best for the gig. Sometimes gettin' me up will light a fire under the joint, but it can also force their 2nd guitarist into a role he's not accustomed to, which can damage a groove in the set. Another little issue is that a band's following gets to know you when that band has asked you to sit in a number of times, and then they'll start lobbying the bandleader to get you up. It's all taken with gratitude on my part, but I do feel like I'm imposing sometimes, which is not a good feeling, even if you're playin' great with 'em.

Re: "Do you ONLY play the harmonica?" and other stupid

PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:16 pm
by angerboy
Bubba - I never ask to sit in with other people's bands, but if they invite me, I no longer say no. I have had discussions like that with people that are generous enough to let me sit in with them. The response is almost always the same.

"If I didn't want you to play, I wouldn't have asked you to join us."

The words may be different, but the message was pretty consistent. There never was a feeling of obligation just a gesture of friendship and/or respect. It's their gig, they know how to manage in their best interest. Since, I don't ask, I appreciate it when people offer to let me play on a couple of tunes.

Re: "Do you ONLY play the harmonica?" and other stupid

PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 10:19 pm
by david
When Steve Martin was on the Tonight Show promoting the album he put out with Tony Trishka and Bella Flek with three very hot banjos, Jay Leno asked if he played any other instruments, or just the banjo.

Steve Martin's response: "If YoYo Ma were sitting here would you ask him, 'Do you play any other instruments, or just the cello'?"

Re: "Do you ONLY play the harmonica?" and other stupid

PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2008 3:09 pm
by jbone1
"Actually, I like Dylan's harp playing. It's not blues, but it's melodic and it really accompanies his style well. I got started on harp by listening to Dylan, but obviously moved on to blues."

dylan did not want to be mistaken for a blues player so he went at it from a different direction. and he did some incredible pieces of harp work! try doing what he did on "tangled up in blue" for example

Re: "Do you ONLY play the harmonica?" and other stupid

PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2008 4:31 pm
by jeffl
Yer right,Jawbone. We've always confused playing an instrument technically great with making great music. There have always been musicians around who had a technical grasp of their instrument(s) as good as any successful popular guys, but who were coverin' tunes in bars their whole lives without getting any recognition. And there's a big need for those guys. Alotta these guys are better on their instruments than guys who have made millions of dollars. Dylan's harp playin' is of a style that is designed to allow solo musicians to enhance their guitar or piano songs. Dylan, Tom Petty, Steve Earle.... those guys are not trying to be Little Walter. I'm essentially a harp player first, but I play keyboards alot 'cuz there's a need for it...I'm not tryin' to be the greatest keyboarder out there...I'm just tryin' to enhance the sound. Guys could pick my keyboard playin' apart, or they can ask themselves "What would this tune sound like without the keys, and is he makin' the tune better...?"

Re: "Do you ONLY play the harmonica?" and other stupid

PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 6:31 am
by tobiepsg
dcblues wrote:they're surpised that someone would only play harp. And, slightly related, guitarists/band leaders at jams always assume you only play second position.

Funny how our situations differ! I do play other instruments but get sent back to my harps by the band on a regular basis (perhaps my 'other instrument' playing is really bad?) :oops:

Every time I try to educate my band members about '2nd position' their confused, blank stares make me stop half-way... :?

bosco wrote:"Just tell me what key the song is in" is my standard response as well. Half the time they're wrong anyway.

That's me - just gimme the key and leave me alone! They seem to mostly mix up their 'supposed keys' with its 2nd position counterparts...

jeffl wrote:really; does anybody keep playin' in the wrong key?

No way. Takes me 3 sec's to realise someone's out. If it's 'them', I grab another instrument with which it's easy to find the right key (e.g. dobro). Or worst case scenario: I revert to a generic-key instrument like a tambourine! :wink:

Re: "Do you ONLY play the harmonica?" and other stupid

PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 8:47 pm
by jeffl
It is good to be able to play more than harp, imo. With the economy as tight as it is here, alotta bands don't wanna carry a harper if they can avoid it. Sometimes they don't wanna admit it if your harp playin' takes the band to a whole different level and really gives them a draw...it can be an ego thing in addition to being a financial consideration.

Re: "Do you ONLY play the harmonica?" and other stupid

PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2008 6:51 am
by bottleneck
i like to figure out ways to make gus work for me.it is pretty funny though when gus puts himself right on your level,saying things like "i play with that band all the time!"sometimes ,actually with a TRUE gus,all the time,gus does not have a clue.haha

http://www.myspace.com/shakeylyman

Re: "Do you ONLY play the harmonica?" and other stupid

PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2008 5:02 am
by tobiepsg
jeffl wrote:It is good to be able to play more than harp, imo.

The reason why I don't like doing harp on all songs is that the harp can be a very dominating instrument if the soundman allows it to be (I know, you wanna ask "And your point is...?") however It did not take me too long to realise that the most value from a harp is to chip in when the audience least expect it - and then to withdraw just enough to make them wish it would come back (or I blend in with the band so that only those who really listens for it, will hear it).

I'll usually use it at the most on half of the songs we're doing, preferably on about a third.

Re: "Do you ONLY play the harmonica?" and other stupid

PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:33 pm
by dcblues
It is good to be able to play more than harp, imo. With the economy as tight as it is here, alotta bands don't wanna carry a harper if they can avoid it.


I've never had that problem, especially with the current band. We have seven instruments, and every one is essential. We have a gig in September I can't play because I have a wedding to attend. Instead of trying to get a replacement for one gig, or play without me, we rescheduled the gig.

It's probably a little bit different for me, since I'm the harp player and part of the horn section.

Re: "Do you ONLY play the harmonica?" and other stupid

PostPosted: Tue Jul 15, 2008 12:58 pm
by jeffl
dcblues wrote:
It is good to be able to play more than harp, imo. With the economy as tight as it is here, alotta bands don't wanna carry a harper if they can avoid it.


I've never had that problem, especially with the current band. We have seven instruments, and every one is essential. We have a gig in September I can't play because I have a wedding to attend. Instead of trying to get a replacement for one gig, or play without me, we rescheduled the gig.

It's probably a little bit different for me, since I'm the harp player and part of the horn section.

Well, you should feel fortunate,dcb-- and probably do. You play in a much better market than I do, and you've found a great situation. My problems have occurred when one situation went to hell and it became time to look around for different opportunities. I'm not a frontman, so that creates more limitations. I guess my point is (finally) that if you're talented enough, it's good to be able to do different things in a band with a high level of effectiveness. Harp happens to be the only thing I do well enough to be able to give people memories, whereas on keyboards I satisfy myself with being competent but much more limited in my abilities. It has been very helpful to be able to play boards though, especially when leading some blues tunes at our jams.