Mikey Jr. and Deak Harp

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Mikey Jr. and Deak Harp

Postby dcblues » Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:11 am

I went to great blues harp show this weekend. Mikey Jr. was in town with his band, and he had Illinois harp player Deak Harp (a James Cotton protege) with him. The show was at Surf Club Live (formerly Chick Hall's Surf Club, which I had written about before. This great local roadhouse/honky tonk was going to shut down for good last November but a local music lover bought it and he's keeping it alive.) I expected a huge crowd, with all of the local harp players attending, but it was a pretty small crowd. I guess the word hasn't really gotten out yet that the place is still going strong. The owner told me they had 200 people for The Nighthawks last week, so I guess it depends on who is playing there and promotion.

I met Mikey a couple of years ago and we became good friends the first time we hung out (at the Baltimore Blues Society contest my band won). He's a young guy - I think he's 27 - and a hell of a player. He's been playing for about ten years and he's as good as people who have been playing for decades.

He was happy to see me and he asked me if I brought my harps. I did, in case Mikey wanted me to sit in with him (he usually does).

Mikey started out the show doing some excellent George Smith style chromatic. He got Deak up after a few songs, and they traded solos and vocals. He didn't do his original material when they played together. They mostly played standard Chicago blues (probably because Deak's band wasn't there so they could play stuff they both knew). It was like an encyclopedia of postwar blues harp.

Mikey called me up during the first set and we had three harp players on stage for a few songs. That can be chaotic, but we all knew when to play and when not to play. One of the songs we did was Billy Boy Arnold's "I Wish You Would." At one point I was playing the lick that runs through the verse on the higher end while Deak was playing it on the lower end. If you know the song (and you should!) you'll know what I'm talking about.

They got me up again at the end of night and we had a blast. Both of these guys are great players, and you should check them out if you have a chance.
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Re: Mikey Jr. and Deak Harp

Postby jeffl » Tue Apr 15, 2008 3:29 pm

That sounds like great fun, dc! That 3 harp part sounds fun too. I'm with you...I've always approached those situations with trepidation, but when you got vets with ears, it's doable and can be great. Thanks for the heads up on the harper.
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Re: Mikey Jr. and Deak Harp

Postby sixtyminuteman » Wed Apr 16, 2008 1:50 pm

I was also at this show and there was some outstanding harp playing. DCBlues (Steve Levine) and I sat at the bar and chatted a bit. They played a lot of the great blues standards. MikeyJr did some fine slow chrome playing. And he does a lot of octaves on the diatonic a la Wm Clarke. Steve got up there and play some great licks. Blues fans in the New Jersey area should check out MikeJr.

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Re: Mikey Jr. and Deak Harp

Postby dcblues » Thu Apr 17, 2008 2:09 pm

Thanks Dave. I might see you at the Zoo Bar jam tonight.
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