flashless harpin

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flashless harpin

Postby watertore » Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:50 am

Hi All: The more I tune into these harp forums the better I get a feel of where the harp in the blues based musics is going. It has made me realize I am now an odd duck - flashless, space, acoustic, and slow alot of the times. I also realize I spent a lot of years playing the harp fast and as my hair gets more gray, the more I dig these slow, drawn out, flashless, songs. I figure I better keep posting them just in case a younger player might find them a bit different than the norm. Here are tonights on an Ab and 14 hole marine band in C. Walter

gotta get out of here
to myself
just me and my tv
gonna miss you momma
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Re: flashless harpin

Postby jeffl » Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:33 pm

Walter, mebbe your affliction is common to older guys with some years under their belts. :lol: I've always found that I like to work all the elements of harpin'.... tone, rhythm, inflection, etc. For younger guys who gig, I think they might have to throw the audience a bone with some faster licks now and then, but I've discovered that even though I don't work on playin' fast multi-note licks I play alot more quick passing lines than I notice 'cuz I don't think about it... it just happens. I've talked to a few younger players about this, and the serious ones listen and understand. I have also worked on leaving some notes out of some passages when there's not alot of space musically around me; people hear 'em even when they're not there anyway (when they're in the middle of a passing line), especially if one of the other instruments is hitting it with a note or an overtone. Otherwise, their mind will supply it. Jason Ricci is one younger guy out there right now who plays alotta notes that pretty much all make sense, imo. There're no accidents in his music, unlike John Popper.
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Re: flashless harpin

Postby watertore » Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:27 pm

I agree getting older usually means letting go more of the unecessary stuff. I have tried listening to Jasons music many times with an open mind, but I can't listen to it for more than a minute or so. By then, I have seen all he has. The rest just gets redundant. He is very technical, and like you said, knows his stuff. It is just like heavy metal to me though- it sounds good for a few seconds and then it sour real quick. The same goes for loud, and although I never saw him live, I would bet my paycheck to a penny, it is loud. Loud fills every inch of space and doesn't allow the audience to imagine. Just my opinions and in art, there are no facts, just opinions :D . Walter
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Re: flashless harpin

Postby jeffl » Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:41 pm

No, I get what yer sayin' Walter. I have more tolerance for loud (and punchy stuff ) than you apparently do. Personally, I play alotta different styles, out of necessity and history. I started out playin' mainly country blues, 'cuz of my early influences, and I've played plenty of harp to southern rock and straight rock. I jam totally acoustically with my 7-8 piece jam group, unless we play out and then I tend to play "acoustically" into a 58, slightly off the mic. I save the hard amplified stuff for sittin' in with bar bands. I've accompanied piano on slow blues alot, and I've played slow blues accompanying a single guitar. I like 'em all. I like Jason's stuff because I think he's very intentional... mebbe not alot of dynamics, but he plays clubs alot, and dynamics unfortunately can be one of the first things thrown out with the bathwater. And, he is young... he'll develop.
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Re: flashless harpin

Postby watertore » Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:58 pm

I use to play loud, and crazy. I was labeled pre punk, once the genere came out. My drummer had double bass drums that were chained to his stool because he thumped em so hard they would run off the stage otherwise. I would dive in the crowd, do rolls onstage, and scream and blow out harps everynight. I have blown out speakers on bassmans, and been so loud, my ears rang so bad I couldn't sleep without getting wasted. I use to jam with roy buchanan and albert collins and there aren't many louder than those guys. At the time it was great and I wouldn't have it any other way. There is a certain feeling of power with all that physical power of volume. But as the years went on, it all started sounding the same to me (I am talking my own music and others playing loud). I was also constantly reflecting on my early playing with lightning, louisiana red, sonny terry, and other blues guys that did it quietly. I was also always impressed with bluegrass and acoustic bands that got the juices going without the volume. That is my root. I started unamplified and when I did get amps we weren't very loud because they were cheapos that wouldn't turn up to loud. Then I made enough money to buy a brand new 1976 fender twin, and it went loud for probably 10 years. Now loud music grates on me immediately, almost like insults being flung out. Now with the aide of a THD hotplate, my guitar amp is never louder than speaking volume, and the entire sound of my 1 man band in my studio and live, is no louder than conversation levels. I know Jason is young. There is no telling where he will end up. My guess is he is pigonholed already into being loud and fast. To drop that image will mean a loss of 90%+ of his audience because most of his audience are harp players trying to emulate him. Time will tell. I saw my audience go from standing room only, to nobody, when I sat down, turned down, and sang religious based songs. I also saw the audience go from 1-300 people a night when I had a 4 piece (I just blew harp) and we did high octane loose versions of blues covers, to nobody when I started playing guitar and harp on the rack, got rid of the hot rod guitar and loud drummer, and did pure spontobeat. People came up and wanted to know why I wouldn't do the old songs anymore. I feel like I am now at the best musical place to date and I can't hardly get a gig. Go figure....... Walter
Last edited by watertore on Tue Mar 02, 2010 7:02 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: flashless harpin

Postby jeffl » Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:59 pm

BTW, Walter, I gotta "correct" you a little about your playin': I know you're makin' a point when you mention flashless, but you utilize alotta expression in your playing. I've always benchmarked that element of your playin'.. not that I achieve it. It's very "live", with good attack and some edges on the tone.. not just a single edge. I don't think you can incorporate everything into a note or a tune.. you gotta pick your poison, so to speak-- and you do.
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Re: flashless harpin

Postby watertore » Tue Mar 02, 2010 7:52 pm

thanks Bubba! I will never forget the first time I saw lightning hopkins. I wished as hard as I could everyday for years, to be able to have that feel he put out. It was like his person was bigger than any note he played. I think the need to express what is in me has led to quiet, space and dynamics. Walter
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