On the sideline

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

On the sideline

Postby eline » Fri Jan 05, 2007 7:38 am

Okay, I gotta ask the question, do those of you who perform regularly play harp in every song? If not, what kinds of alternative things do you all do? Aside from percusion, what are some alternatives while on the sideline?
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Postby tobie » Fri Jan 05, 2007 11:13 am

Played on every song at first, then decided it must be quite boring for the listeners. I play abourt the third of our song list harmonica, another third steel (mostly simple rythm stuff with reso / backup chords with lapsteel) and another third percussion. Harmonica is much more effective this way.
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Postby dcblues » Fri Jan 05, 2007 1:41 pm

With Big Daddy I play on every song, but on some songs I play very little (just some horn parts). We sometimes feature a guest vocalist who sings "At Last" and some Aretha Franklin. I don't play on those. We usually have her at the beginning of a set, so I just stay off stage until she's done.
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Postby bosco » Sat Jan 06, 2007 12:39 am

Aside from percussion...

On the Latin Percussion website, one of the first things you'll read is their byline, "most people underestimate the importance of percussion in live performance music." As you just did.

I sing lead vocals on a dozen tunes and backing vocals on the most of the rest so that's my number one contribution when I'm not playing harp. You'll note that most pro harpers that front bands are also vocalists so start singing if you don't already. Bands are a lot more accepting of taking on a harp player that also sings.

Back to the percussion. I have a custom suitcase with about $250.00 worth of percussive toys in it and a custom made stage stand to hold them all. Tambourine, maracas, egg shakers, can shaker, cowbell and striker, cabasa and guiro (ribbed w/ scraper). Before you scoff at these sounds being added to blues, consider that field hollers and chants- where blues evolved from, were largely accompianied by percussion. The other instruments came along much later.

http://www.latinpercussion.com/Product_ ... talog.html

Just like playing harp, you have to decide when and where you are going to add these to the arrangments, the music still needs to breath. The response I get is awesome, a lot of people have never seen some of these instruments, let alone heard them played in live performance. I get flooded with questions at break time and I can see the folks watching me play so the added value is immediate.

As a final thought, I try to avoid leaving the stage as it gives the impression of a part time band member or you risk the appearance of being a prima donna who only deems himself worthy of being onstage when he gets to play. If the venue is paying for a 5 piece band they should get one. In DC's example, leaving the stage for a guest vocalist when you are not going to play is appropriate.

As you can probably tell, you've touched on a subject that I'm passionate about and have given considerable thought to.

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Postby eline » Sat Jan 06, 2007 8:25 am

On the Latin Percussion website, one of the first things you'll read is their byline, "most people underestimate the importance of percussion in live performance music." As you just did.
.


I don't think that I'm underestimating the importance of percusion, I'm just looking for alternatives. Thinking out of the box so to speak. I have looked into a percusion package, and I am working on some vocals, but the vocal thing is new to me and I don't feel that I'm quite there yet. It's somthing that I'm working toward. I think ideally, singing would be the best avenue, but I think I could tackle percusion with greater ease. Having said that, I was just curious as to what others do as filler work on stage, when not playing harp, so that I may add a little extra something that one wouldn't normally expect. Trying to be creative I guess. That's what I get for being an artist.
Anyways, I appreciate your thoughts and passion Bosco, and others-Thanks!
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Postby tobie » Sat Jan 06, 2007 8:43 am

Bosco, you hit the nail right on the head! The tambourine is my favourite percussion instrument, teaming up with the drummer to create specific effects / riffs (without the drummer realising it). I won't try voacals - we'd like the congregation to stay at least until after the sermon, LOL! I use the shakers during solo songs / instrumentals only - they tend to dissappear in the heavy sound of other sets.

eline, look into string instruments for simple rythm play - it's surprisingly rewarding! I try and find the out-of-the-ordinary instruments. I don't want to compete with anyone, I just want to make them sound better!
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Postby bosco » Sat Jan 06, 2007 4:14 pm

add a little extra something that one wouldn't normally expect... Trying to be creative I guess.

Hey, You could always juggle bowling pins onstage, swallow flaming swords or dance with the tattooed, overweight gal with the exposed midrift and pink fuzzy slippers that even the drunks won't look twice at.

The artistic value might be dubious, but it would certainly be creative!

:lol: :lol: :lol:

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Postby eline » Sat Jan 06, 2007 5:25 pm

Already done did that :wink:
Last edited by eline on Sat Jan 06, 2007 5:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby ricochet » Sat Jan 06, 2007 5:26 pm

eline wrote:Already done did that one :wink:


The big gal in the pink fuzzy slippers?
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Postby eline » Sat Jan 06, 2007 5:27 pm

:shock:
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Postby oleman » Sat Jan 06, 2007 8:33 pm

I'm currently mainly playing bass, but sometimes I will just play harp and sing with the front man that also plays harp and guitar. We sometime give em what we call a "double harp attack" but as Bosco said, percussion of all types will really round out the sound. Even Congas can spice up the blues. Also an extra rhythm guitar or even another bass in the ensemble is worthy of consideration if not overdone. Also don't forget the sax; they are real easy to learn to play. How good you get depends on your woodshed time. Good luck!
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Postby allanlummox » Sat Jan 06, 2007 8:54 pm

Damnit, Bosco, if there were more harmonica players like you, I'd probably still be playing in a band instead of doing the stomp and hollar solo guitar thing.
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Postby dcblues » Sat Jan 06, 2007 9:14 pm

I don't think that I'm underestimating the importance of percusion, I'm just looking for alternatives.


Get a cowbell. The world can always use more cowbell:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEiQjisUodM
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Postby ricochet » Sat Jan 06, 2007 9:21 pm

Or you could try wearing hotpants, thigh-high white leather boots, and play a tambourine.
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Postby eline » Sat Jan 06, 2007 10:27 pm

Your out of control Ricochet :!:
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