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

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

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

Postby bluzlvr » Mon Dec 01, 2008 9:19 pm

I used to run into this guitar player who was a real jerk at jam sessions all the time. The last time I ran into him, I had to leave the stage, because he called out a song in C sharp assuming (correctly) that I would'nt have right harp to play along. He ignored me when I asked him if we could do it in C or D.......
bluzlvr
Regular
 
Posts: 17
Joined: Wed Nov 26, 2008 10:13 pm

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

Postby jeffl » Mon Dec 01, 2008 9:57 pm

You shoulda asked him to tune down a half step,lol! I used to sit in with a band occasionally that played tuned down a half step. The bandleader would transpose occasionally but his wife played bass and it would throw her off bigtime. She could play the bass fine, but she wasn't real good at transposing keys. It still beats playin' with savants who have no idea what key they're playin' in. I gigged with a guy like that for a year...it was a game of "crack the whip". He admires my harp playin' alot, which I have to work fairly hard at, while he has no idea what he's doin' and runs circles around almost anybody I've ever met.
jeffl
Contributor
Contributor
 
Posts: 4051
Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2005 2:04 pm

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

Postby lpdeluxe » Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:02 pm

I get stereotyped a lot. I joined a band as a bass player a couple of years ago, and that was that: if I wanted to scare them on guitar or harp, too bad (even though the lead player was a frustrated bassist). It wasn't until a year after the band broke up for a year that I finally played harmonica and electric guitar with the singer/rhythm guitarist from the band. :roll:

Recently I joined the local state U production of Big River (a musical based on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with music and lyrics by Roger Miller). The orchestra consisted of piano, drums, electric bass, a three-piece horn section, two guitarists (one doubling on mandolin and banjo), a fiddler and me on harp. So now I'm permanently labeled a harmonica player. :wha:

The church I go to features a "summer string band" June through August where I usually play the Dobro...which is a lead instrument, apparently: the music director's sisters came to visit from Kentucky, sporting banjos, fiddles, and an upright bass, but when the breaks came, everybody looked at me. BUT I have trained the others in the ssb that I can play harmonica as well. :mrgreen:

Just to stir them up, a friend and I have begun doing occasional delta style hymns for the anthem, featuring his 12-string Guild and my ES-335, so maybe I'm finally breaking out of the box. :shock:
User avatar
lpdeluxe
Regular
 
Posts: 160
Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 8:40 pm

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

Postby tobiepsg » Fri Dec 05, 2008 5:21 am

dcblues wrote:You guys ever get this when you tell someone you're a harp player? I don't know how many times I've had people ask me if I play anything else, like they're surpised that someone would only play harp. And, slightly related, guitarists/band leaders at jams always assume you only play second position.

I also play pedal steel & dobro (& learning bass), but my band members prefer my harp playing above all - if I never take out the other instruments they'll be totally happy! At the times when we're on a hike (or touring karaoke bars overseas) you're the envy of all other touring musicians when you remove one or two harps from your pocket and do your thing! When landing on stage of a karaoke bar in Bali, the band actually adjusted the keys of all their songs so I could join them with the only 2 harps I had with me! The band leader wanted me to do solo breaks & turn-arounds so often that I had to refuse some of them! That's a treasured video I'll always keep in a safe place... 8)

As far as 2nd position goes: neither of the 2 bands I play in at church's members even understand why I need more than a single harp! :D
tobiepsg
Regular
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 11:49 am

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

Postby lpdeluxe » Fri Dec 05, 2008 4:12 pm

tobiepsg wrote:
dcblues wrote:Neither of the 2 bands I play in at church's members even understand why I need more than a single harp! :D


Haha. For the musical, it was really cool to walk up the stairs to the orchestra pit carrying my Hohner harmonica case (with the score inside!) while the other musicians struggled with, respectively, a Fender bass and amp, a trombone and an English horn, a trumpet and a flugelhorn, a clarinet, bass clarinet and soprano sax, a case with two fiddles and bows, and a guitar, mandolin and banjo. Thankfully, the drums and piano stayed in the pit through the performances. Come to think of it, our original bassist played upright -- but he dropped out before he had to horse the thing up those narrow stairs. Maybe he had a premonition.
User avatar
lpdeluxe
Regular
 
Posts: 160
Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 8:40 pm

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

Postby gheumann » Fri Dec 05, 2008 8:09 pm

There aren't any wrong keys. We're just playing in a position you haven't heard before.......


I play sax (tenor and bari) and sing too. People who hear one are always surprised to hear me do another. I still think of harp as MY "main instrument".
gheumann
Regular
 
Posts: 44
Joined: Fri Sep 26, 2008 1:30 am
Location: Sonoma County Wine Country - California

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

Postby lpdeluxe » Fri Dec 05, 2008 8:26 pm

I know what you mean: I regularly play electric guitar, electric bass, Dobro and I've recorded pedal steel...but when I go to a jam session without knowing what material will be played, I take the harps.
User avatar
lpdeluxe
Regular
 
Posts: 160
Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 8:40 pm

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

Postby jeffl » Fri Dec 05, 2008 9:09 pm

Most of the time, however, if you demonstrate a level of competence on harp that they may not have encountered previously, they will not even care if you play any other instruments. Harpers who can play comps normally reserved for horns, or who provide rhythmic comping or melodic counter melodies and single note accents will be appreciated for their "singular" skills.
jeffl
Contributor
Contributor
 
Posts: 4051
Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2005 2:04 pm

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

Postby harpdude » Sat Dec 06, 2008 1:06 am

bluzlvr wrote:I used to run into this guitar player who was a real jerk at jam sessions all the time. The last time I ran into him, I had to leave the stage, because he called out a song in C sharp assuming (correctly) that I would'nt have right harp to play along. He ignored me when I asked him if we could do it in C or D.......


Howdy bluzlvr, why not get a set of 12 harps that covers every key out there? That way your good for the go with anyone ,anytime on stage. If you didn't have an F# harp for cross harp position, did ya have a B harp that you could've used for third position? Guess what I'm trying to get at is if us harpers want to beat the stereo type deal and garner respect from other musician's, we need to show up prepared to play in any key, proper gear or at least your own mic, and show a good understanding of stage etiquette.
harpdude
Regular
 
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Jul 13, 2008 1:02 am

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

Postby tobiepsg » Mon Dec 08, 2008 7:39 am

harpdude wrote:why not get a set of 12 harps that covers every key out there?

Good advice. Also consider a low F and high G. I also carry a few extra's customised for full octave 2nd position playing, plus Am and Fm. A set of 22 altogether. It's quite a treat to watch the expressions on faces when they peep into my case for the first time! :D
tobiepsg
Regular
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 11:49 am

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

Postby jeffl » Mon Dec 08, 2008 3:31 pm

tobiepsg wrote:
harpdude wrote:why not get a set of 12 harps that covers every key out there?

Good advice. Also consider a low F and high G. I also carry a few extra's customised for full octave 2nd position playing, plus Am and Fm. A set of 22 altogether. It's quite a treat to watch the expressions on faces when they peep into my case for the first time! :D
There's no doubt than when you show up to a jam, or sit in with a band, and you pop open a case with 20 harps, some harp tools, a little flashlight, extra tubes, etc., the other guys will raise their eyebrows occasionally and there will be anticipation as to whether or not you play as good as you "look". Obviously though, it's the chops that'll separate the men from the boys.
jeffl
Contributor
Contributor
 
Posts: 4051
Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2005 2:04 pm

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

Postby harpdude » Tue Dec 09, 2008 3:48 am

Covering the 12 keys should do fine to start with. At least you can stay on the stage for any key of song then. I sort of look at not showing up with enough keys to get you thru , to be the same as a guitar player showing up with only 3 strings on his guitar. Good point about the chops Bubba. I've done the whole nine yards on gear acquisition, and have come full circle back to a more minimal gear setup.
harpdude
Regular
 
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Jul 13, 2008 1:02 am

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

Postby jbone1 » Tue Dec 09, 2008 11:04 am

there are keys i just don't care to play in. F# is one. i had a terrible experience recording a few years back, my partner at the time had no idea what he was asking of me. he wanted it to sound like a b3 player vamping chords all the way through the song. and he'd written in G#(?), so it was third position since i had no Db at the time. he pretty much gave up getting that one on tape in that key after a couple of hours. the constant draw required was something i just could not sustain! most bands shy away from say F and Bb but i keep a couple of harps for those keys just in case.

rarely have i had someone ask if all i play is harp. it's pretty obvious. but i supplement it with very dedicated vocals and decent frontman skills.

if i do have someone ask me about playing harp, i will take a few minutes to make some suggestions so they can improve their chops. not for any big ego strokes, more to pass on what's been given me over many years by many people. last week i was at a jam and had a guy blow through my crystal mic/bassman rig. it was a big thrill for him and i saw him get very excited about the tone the rig provided. that felt good.

i don't encourage gus behavior, rather i see it as an annoyance much like fruit flies. guys who want to bull their way on stage DO meet severe resistance. after all, if nobody has taught them manners yet it has to begin someplace! other hand, if someone is halfway polite and actually signs up or gets with the host and has permission and maybe an introduction, i believe in giving equal time and support to a fellow aspiring musician. one thing i've found to be a good gesture is to hand off a circle of 5ths chart to a new guy and explain how it works.

more often than not i will ask the bassist what key he's in. this will usually give me the true root key.
jbone1
Regular
 
Posts: 387
Joined: Fri Jun 27, 2008 10:43 am

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

Postby jeffl » Tue Dec 09, 2008 7:00 pm

Even though I have several harp amps and mics, I do alotta playin' in situations where a band I know will ask me up and I have to jump on a vocal mic eq'd for voice. There's no time to run out to the van and get my gear and set it up, so I usually just pocket an A,D, and a C, and the band will always find tunes to play in the corresponding keys. Once you learn what I call "proximity cupping" for vocal mics, you can get tone good enough to please the band and the crowd. Usually the band will try to showcase you on every tune if they've asked you up, so you don't wanna be weak. On the other hand, I love to ask 'em for tunes where I can jus' play behind 'em and do some nice horn compin' or accent fills. The guitar players are carryin' the load all night, workin' their butts off, so if you show 'em that you're willin' to do some of the dirty work, they'll appreciate you all the more.
jeffl
Contributor
Contributor
 
Posts: 4051
Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2005 2:04 pm

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

Postby tobiepsg » Wed Dec 10, 2008 8:38 am

harpdude wrote:Covering the 12 keys should do fine to start with

Unless you've got the bucks to buy all in one shot, it might be worthwhile asking the band what keys they play in most. I've found that each genre / application has its favourite keys. We play about 80% of our songs in F or C (easy for the congrgation to sing along with). Just about never play anything in F# and Db.
tobiepsg
Regular
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 11:49 am

PreviousNext

Return to Blues Harp

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

cron