Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 149 #193)

Lights Out!
Joe was ready to move on from classic Little Walter slow blues numbers when he remembered Lights Out. This is a great chromatic tune which features Walter playing a lot of double-time figures over the slow tempo. It is also a good place to hear the difference between Walter's chromatic playing and that of George Smith and the West coast players -- Walter tended to play split four intervals and not the split five octaves. He also did not play the button much other than to sometimes play the whole song with it held in.

This song was recorded in July 1953, and Joe is fairly certain this is the first chromatic blues tune issued. If you are considering buying your first chromatic, Joe suggests the Hohner 280. (transcription)

B1 Baby Born Today - Otis Kiyoshi Naito!!!
Shoji Naito and Laura Schlenker had their baby this morning, November 24! Shoji writes:

"Our baby boy was born this morning at 2:40am. He is 7lb 14oz and very healthy.

We named him "Otis," after the best singer, Otis Redding, the best guitarist, Otis Rush, and the best pianist, Otis Spann. Otis and Laura are both doing fine."

CONGRATULATIONS Laura and Shoji, from all your blues friends!

We continue to rehearse Shoji's four-part arrangement for Silver Bells. This is ensemble playing that everyone should get involved in and play with us at the December 11 Recital. Pick a part you feel you can master and work on it so you have it memorized for the December 11 performance. We will work on this at 8pm every week leading up to the recital. Regardless of the part you choose, Shoji recommends everyone also spend some time learning the melody (Part One). Here's the link to Silver Bells.

Sonny Terry Book Review!
YouMissedMonday reader Jim Jucas shares his review of the book, Sonny Terry Blues Riffs, A Playalong Course For Intermediate Harp Players, written by Ben Hewlett:

"After the Talking Blues Contest, Joe gave me advice for how to improve my talking blues song: 'Go fishing for riffs.' I did a fair amount of "fishing" on the net, and indeed found some good riffs that way. I've been listening to Sonny Terry lately, as per Joe's recommendation to listen to the great masters, so I thought this book would be useful in following up on Joe's advice.

The book is a downloadable pack, which includes a pdf of the sheet music and mp3's of the tracks. You don't get the usual paper and ink book with a cd on the inside cover, but a pdf file on your computer that opens in Adobe Reader (free) software. That is the 'book' or 'sheet music' part, and there are sixty-seven mp3 files that should play automatically on your computer when you click them. Once you checkout, you are directed to a link which downloads the material. The downloading process worked seamlessly. The cost of this format is less than traditional formats, and the charge for it was 9.99 pounds (about $17).

You can also, of course, print out the pdf file, and also import the mp3s into iTunes or other software, and from there burn your own cd. In my case, I decided to try to go paperless and cd-less, and see how learning and using the material at my computer would work. After a short while, I found I needed to print the sheet music and burn a cd, so I could examine and listen away from the computer.

The book contains a two page intro that recommends you get in touch with Joe Filisko 'if you want to get deeply immersed in the styles of the early harp players.' This is followed by a two page biography of Sonny Terry and a one page bio of Joe and one page of reviews of the book from Pat Missin, Paul Lamb and Tom Ball. That and the author bios at the end are about all the text there is. The rest of the book is the sheet music of the sixty-seven riffs, written out in standard music notation with a simple and basic harp tab. Occasionally, syllables such as 'ah wah cha-chi-cka wah cha' are suggested above the staff and are given as an aid in figuring out how to match the articulations. Each track contains the riff played with a click/drum background, and in three tempos: fast, slow, and medium. The click track and harp parts are panned so that the click track can be turned down and you can hear the harp more clearly. The tracks also include four play-along backing tracks (in E, D, F, and G) and the fabulous Good Friend cut from the latest Joe Filisko and Eric Noden cd, 'I.C. Special'.

The riffs are based on three of Sonny's songs: Blowing the Blues, Train Whistle Blues, and New Love Blues, all from the album 'Sonny Terry Vol. 1 1938-1945'. I was able to purchase them on Amazon's MP3 Downloads web site. Listening to these songs and then using the book creates an extremely useful tool in learning how to play these riffs.

Ben and Paul are working on a follow-up book of Sonny Terry riffs. To make this terrific resource even more useful, I recommend numbering the tracks to correspond to the number of the riffs. Overall, I found the book and music provide a no-nonsense scaffolding for learning how to play these wonderful riffs."

Available from: www.harmonicaworld.net

Class Notes
  • RECITAL SIGN-UP SHEETS WERE TURNED IN LAST NIGHT! Joe will have a schedule ready next Monday. Rehearse your songs with the band the next two Mondays.
  • Get your tickets now for the next Harmonica Convergence show featuring Joe Filisko, Howard Levy, Corky Siegel and Peter Madcat Ruth at the Old Town School, March 21, 2010. The show will be a tribute to the great harmonica legend, and longtime Steve Miller Band member, Norton Buffalo.
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We welcome your input. If you're inspired to write a review of a live show, CD, DVD or book, please submit it to us for consideration.

- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew