B1 welcomed our very own alum and hugely successful bandleader, Morry Sochat to class last night. Morry fronts the Special 20s, singing, songwriting, blowing harp and entertaining crowds. He is releasing his third CD this week, "Eatin' Dirt", featuring Shoji Naito (on guitar and harp!), Billy Flynn, Jimmy Sutton and many others. Morry did a great job answering questions about leading a band, recording and getting gigs. Special thanks to Ted Beranis for joining Morry -- this is the first time B1 has had an upright bass in class and it was great!
photo: Highway RickEy Trankle
Wisdom From Morry:
- People hear with their eyes. You've gotta make it a show.
- Always look and act professional.
- The audience will not have fun unless you look and act like you are having fun.
- Mix "scripted" and set songs with improvisation.
- Do not play long solos unless you are Billy Flynn.
- People don't usually remember songs but they remember "moments".
- There is a difference between holding a crowd and bringing a crowd.
- Getting booked is all about having and building a relationship with the club's booking agent.
- My job is to make everyone happy - the audience, the house, the booking agent and the band.
Last week, Tuesday, May 4 was national teacher appreciation day. Sorry we missed it, but B1 loves its teachers and would like to say thank you, belatedly, to Joe Filisko and Shoji Naito for all their hard work and dedication. Thanks, guys. You're amazing and inspiring!
- Thanks to Jim Lucas for submitting this review of the Harp-L email list
Have you ever walked out of a harmonica class or workshop and walked into a discussion amongst participants and learned something or picked up a tip from your fellow classmates? It happens to me all the time. I have often benefited from the knowledge and generosity of the harmonica community.
The Harp-L email list is an extension of that community. Billed as "an email list for all things harmonica," Harp-L is an ongoing email discussion of the entire gamut of harmonica topics: music, playing, maintenance, and all related topics. Many "big name" players subscribe and participate, and the discussion is as likely to be between expert and expert as it is to be between novice and novice, with all combinations in between. I have found it to be a terrific resource and I recommend it highly. And did I mention that it is free?
What are some examples of "all things harmonica?" A recent thread of discussion compared the online harmonica learning sites available, most notably those of Howard Levy and David Barrett. There is always a steady stream of recommended YouTube harp videos. Recommendations of gigs, workshops and places to play are common. A mainstay of any list like this will be the questions of newbies, such as "What is the best harp to buy?"
Let me share a personal example of how one can benefit from this list. Subscriber Rob Paparozzi offered to send a "music-minus-one" mp3 track from his Etruscan Soul album to anyone who would join SPAH (Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica). Such a track includes the full orchestration minus the harp part, allowing one to play along with a professional mix. Motivated by this offer, I joined the organization, and Rob emailed me the track. This was a win-win situation. I won by ending up belonging to an excellent organization and I've had fun playing along with the track. Rob Paparozzi wins because I ended up buying the excellent Etruscan Soul CD. This is a good system. The experts contribute to the list, knowing that the products and services they are selling will get free publicity, often from the web sites listed in the “signature” portion of their emails. The novices read and learn for free, and occasionally purchase.
What's not to like about it? Probably the amount of email it sends into your inbox! The secret to making it work is to wade through the discussions of no interest to you and glean from the ones which are meaningful. It helps to set your email preferences to "Digest Mode." If you turn digest mode on, you'll get posts bundled together (usually one per day but possibly more), instead of singly when they're sent. How do you do that? Subscription and email preference information about the list can be found at: Harp-L
Harp In Politics!!!
Regardless of your politics, here's a fun story. US House Representative David Obey announced last week that he'll be retiring. At the end of his short speech he says he wants to spend more time playing music with his family...and proceeds to play Amazing Grace on harmonica! Check it out here.
- Note that Shoji will NOT be in classes next week. We will be rehearsing for recital, but this is not the week to run through your complicated recital songs. Come prepared to rehearse your straight ahead tunes with Grant and Joe.
- Shoji Naito play-along tracks: Naito.
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