Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 201 #244)

That Ain't It!!!

Joe taught the second half of That Ain't It this week and talked at length about Walter Horton. Joe calls him the "diatonic harmonica player's harmonica player" because he is so well-rounded. Horton has an extremely large range of sounds, tones and dynamics that he employs to captivate listeners and this song is full of great examples. Check it out!

Learn to Play Savagely!!!

Joe announced that B1's own Zoe Savage is now offering one-on-one harmonica lessons and needless to say, he highly endorses her! If you live in the Chicago area, shoot her an email to set something up: Zoe Savage.

Filisko Solo (or is it duo?) Show Tonight!!!

Brave the snow and get out to the Harlem Avenue Lounge tonight for another Filisko Solo show starting at 8:00pm. No drums, no guitars, just harmonica and vocals. In addition to lots of Christmas songs, there will be a duo set of Joe and Zoe - as Joe put it, "Me and the Z", and there may be others sitting in with him as well!

PowerBender Review!!!

For those of you interested in the PowerBender offered by Brendon Power, our friend Jim Lucas offers these thoughts:

While I was at the SPAH convention in Minneapolis, I attended Brendon Power's demonstration of his new PowerBender harmonica. I was impressed enough to buy one and I've been experimenting since with the one a bought there. I bought the "Introductory POWERBENDER Book/CD and Harp Package" which is now offered and shown on the PowerBender web page.

It is a Suzuki Harpmaster harmonica in A, pretuned to the PowerBender tuning. I am very impressed by the instrument and have enjoyed playing it. The tuning layout is intuitive and I love being able to use my bending skills to get all those extra chromatic notes.

What is the PowerBender tuning? Here is a comparison of the PowerBender tuning and the standard (Richter) tuning, using two C harps:

Richter Tuning in C:
Draw Bends: 1/D (down to Db), on 2/G (down to F# and F), on 3/B (down to A, Ab, and G), on 4/D (down to Db), and 6/A (down to Ab)

PowerBender Tuning in C:
Draw Bends: All those of the Richter Tuning, plus 5/E (down to Eb), 7/B (down to Bb), 8/D (down to Db), 9/G (down to F# and F) and 10/C (down to B and Bb)

As you can see, you have access to many more bends in the top half of the harp. This allows you to play more chromatic notes on a diatonic, without having to overblow. The PowerBender has the same lower octave as a standard harp for chord rhythms and blues licks. If you want to get your hands on a PowerBender, you can 1) tune your harp to the PowerBender tuning, 2) order one online (there are many options: see web site above), or 3) send Brendan your favorite harp and he'll custom tune it. After experimenting with the PowerBender while I was still at SPAH, I immediately missed having access to the Ab on the 6 draw. I use that a lot in 3rd position playing. I mentioned this to Brendan, and he said that he overcomes that by using a valved version of the instrument. This allows him to get the Ab on the 7 blow hole. I won't get into valving in this little discussion, but suffice it to say that I have purchased two of the valved versions (another Harpmaster in A and a Suzuki ProMaster in C), but I haven't found the valving to be as intuitive to use.

Overall, I think Mr. Power has designed something of value, and I recommend you give it a try.

Class Notes
  • Joe is excited to announce we'll have Matthew Skoller as our special guest in class Monday, February 28, 2011. It's a ways off, but mark your calendars!
  • The last class this session is Monday, December 13th.
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew