Pat Missin, the incredible historian of free-reed instruments, entertained B1 last night. He paraded out numerous bizarre reed instruments, most with unpronounceable names and obscure history. His collection of Asian reed instruments, understanding of how they're played, and how they fit into the family tree of the harmonica was fascinating. Plus he was able to play haunting melodies on them to demonstrate their scale and timbre. All this was delivered with Pat's wonderful, wry humor. As he said, it's a history of "things that go twang and boing."
Pat is working on the first and only English language instruction book for playing the hulusi and bawu - we'll be sure to share that link with you once it's available. In the meantime, be sure to check outpatmissin.com for lots of info on the instruments he plays, including alternate-tuned harmonicas!
In the bar later, Pat remembered there was one vital lesson he had wanted to impart, but forgot in class, so here it is:
"If you want to become a good harp player, never become a harmonica technician."
Joe laughed in agreement and added:
"I would compare it to rebristling toothbrushes!"
Huge thanks to Pat and also to his buddy, Jim Rumbaugh, from Huntington, WV, who drove Pat out for us. Jim is a member ofTheHarmonicaClub.com.
Bean Blossom Review!!!
- our friend Jim McLean was kind enough to write about his experience recently at the Bean Blossom Blues Festival. Thanks Jim!
I had the great pleasure of traveling to southern Indiana last weekend, August 25 thru 28, for the Bean Blossom Blues Festival, which is put together by John Hall, the owner of Bushman Harmonicas. I traveled with my friend, Peter Elmer, who has been extremely kind in helping to produce my FlashHarp video, as well as overcome numerous other graphic and photographic challenges that are part of rolling out a product.
If you’ve never been to southern Indiana, it has green, rolling hills full of sassafras and pine with lots of poison ivy on the trunks. The Festival is held at the Bill Monroe Music Park, which has a nice, homey pavilionon a hill overlooking a main stage with a secondary stage, Hippy Hill, just over yonder from there. There are about a dozen cabins set throughout the park. Seating at the stage areas is au natural throughout, with a few fixed metal benches here and there. On Thursday, folks set up their fold-out portable chairs on the hill facing the stage and leave them there to call “dibs” on their spots throughout the weekend.
The Fest opens with an open mic party Thursday night, and many experienced attendees -- harpists and non -- agree this is the most fun night ‘cuz everybody is feelin’ loose and feelin’ right. As I walked up, Rick Beets from Indy was blowin’ and he sounded fabulous. Another quiet, 13-year old harpist who was very present throughout the fest and from whom I’m sure we’ll all be hearing a great deal in the future, was Carson Dearling (who I affectionately nicknamed “Kid Carson.”)
Friday was sort of an open day, until the evening during which time bands such as Harsch Reality, Gene Deer and Gordon Bonham put on great shows. Kid Carson went up on stage and blew with Bonham. Since I was selling my FlashHarps during these performances, I have to admit I was not able to pay close attention Friday, other than to thoroughly enjoy the overall vibe of the event, which was awesome. A large part of this vibe comes from the fact that there are no main sponsors of the event, other than the attendees. So you don’t see beer signage and commercials. It’s all about the music. Further, the vendors, including myself, are all very “what you see is what you get.” By that I mean, if they’re selling pork out of trailer, that’s what the sign says over the heads. This gave the overall venue a very authentic feel.
Many of the people, of which there were about a 3,000, were campers who were free to roam and jam throughout the weekend. For me, in retrospect, this imbued my weekend memories with a sort of episodic, storybook feeling through which a host of wonderful, musical characters moved in and out. One cabin in particular, Cabin 12, is hosted by a great old gent with gray “Willie” pigtails whose name escapes me now, but who blows bass notes on a big, 2-foot long Suzuki chording harp. Any and everybody is invited to jam there, and I’m told PT Gazell blew harp at Cabin 12 until about 3 am on Friday night.
PT also showed up Friday morning at the advanced seminar held at Hippie Hill, hosted by main harpist act RJ Mischo. RJ was tickled to death to see PT and his jubilant reaction itself was worth the cost of admission ($45 for the weekend if you buy early). The two of them blew together on stage there, and also subsequently, later, during RJ’s main-stage act. During the seminar, RJ led a nice discussion with PT on the tonal differences between tongue-blocking and pursing, as well as the importance of learning bass lines. Overall, a really fabulous weekend! Here’s a link to the page for next year: