Introducing Kirk Jelly Roll Johnson last night, Joe spoke of his skillful playing and minimalism, making the point that "...if you can't say it with a few words or notes, you may never get it said."
It was an interesting introduction in light of "Mrs. Jelly Roll's" comment at the end of the night that she didn't think her husband could talk that much! Obviously B1's interest in him and his playing brought the soft-spoken Jelly Roll out of his shell! We were blown away by his thoughtfulness and beautiful playing!
Jelly Roll described his learning curve and influences: his dad taught him to play by tongue-blocking right from the start and that's all he knows. He learned by listening to Paul Butterfield, Little Walter, Sonny Boy II and of course Charlie McCoy. It was McCoy who gave Jelly Roll his strong sense of melodic playing.
He spoke a lot about working in the studio, addressing questions about how booking, pay and creative decisions happen. A few of his key points:
Deliver what they want.
Play what the song needs.
Don't waste anyone's time.
His great summary quote on these topics was:
"Rarely do you get to advance the art of harmonica playing in the studio."
Jelly Roll also gave some nice, clear advice on playing with and behind a vocalist:
The diatonic is a vocal instrument, so be careful with it behind a singer.
Play in the holes.
Listen to the lyrics and attempt to understand and capture the mood of the song.
Make the notes count.
It was a wonderful night with a wonderful person and performer. Thanks, Jelly Roll!
Willie "Big Eyes" Smith!!!
Dave Specter checked in with us and shared this photo from a few years back when Willie performed on the main stage at the Old Town School. That's Joe on harp behind him too and his son Kenny "Beady Eyes" Smith on drums. Thanks for the memory, Dave:
Hohner Sponsors Harmonikids!!!
- We've reported previously on the great work that Gary Allegretto does with his organization Harmonikids. Hohner recently announced a partnership with Harmonikids:
Hohner, Inc. is proud to announce the company’s alliance withHarmonikids, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing harmonicas & the joy of music into the lives of special needs children.
Hohner, Inc. has partnered with Harmonikids founder, artist, educator and 2011 Keeping Blues Alive Award recipient Gary Allegretto, to provide harmonicas and musical instruction to children beset with a wide range of physical, emotional, and/or economic challenges. Harmonikids’ seminars and events have introduced children throughout the world to the healing and restorative powers of music since 1985, utilizing the harmonica to create unique avenues for music therapy and education in environments ranging from children’s hospitals to tsunami-ravaged North Sumatra.
Each child participating in a Harmonikids event is gifted with his or her own Hohner harmonica and afforded the rare opportunity to receive musical instruction and inspiration from a professional musician and educator in a supportive and nurturing environment. Clay Edwards, President of Hohner, Inc. recently commented, “Hohner endeavors to be a part of everyone’s musical life. If music provides an outlet for these children to express themselves and their condition, then by all means we have an obligation to support and foster it. Harmonikids is a first class organization with its heart in the right place and Gary Allegretto couldn’t be better in relating to the children."
Annie Raines does not make it to Chicago often and this is no exception, but she is within striking distance on October 29 if you are up for a road trip!
Jerry Portnoy Launches Harp Instructional Website!!!
Our good friend and 2010 Chicago Blues Harp Bash headliner, Jerry Portnoy is launching his own instructional website for harp players called Harp Junction. Jerry is a smooth, skilled storyteller and has chosen wisely to use video blog posts as his teaching medium. He is fantastic on camera and has years of stage experience with Muddy Waters to inform his comments. What more could you ask for?!
His site also features play-along tracks, a forum for harp players to ask questions and the opportunity to email your questions directly to Jerry. Check it out and learn from the best!
Our winter recital is on the calendar, December 17. You should start planning and practicing your songs now!
Joe Filisko Speaking This Week!!!
Joe is speaking at the USF Songwriters Guild at 7:00 P.M. this coming Wednesday October 5th! Bring your own music for constructive advice and feedback, and listen to Filisko discuss his own philosophies of music and writing.
The Songwriters Guild will be held in the DARA (Digital Audio Recording Arts) studio (N407) at the University of Saint Francis, 500 Wilcox Ave, Joliet, IL 60435.