Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 293 #337)

Brandon Bailey!!!

You had three chances to catch the amazing Brandon Bailey in Chicago this past weekend - sitting in at our recital on Saturday, doing his own solo show at the Elbo Room on Sunday, and he stopped by B1 last night to demonstrate some of his harp boxing techniques, answer questions and play. Smokin' stuff, Brandon!

Brandon is excited to announce he has a new EP out, Senses, which is available as a digital download at places like Amazon.

Joe is a big supporter of this harp boxing genre - if you doubt it's authenticity and applicability, check out John Mayall vocalizing in Room To Move...and then remember that Mayall is surely referencing things he heard Sonny Boy Williamson do. That, and harp boxing is rhythmic and chordal!

Speaking of our 19th recital, Joe officially pronounces it a big success! People really stepped up and performed well, they were efficient with time on stage so we kept things moving and Joe especially loves the ensemble and duet things that are coming together. We had lots of original lyrics, we had background singers and we even got to hear a vocal tune out of Mr. Shoji!

Apparently Michelle told Joe she liked it enough that she'd come back for another - that's all the high praise we need, Michelle!

Al Miller Re-releases on Delmark!!!

Our friend Al Miller reached out with news of the re-release of his two discs by Delmark. Wildcards is out with a new cover (and terrific lineup including Tad Robinson and Billy Flynn!) And his second disc, featuring Joe Filisko on the title track, In Between Time, is due out soon. Here is how Delmark puts it:

"Also be on the look out for the re-issue of harpist/guitarist/vocalist and former Chess records artist, Al Miller’s CD from 2000, In Between Time. This recording from 2000 was self-released and never on Delmark before, and is thus is the follow up to Al’s Delmark CD, Wild Cards (DE 675) from ’95. Like it’s predecessor, this much anticipated recording also features an all-star traditional Chicago Blues band with John Primer, Billy Flynn, Dave Specter, Kenny Smith, and more!"

Sites like Amazon are clearing out old stock of In Between Time...and the new release will have a previously unreleased track!


Blues Harp Tracks Go International!!!

Shoji's Blues Harp Tracks are indispensable learning tools, meticulously arranged like the originals for you to play along to. Check out the video to your right of Ana Radzik putting Juke to work in a TV spot!

Buy yourself a few play-along tracks and soon you'll be profiled on TV too!

Filisko & Noden!!!

Next time you're in Deutschland, keep your eyes peeled for this:

 


Class Notes
  • Happy Holidays! The newsletter will be taking a break, but as always, check in at youmissedmonday.com for gig listings! See you back in classes January 7, 2013.
  • If you have upgraded, renovated or otherwise modified your goals as a harp player recently, be sure to let Joe know. The better he understands your goals, the better he can help you.

Kirk Manley Report!!!

Corporate checked in with us to say his parents are both home from the hospital now and on the mend. They're well attended by family members and friends and Kirk is grateful the B1 community is thinking of them all!

- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 292 #336)

Recital Prep!!!

We spent the evening rehearsing recital songs - people are sounding great and it's going to be a terrific show! You can see the full Recital line up here. Remember to study page two, the Review Checklist so that your time on stage is efficient and polished.

Hohner Harmonica Instant Workshop Toolkit!!!

The new “Harmonica Instant Workshop” from Hohner is a treasure chest of tools and tuning reference material for the harmonica professional and/or serious harmonica technician. 

Above all, it is comprehensive.  It starts with their “Service Set” kit, which has all of the quality tools you would need to accomplish basic tuning, as well as servicing Chromatic harmonica wind savers.  This kit includes a nice instruction manual that is very easy to follow.

In addition to the Service Set kit (which is available separately, by the way) they add a collection of specialized tools that are needed to replace reeds.  Once again, they have assembled a very complete package to accomplish this delicate task, including a custom de-riveting tool, reamer, drill bit and holder, tap, screwdriver, spanner and nuts and bolts.

Just in case you are not already an experienced technician, they include a DVD that covers all of the operations that the tool kit supports.  Narrated by the famous Steve Baker with assistance from Hohner tech, Gabriele Hand, this DVD does an outstanding job, with step-by-step instructions for each of the major service operations.

Ok, at $299.00 msrp, it may seem expensive. In fact, if all you want to do is tweak the pitch of an occasional reed on one of your harps, you may be better off with just the Hohner Service Set kit.  However, if you are interested in setting up your harps to match your personal playing style and you want to keep them in peak performance condition, the Harmonica Instant Workshop has all the professional grade tools and easy to use reference materials needed to help you succeed… in one high value package.

No matter what tool kit you use, you will need a good tuner.  Most players already have one (or more) tuners and personal preferences vary widely, from a cumbersome “old school” strobe to a smartphone App.  Personally, I like to use the “Clear Tune” App on my iPad.  

Also, I would be lost without my “Tuning Table”, which is a unique device that makes changing the pitch of both draw and blow reeds a simple process without having to remove the reed plates from the comb.  (For a review of the “Tuning Table” see the YouMissedMonday issue, Tuesday, June 22, 2010).

Good Timing…
Many more harmonica enthusiasts are working on their own harps these days and by introducing the Harmonica Instant Workshop Hohner is certainly making it much easier for a motivated player to also be a true harp technician.

- Al Taylor

Note: Although Hohner's site shows "temporarily out of stock" we've been told there are kits on their way to the states, so ordering should be possible soon.

Class Notes
  • Our last class of 2012 is December 17.
  • If you have upgraded, renovated or otherwise modified your goals as a harp player recently, be sure to let Joe know. The better he understands your goals, the better he can help you.

Kirk Manley Report!!!

We're sad to report that Kirk's parents were in a very serious car accident recently. They seem to be recovering well and our thoughts go out to them and to Mr. and Mrs. Corporate! We wish them all the best and hope to see Jim and Carol cheering Kirk on at gigs again before too long.

B1 is thinking of you!

- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 291 #335)

Recital Prep!!!

We spent the evening rehearsing recital songs - people are sounding great and it's going to be a terrific show! You can see the full Recital line up here. Remember to study page two, the Review Checklist so that your time on stage is efficient and polished.

Wacky Video!!!

Consider the nose...as a way of playing while eating and drinking! Silly, yes, but solid playing at the same time - check it out:

Tong Son The Amazing Harmonica Man

As we in B1 like to say, "Let's see you do it!"

Class Notes
  •     Our last class of 2012 is December 17. 
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 290 #334)


Recital Prep!!!

We spent the evening rehearsing recital songs. You can see the full Recital line up here.

Little Walter Songs Overview!!!

- This fascinating overview of Little Walter songs comes to us via Scott Dirks and Billy Blue:

 

Learn From Grant Dermody!!!

This just in from our friend and terrific harp player, Grant Dermody:

"I am offering in-person and skype harmonica lessons. Please contact me by Facebook message if you are interested. All the best!"

Class Notes
  •     Joe's back next week - all classes and private lessons proceed as normal.
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 289 #332)

Recital Prep!!!

We spent the evening rehearsing recital songs and going over Joe's Recital Check List. You can check that out and see the full Recital line up here.

Jim Lucas Show!!!

Jim Lucas performed a terrific set of his originals set to Joe's instrumentals this past Friday at Northeastern Illinois University's Faculty Symposium.  Here's a video from the show of him doing

Retiree Blues

Satan And Adam Video Released!!!

- This in from Adam Gussow:

"Here's a holiday treat: Thunky Fing Rides Again, the first official music video from blues duo Satan and Adam.

My longtime blues partner, Sterling "Mr. Satan" Magee, is recovering from a minor stroke in his rest home down in Florida, but his joyous spirit is alive and well on this harmonica instrumental from our 2011 release, Back in the Game.  He plays guitar, supported by Jerry Jemmott on bass and Rodger Stephan on drums.

The video features the extraordinary dancing of Kaleb "K. Mel" Mitchell (above left), a Louisiana-born undergrad at the University of Mississippi.  Remember the name; you're sure to hear more of it.

The kid at stage center is my son, Shaun, age 6.  This is his big-screen debut.

Here's the link:  Thunky Fing Rides Again video."

Class Notes
  •     Joe's away one more date this year, next week, November 26th. Shoji Naito has got it covered so don't miss class! He plans to begin recital rehearsal early, with the full band - if you can make it to B1 around 7:15pm, we'll launch practice during the Level III class.
  •     Grant and Al will again be hosting a casual jam session Monday the 26th from 3:30-5:30pm in B1. Come by to practice your recital songs!
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 288 #331)

Joe's Back!!!

Filisko's back from the European tour, a little hoarse but happy to be back in B1 with all the craziness that entails! (We're looking at you, RickEy!)

We extended the playing period in Level IV last night to get rehearsal for the upcoming recital jump-started. Be ready to run through your tunes in the next weeks - that's priority number one.

Joe passed around an incredible new harmonica tuning and repair toolkit from Hohner. In the past he's always resisted requests to spend class time talking about maintainence and repair but this toolkit opens the door for possible discussion. If it happens that a critical mass of students have the kits and show interest in learning what to do with it, he'll consider spending time on the topic in the future. Our own repair junkie, Al Taylor, is giving the toolkit a thorough examination and will be reviewing it in a coming issue of YouMissedMonday - stay tuned!

Jim Lucas Show!!!

ORIGINAL SONGS IN THE CHICAGO BLUES HARMONICA TRADITION

Songwriting monster Jim Lucas is performing this Friday at Northeastern Illinois University's Faculty Symposium and the public is welcome to attend. Backing him are B1 Band members Al Taylor, Grant Kessler and Highway RickEy.

The performance is at 12:10pm in the Golden Eagles Room of the Student Union.

The main campus address is:
5500 North St. Louis

Directions to the university

The campus map

Parking info
There is open parking on Bryn Mawr Avenue, just west of the university.  Permits may be purchased for $5.00 in Lot H in a drive up machine.

Little Walter Tribute Recording!!!

This in from alert reader Big Jim Themelis:

"Blind Pig Records has announced a live recording date for a special tribute to Little Walter Jacobs featuring some of the finest harmonica players on the current blues scene - Charlie Musselwhite, Billy Boy Arnold, Mark Hummel, James Harman, and Sugar Ray Norcia. The show will take place on Thursday, December 6th at Anthology in San Diego, California."

Lots of B1 friends on this recording! We can't wait to hear it. Meantime, to read more, click here.

Chicago Harp Players On New Releases!!!


Speaking of new recordings, here are a couple in the can you should look into, shared with us by Bob Corritore. Congrats to Chicago harp players featured - Scott Dirks, Dave Waldman and Martin Lange!
  • "Elmore James Jr., Old School Lover on Wolf Records is another "on the mark" release that mostly stays in the senior's bag but also covers some Jimmy Rogers. Guest stars on Elmore's CD are Illinois Slim, Eddie Taylor Jr., Scott Dirks and Dave Waldman.
  • Another gold nugget is Willie Buck,  Cell Phone Man on Delmark Records, where Willie's no-nonsense voice is backed by Rockin' Johnny and Rick Kreher on guitars, Barrelhouse Chuck on piano, and Bharath Rajakumar and Martin Lange providing spectacular harmonica work."
Class Notes
  • Recital sign-up sheets are due YESTERDAY. Which means you must email YMM or Joe right away to let us know if you'd like to participate. All of Joe's current students are welcome - speak up!
  • Joe's away one more date this year - November 26th. Already planning a turkey hangover, apparently! No worries though - Shoji Naito has got it covered so don't miss class!
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 287 #330)

 Song Groove!!!
 
With discussion of song form and key behind us, Shoji moved on to the topic of groove. The first step in understanding the "style" or groove of a song is counting to determine whether it is a triplet feel, the shuffle beat we hear most in blues, or a duplet (or straight eighths) feel. The triplet sound is to be heard in box shuffles, swing, boogie and of course shuffle tunes. The most common form in blues that is duplet would be the rhumba, but you also hear it in rocking blues songs, soul, funk  and R&B.
 
We did some experimenting with playing a triplet song over a duplet groove and vice versa, learning that the two rhythms often, but not always, clash. Most successful was the triplet over the duplet feel, but try it yourself to see!
 
Another great night of digging deep into music understanding and we're all better for it - thanks Shoji!
Bill's Blues Jam Revisited!!!
 
Hey all, Bill is back and hosting a blues jam in Evanston, running Wednesdays and starting tonight!
 
Globe Cafe in the Hilton Orrington Hotel, Evanston
8:30pm
Class Notes
  • Joe's back next week and all of his classes run as normal
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 286 #329)



Chord Structure!!!

Joe's still playing hooky but Shoji is doing a great job of running classes! Conversation this week was an expansion on last week's topic of truly understanding the songs. Using song examples he talked about how to listen for the tonic of a song, hum it to yourself then pick up harps and blow the one hole to find that same note. This is a terrific way to determine the key of the song and also to learn to "hear" that key. I for one was surprised that he listened through the whole song form to feel and hear that tonic, not just the one chord.

With the tonic and one chord under control, the next step with your twelve harps and his chord handout is to work to determine the rest of the song form and the chord changes. Remember that the most valuable lesson Shoji imparts with these lessons is how little time he spends with instrument in hand and how much time he spends using his ears! We all should do the same.

Thanks for the inspiration, Shoji!


Class Notes
  • Announcing the Zoe Savage Level Two Blues Harmonica class! Register now (and tell your aspiring friends) for her Saturday class, 4pm in the new Lincoln Avenue building.
  • Joe will be out of town November 5 - his private lessons will not meet but his group classes proceed as normal in the capable hands of Shoji Naito.
  • Al Taylor may, or may not be leading an informal jam session from 3:30-5:30pm next week in B1. Stop by and see!
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 285 #328)


Understanding Songs!!!

Joe's away this week but Shoji led a terrific class aided by our rhythm guy, Highway RickEy. Shoji handed out blank staff paper and played songs for us to listen to, really listen.

We learned to hear the component parts of songs, listening for the bass line, identifying the groove, hearing where chord changes happen (even if we may not know what chords they are right away) and counting out the structure of the song. There is so much to learn about a song just by listening and not even touching the harmonica. As Shoji says, he goes through this process daily with new songs he's working on. Listen, analyze, make notes and truly understand the song. What's the guitar doing? What's the second guitar doing? What's the hornline? 8 bar? 16 bar? Cut time?

Your challenge for next week is to identify a few songs you'd like to better understand. Listen to them on your own this week and take a stab at these things. Note as many things about the song as you can and then bring it to class for us all to listen to.

This was truly a valuable class for all - we need to think beyond the harp parts and hear and understand it all!

Class Notes

  • New session at Old Town starts October 29 so re-register NOW!
  • Joe will be out of town October 29 and November 5 - his private lessons will not meet but his group classes proceed as normal in the capable hands of Shoji Naito.
  • Grant and Al will be leading an informal jam session from 3:30-5:30pm on October 29th in B1. Stop by and play! Practice for recital!

- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 285 #328)


Kick Off That Song!!!

Continuing to think about what makes a strong stage performance, Joe addressed getting from one song to the next with minimal downtime and chatter with the band. So, how minimal can you be in your verbal information? How about only stating the key of the song?

With the fabulous B1 band to demonstrate, Joe called off song after song with only the key and showed that all the other things we typically describe like tempo and groove can be communicated non-verbally. What are the principles?

  • Be deliberate. Your opening has to be forceful and crystal clear.
  • Lead off with a standard riff or bass line. If you want a rumba for example, you have to lead off with that line.
  • Project the tempo with your body even before you start to play.
  • Don't be concerned with exactly where the band rolls in - if you play deliberately and the band is worth its salt, it will come together naturally. It may not be the arrangement you'd achieve if you talked it through, but that is not the point of launching this way.
  • Recital is coming up - consider polishing your stage presence and showmanship by moving to at least one of your songs in this way.

Class Notes

  • New session at Old Town starts October 29 so re-register today!
  • Joe will be out of town October 22, 29 and November 5 - his private lessons will not meet but his group classes proceed as normal in the capable hands of Shoji Naito.
  • Grant and Al will be leading an informal jam session from 3:30-5:30pm on October 22nd and 29th in B1. Stop by and play! Practice for recital!


Joe On Disc!!!

Hey Joe fans! Get your Filisko fix with these two new releases:

Joe Filisko & Eric Noden, Missed Train Blues

Diamond Jim Greene, Surrounded - Joe plays three tunes on this disc

Fourkey Harp Tuning!!!

B1's new friend Roger has been pulling off some terrific melodies in class with a custom tuning called fourkey tuning. Not typically a blues harp tuning, Joe has been noodling with it a little and pulled off some terrific blues improv last night in the key of B. It can be done!

Read more about the tuning and where you can get one of these harps at 4KeyHarps.

- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 284 #327)


Repackage Your Repertoire!!!

Joe started class last night with his reiteration of how happy he was with all the Bash proceedings. He especially would like to thank the entire B1 community for its ongoing support of the Bash - Joe organizes the Bash for B1 but it could not happen without B1 involvement with everything from planning to CD and ticket purchases. Thanks all!

Sugar Ray (and Little Walter) by Andy Willis

You can relive the Bash in photos from Grant Kessler here: Bash Photos

Inspired by Sugar Ray Norcia's command of the stage and thinking ahead some to our own upcoming Recital, Joe's topic last night was a demonstration of how to repackage a tune in your repertoire. His suggestion is that you should know which vocal tune in your repertoire would lend itself to other grooves than the one you usually play.

His example was to sing the Jimmy Reed shuffle, Baby What You Want Me To Do. Next step was to sing the same song over a rhumba groove, a box shuffle, even a very slow blues. Suddenly your repertoire expands and you have different grooves to pull out at a jam or if you're sitting in and the band's already been doing shuffle after shuffle. Time to mix it up!

Interesting and valuable lesson - try it at home and have it in your tool box.

Class Notes

  • Joe will be out of town October 22, 29 and November 5 - his private lessons will not meet but his group classes proceed as normal in the capable hands of Shoji Naito.

Joe On Disc!!!

Hey Joe fans! Get your Filisko fix with these two new releases:

Joe Filisko & Eric Noden, Missed Train Blues

Diamond Jim Greene, Surrounded - Joe plays three tunes on this disc

- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 283 #326)


Sugar Ray Norcia!!!

On the heels of an incredible Chicago Blues Harp Bash (more on that below), B1 welcomed Sugar Ray Norcia to class this week and we had a terrific time!

Sugar Ray started by talking about the musical family he comes from - his mom an accomplished jazz singer, his dad a middle school music teacher and auther of the book The Voice, and his brother played in bands as well. It was a touching moment when he described his dad being a harp player - not a blues player, but a folksong and melody player and entertainer. He remembers him doing songs like the Wreck of the 97 and it was so cool to have Sugar Ray launch into the song, singing and playing in honor of his father!

For the fans of Big Walter Horton in the room it was a treat to hear Ray tell so many Horton stories from his days touring with him and awesome to have him play a bunch of Horton tunes with our friend Harlan Terson sitting in on bass. Harlan was on Horton's last tour! Here's a short Walter story: When he got tired on a set, he'd say to the band, "Give me half a beat. Don't give me a whole beat or it's gonna deaden me!" This was his twisted English way of asking for a slow blues!

Ray answered questions and addressed topics like songwriting and staying successful as a musician. On this last topic he said you need:
  • perserverence
  • stubbornness - in his case, playing music beats building houses which he as grudgingly done at times to fill in the gaps financially
  • strong constitution for life on the road
  • a supportive wife
Ray played beautifully, including the classic from his Grammy nominated disc Superharps, Life Will Be Better. It was a wonderful night in B1 with an incredible group of special guests in the house: Jim Liban made the trek down from Milwaukee and we also had our good buddy and originator of the YouMissedMonday newsletter, Big Jim Themelis on hand, plus our friends Ron Sorin, Buzz Krantz and Albert Lesakowski all the way from Buffalo, New York!

Thanks for your warmth, kindness and music Sugar Ray - it was an evening we will not soon forget!

Chicago Blues Harp Bash #5 A Huge Success!!!

Our fifth Bash was Sunday at SPACE in Evanston and it was an incredible night of music, harmonica and special guests!

Highway RickEy, Tim Spahn, Dave Waldman, Billy Flynn and Corporate Kirk Manley did a terrific job laying down beautiful and inspiring blues playing and singing! The house was packed and they were putting on a show, all in a great lead-up to our headliner, Sugar Ray Norcia!

Sugar Ray made it clear he is a monster harp player, singer and entertainer, putting on a set that worked through classic blues and had the audience clamoring for a couple encores!


Special thanks to all the additional musicians and vocalists who shared the stage and made the night memorable:

Shoji Naito played guitar on the Highway RickEy set and also jumped in when Billy Flynn played harp. Oscar Wilson from the Cash Box Kings sang some for Billy Flynn; Ardella Williams (Jazz Gillum's daughter!) and Willie Buck sang with Dave Waldman and Kirk had two guests join him: the legendary Erwin Helfer played piano with him and the not-so-legendary Grant Kessler played second harp on one tune.

Thanks also to the amazing backing band that makes this all possible - the Grammy-winning Billy Flynn band featuring Billy Flynn on guitar, Mike Flynn on bass and Steve Bass on drums.

We couldn't put on such a terrific show without the help and support of a fantastic music venue. Thanks to Dave Specter and Jake from SPACE for making this all possible and giving the Chicago Blues Harp Bash a home these past few years! We love it there!

The audience was amazing and supportive - thanks to all in attendance and especially to our esteemed musician friends who turned out: Peter Madcat Ruth and Big Joe Manfra, Martin Lange, Buzz Krantz, Big Jim Themelis, Eric Noden and many more!

Lastly a shout out to our "support staff" who make it all happen: Jaime Viehweg who builds and maintains our Chicago Blues Harp Bash website; Bone who pushes ticket sales; Mrs. Filisko who pushes product sales at the Bash; Mrs. Corporate, Marianna Delinck Manley, who puts together a terrific Bash poster for us every year; Andy Willis who puts amazing caricatures of the performers down on paper; and Grant Kessler, operator of the Subaru Shuttle Service.

And never forget to thank your rehearsal band - thanks to the B1 Blues Band for ongoing musical support, inspiration and education: Shoji Naito, Highway RickEy, Al Taylor and Grant Kessler.

Another great Bash - see ya next year!

Class Notes
  • Announcing the next class recital - December 15 at the Harlem Avenue Lounge. Begin working on your material now and as Joe says, he wants to hear your performance repertoire. Play pieces you perform well.
Sugar Ray & The Bluetones!!!

So you got yourself a copy of the new disc Evening and want to play along? Joe shares the harps Sugar Ray is playing on each track (if not noted, second position):
  1. A
  2. A 1st, D 2nd/A 1st, D 2nd
  3. no harp
  4. A
  5. C
  6. LF
  7. no harp
  8. chromatic
  9. A 3rd
  10. G 3rd
  11. A
  12. C
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 282 #325)


Use Your Tongue!!!

Culturally we learn things visually. We are taught to write things down to reinforce them in our brain but this can lead to our lacking well-developed audio storage in our head. We need both, particularly as musicians.

Where is this going? To your tongue, of course! Joe has a theory that in many cases we have built up a false image in our head about the limitations of our tongue. It is an amazing muscle and we need to realize that and create an image in our mind about what it can do. A guitar player can see his fingers and watch other peoples' as well. Harp players lack that visual reinforcement, but rest assured, you can get your tongue to do amazing things on the harp if you believe in it!

Joe's quick exercise to prove this? Try singing tra-la-la-la-la quickly, like in a Christmas song. Of course you can do it, and that is all tongue action. Now you need to translate that ability into your harp playing!

Chicago Blues Harp Bash #5!!!


It's here! This Sunday! See you there!

Class Notes
  • Sugar Ray Norcia will be the special guest in B1 on October 1!
  • Announcing the next class recital - December 15 at the Harlem Avenue Lounge. Begin working on your material now and as Joe says, he wants to hear your performance repertoire. Play pieces you perform well.


Sugar Ray Norcia In B1!!!

As if catching Sugar Ray headlining the Bash Sunday is not enough, come catch him in B1 next Monday night, October 1 to hear him play up close and personal and ask him questions.

We'll have the long-lost, official class mascot Big Jim Themelis in class that night too, so it will be a special one not to miss!

- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 280 #323)


Basic Blues Harp Playing Rules!!!

To launch the new session Joe did a review of his four basic rules for playing harp. It's beginner-ish information, but vital for all players and good to review, particular if you're struggling with something. The answer to more advanced player problems lies in not having these fundamentals down:

  1. Restrict your playing to holes 1-5. Always good advice.
  2. Inhale. Blues power and expression lie in the inhale notes on the lower end of your harp. This is where the blues scale lurks so when in doubt, inhale!
  3. Relax. Look in a mirror and watch yourself play. Are you relaxed? Or are you exerting and scrunching up your shoulders? Drop your right arm, stand up straight, lift your chin and practice all this in front of a mirror regularly until it becomes second nature. Body tension is your enemy.
  4. The tongue is to a harp player what fingers are to a guitar player. Master your instrument by mastering your dexterity.

Joe also made a renewed call for people to step up and inform him of their personal goals so he can make class valuable for everyone. If you need something, let him know so he can address it.

Big Jim Themelis Interview!!!

Our buddy, the originator of the YouMissedMonday newsletter, and the official B1 mascot, Big Jim Themelis was interviewed recently by Michael Limnios, a Greek blues blogger. Read the full interview here:

Big Jim Themelis: Smokin' Blues Soul

Chicago Blues Harp Bash #5!!!


Get your tickets now before they sell out - the reserved table seats are hot items and nearly gone! It's going to be a great show!

Also, be part of the Bash promotional team by:

  • Getting some posters from Joe and getting them up in appropriate places - music stores, shops near SPACE, etc.
  • Sharing this Facebook Event with your friends on Facebook (and of course, click that you'll be attending so word spreads!)

Three cheers to Mrs. Corporate for another terrific poster design! Thanks Marianna!

Class Notes

  • Welcome back to a new session! 

Filisko Solo Show!!!

Mark your calendar for the next Filisko solo show at the Harlem Avenue Lounge, Tuesday, September 18.


New Book From Pat Missin!!!

B1 friend Pat Missin has a new book out that addresses playing on harmonic minor tuned diatonic harps. Here's the description and link:

"'This sounds really cool, but what do I play on it?'

This is often the first comment someone makes after playing a harmonic minor tuned harmonica for the first time. Here is a book that book answers that question. A collection of one hundred and one tunes selected and arranged for a ten hole harmonica in harmonic minor tuning, presented in both standard notation and tablature, gathered from a wide variety of sources - early Western composers, klezmer, the folk musics of the British Isles, Europe, Scandinavia, the Balkan countries, the Middle East and beyond. More than half of the tunes can be played without the use of note bending. Included are sea shanties, waltzes, bourrées, freilachs, schottisches, gavottes, belly dance tunes, Christmas carols, hymns and much more.

Also included is some theoretical background on minor scales and related musical modes, plus layout diagrams for harmonic minor harps in all twelve keys."

Available here: The Harmonic Minor Tunebook


- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 279 #322)


James Conway and Jean Sabot!!!

Jean Sabot is in town from Brittany visiting our buddy James Conway and before they head off to teach and perform at SPAH, they gave B1 a sneak preview of their show!

Conway is, in our humble opinion, one of the finest musicians out there and when it comes to playing Irish music, he's our longtime favorite! He connected recently with Jean Sabot who is a fantastic chromatic player and has the Irish stuff down cold too. They sound terrific together, screaming through lightning-fast jigs and reels in unison, sometimes even in harmony!

Both talked about their technique and alternate tuning approaches and James even had a tongue-switching lesson for us to get that technique happening in our blues playing.

It was a great night of traditional Irish tunes in B1 - thanks James and Jean for stopping by and sharing!

Tuning Table!!!

Attending SPAH this week? Don't forget to stop by the Tuning Table booth and say hi to our own Highway RickEy! Pat Missin, Joe Filisko and David Barrett all think the Tuning Table is a must, so go get one!

Sugar Ray Interview!!!

Blues Blast Magazine has a terrific interview with our Chicago Blues Harp Bash headliner, Sugar Ray Norcia. Read it here!

Chicago Blues Harp Bash #5!!!



Get your tickets now before they sell out - the reserved table seats are hot items and half gone! It's going to be a great show!

Also, be part of the Bash promotional team by:
  • Getting some posters from Joe and getting them up in appropriate places - music stores, shops near SPACE, etc.
  • Sharing this Facebook Event with your friends on Facebook (and of course, click that you'll be attending so word spreads!)
Three cheers to Mrs. Corporate for another terrific poster design! Thanks Marianna!

Class Notes
  • Old Town takes a break - classes resume September 10th. Relax, re-register and we'll see you in September! 
  • The newsletter will take a break during this time too. If special news comes our way, we may do a special announcement here or on our Facebook page.
  • Speaking of registering, our own Zoe Savage is expanding her teaching offerings at Old Town with a Cajun harmonica class as well as a Level 1 Blues Harp class. Sign up!
Goofer Dust!!!
Joe was caught on video in Brighton, England recently sitting in with Goofer Dust and blowing that Thunderbird!


- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 278 #321)


Honeydripper!!!

Joe Liggins' popular tune The Honeydripper was a melody that led to covers. It endears you to audiences when you play songs and melodies that people recognize and The Honeydripper was just such a tune.

We talked about Little Walter's take, Evans Shuffle. This week is the continuation of the study of Walter Horton's version, Honeydripper. (Sorry folks, the newsletter editor went fishing through part one of this song, but the entire transcription is at the link now!)

How do you approach playing over a one-chord tune? Repitition and heavy use of call and response. Notice how Horton phrases in two or four bar increments and repeats the phrases.

Regarding Horton's playing in general, he is Joe's pick for "best all-around diatonic player" based on his incredible tonal range. Horton is the master of hand, head and mic tone and he milks this variety for dynamic performances!

James Conway and Jean Sabot!!!

Our friend and amazing Irish harp player, James Conway, is bringing a special guest from France to B1 next Monday, August 13, so don't miss it! In the meantime, here are two videos of Jean Sabot and James playing together:

The Mooncoin Jig (medley)

Molloy's Favourite (medley)

Tuning Table!!!

More from Pat Missin on the fabulous Harmonica Einstein Tuning Table in the UK edition of Harmonica World Magazine!

You can catch RickEy for a full demo of the tuning table and to get your very own at his SPAH vendor booth next week! Stop by and tell him YouMissedMonday sent ya!

Lee Oskar In Town!!!

Catch Lee Oskar this Wednesday, August 8th at the Guitar Center on Halsted at 7pm.

"Join Guitar Center for a unique evening of insight, performance and discussion with Lee Oskar."

Chicago Blues Harp Bash #5!!!



Get your tickets now before they sell out! It's going to be a great show!

Also, be part of the Bash promotional team by:
  • Getting some posters from Joe and getting them up in appropriate places - music stores, shops near SPACE, etc.
  • Sharing this Facebook Event with your friends on Facebook (and of course, click that you'll be attending so word spreads!)

Three cheers to Mrs. Corporate for another terrific poster design! Thanks Marianna!

Class Notes
  • Next week is the last class of the session. Classes resume September 10th. Relax, re-register and we'll see you in September! 
  • The newsletter will take a break during this time too. If special news comes our way, we may do a special announcement here or on our Facebook page.
  • Speaking of registering, our own Zoe Savage is expanding her teaching offerings at Old Town with a Cajun harmonica class as well as a Level 1 Blues Harp class. Sign up!
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 277 #320)


Blowin' The Family Jewels!!!

Shoji continued his talk from two weeks ago about building up improvisation chops. He used the incredible William Clarke instrumental, Blowin' the Family Jewels, as a template for pulling out cool rhythmic phrases. We lifted a one or two bar phrase, removed the notes and were left with the rhythm. Shoji then demonstrated, first with root notes and then with other notes that you could build your own melody over the given rhythm. It was an eye-opening experience for everyone in B1 and suddenly we were all creating 12 bars of improv that were strong both rhythmically and melodically. No wheedle-deedling here; just great blues!

Remember, rhythm is HALF of the music, so start giving it some respect!

Shoji recommends the album Groove Time if you want a copy of this song!

And if you want a play-along track for this song, go to Blues Harp Tracks - Shoji has made one that is just the right groove and length, in two tempos if you're not up to the 200bpm version just yet! Wanna see the track in action? Here's Shoji playing along with it: video.

Terrific night of instruction Shoji, thanks!

James Conway and Jean Sabot!!!

Our friend and amazing Irish harp player, James Conway, is bringing a special guest from France to B1 on August 13, so don't miss it! In the meantime, here are two videos of Jean Sabot and James playing together:

The Mooncoin Jig (medley)

Molloy's Favourite (medley)

Class Notes
  • Joe will be back in class next week, August 6 and all classes run as normal.
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 276 #319)


Improvisation!!!

Joe is out of town but the extremely talented Shoji Naito led the group classes, ending the day in the eight o'clock class with a terrific discussion on improvisation. He broke the process down into two parts that happen on the fly - composing a melody and then being able to play that melody. First hear a melody and its rhythm in your head. Practice writing it down - obviously not a part of true improvisation, but it is a great learning tool as you're perfecting your improv skills. Lastly, play it. If what you hear in your head is too complicated for you to play, you are overshooting your playing skills and will need to simplify. That's ok - simpler is better anyway!

Repeat and practice this. Keep building melodies and repeat them over the twelve-bar form. You are now composing!

Fantastic class Shoji, thanks!

Class Notes

  • Joe will be back in class next week, July 23rd and all classes run as normal. He will be away again on the 30th and Shoji will take over his group classes.
  • Shout out to Bad Brad for visiting B1 yesterday - great to see you again Brad!
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 275 #318)


Long Distance Call!!!

First off, a huge thanks from Joe to everyone who made the Adam Gussow visit such a success last week! B1 was packed and Adam had a great time!

Next up was a study of the Muddy Waters and Little Walter classic, Long Distance Call. You hear evidence of Sonny Boy I in Walter's playing here, especially bar 11 licks, but less and less. Check out that full step three draw bend on the first bar 4, for instance - definitely not Sonny Boy phrasing!

Other cool things to note - there is mostly inhale playing (hint: blues scale) which keeps things lowdown and also check out Walter's careful use of the flat seventh to outline the chord changes. Speaking of the seventh, blues scale playing would normally steer you away from playing the major seventh at all, but notice that Walter hits it on page two. Why does that work? Because it's a masterful chromatic line!

One last tip - look carefully at bar 9 on every verse. Don't reinvent the wheel!
Repetition = Good!
Long Distance Call = Killer Tune!

YouMissedMonday Podcast!!!

Announcing the YouMissedMonday podcast, recorded by Highway RickEy and curated by Shoji Naito. Now you can hear a few tunes from the B1 performances via podcast or "play now" options. Click the Podcast subscription button on the right hand column of the YouMissedMonday website and check it out. This will feature live B1 recordings and will be updated about once a month. Enjoy!

Class Notes

  • Reminder: Joe will be out of town next week, July 16th  - his private lessons will not occur, but all group classes happen as regularly scheduled. Shoji Naito will lead instruction and plans to cover improvisation in Level 4.
  • Blues Jam - Grant and Al Taylor will be hosting a casual, drop-in jam from 3:30-5:45pm next Monday in B1. Come by to work on a tune, ask questions and learn to play in a "circle jam". Easy, low-key and open to all levels.
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 274 #317)


Adam Gussow!!!

Adam Gussow is on the road with his one-man blues show and he made a stop in B1 last night!

Adam talked about his gear choices, complete with a full demo of how he sets up his small vintage amps, blowing through a Shure PE5 dynamic mic with a Boss DD3 delay pedal and a Sennheiser 906E mic hanging in front of the speaker and running to the PA for a fuller sound in the room. Lots of great gear info for the aspiring gigging harp player!

Adam has had some terrific mentor experiences, playing both with Sterling Magee in the duo Satan and Adam on the streets of New York as well as being around Nat Riddles who taught him:

  • the importance of tongue-blocking
  • various vibrato and tremelo techniques (throat, belly, jaw, hand movement)
  • and encouraged him to listen to people he was not listening to at the time like Kim Wilson and John Lee Williamson

Much of what Adam demonstrated and spoke to kept coming back to the idea that "...just because you do something one way, be willing to try something new; open yourself up to serendipity..." He even made the comment that he's played the lick in Good Morning Little Schoolgirl one way for years and learned a different way from Joe and the YMM Newsletter! Thanks for the nod and we're glad you're reading, Adam!

Check out Adam's website for lots of additional info: instructional videos and tabs, workshop and teaching opportunities, CDs, gear for sale and more about his influences Sterling Magee (Satan) and Nat Riddles.

It was a packed house, including special guests Ron Sorin, Al Miller, Harlan Terson and Graham Nelson in the crowd to hear from Professor Gussow. Great to have you in B1, Adam!

Gary Primich CDs!!!

The Gary Primich family did two terrific things recently. One, they released a double CD of Gary's music, including some previously unreleased cuts on "Gary Primich - Just A Little Bit More". This is a wonderful gift to the harp world!

Secondly, the family sent along a case of the discs for B1 students and we're thrilled to have them! Gary visited B1 multiple times and is a special part of the B1 family! Thanks to the Primich family for taking such good care of us!

We sent Darsha, Gary's sister, a copy of our recent recital CD and she sent along this sweet note:
"Thank you, Joe, B1 students, honored guest teachers, and all others for your wonderful 2012 harmonica recital CD: "On The Record". I am really excited to listen to it - especially the original songs! I will of course share this treasure with my dad, Gary's dad, Jack! And we will talk about the amazing harp choir performance B1 students so lovingly gave at Gary's memorial service, in 2007.

Thank you for this awesome gift ! B1 is never far from my heart !

Gratefully yours, Darsha Primich" 

Three Cheers For Al Nemcek!!!

We could not have been more excited to see our dear friend Al Nemcek back in B1 last night after his surgery. We wish you a speedy recovery Al, and look forward to hearing you play again before too long! It hasn't been the same without you.

Class Notes
  • Reminder: Joe will be out of town July 16th and 30th - his private lessons will not occur, but all group classes happen as regularly scheduled. Shoji Naito will lead instruction.

- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 273 #316)


Brandon Bailey!!!

B1 was pleased to have Brandon Bailey visiting us last night from Memphis - he sang and played some killer stuff on a slow blues tune, then gave us a taste of the harp-boxing techniques he's most known for. Inspired by Son of Dave and Sonny Boy I and guided by Adam Gussow, Brandon is making a name for himself with one terrific disc under his belt already Memphis Grooves and another on the way. He's crowdsourcing the production costs of his next disc, so head over to Kickstarter and throw something his way to keep this fabulous young harp player moving up!

Thanks for dropping by, Brandon!

With the time we had left, Joe did a review for some people who may not have a solid understanding of ghost chording. This solid, rhythmic technique gives your playing drive and rhythm and if you doubt it's being essential, listen to Off the Wall by Little Walter!

Class Notes

  • Welcome to the new session! Joe will be out of town July 16th and 30th - his private lessons will not occur, but all group classes happen as regularly scheduled. Shoji Naito will lead instruction.
  • Don't miss the talented Adam Gussow in B1 next week at 8pm! All current students and friends of B1 are encouraged to attend.
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 272 #315)


She Moves Me!!!

There's nothing much more moving than Muddy Waters and Little Walter on this tune, that's for sure!

She Moves Me was recorded July 11, 1951 and is the first released recording of Little Walter blowing amplified harp. You can hear evidence that it is both homage to Sonny Boy I while at the same time it is Walter taking blues harp playing in new directions. For an example of the former, see bars 7 and 8 of the first chorus which is solid Sonny Boy. Want proof that this is also the inventive and jazz influenced Little Walter? Among other things, check out his five and six draw headshakes which introduce a ninth chord feel.

Other cool things happening are:
  • Walter's solid ability to stick to one repeating riff at the front of the first and second verse. Resisting the urge to play constant new stuff (also known as wheedle-deedling!) is masterful and serves the music.
  • Walter and Muddy are a tight duo, feeding off each other and driving the vocals and harp playing forward. Listen carefully to the strength of their call and response - this is accompaniment playing at its best!
Joe recommends you also listen to two other songs from the same recording session, Country Boy and My Fault.

Highway RickEy in the Press!!!

Pat Missin reviews the Highway RickEy tuning table in the current issue of Harmonica World Magazine. Full text is not online, but here's an excerpt:
"I had the pleasure of meeting the multi-talented Einstein (Rick Trankle) in Chicago last year and whilst his invention is not going to revolutionise the world in the same way as Albert Einstein's work, the Tuning Table could make life much easier for people wanting to tune a diatonic harmonica with less fuss and/or less swearing!"
Big Jim, who likes swearing, will not be interested, but the rest of you may. Order today or catch RickEy at his booth at SPAH in August to see the tuning table in action.

Shoji Naito and the Chicago Blue Aces!!!

Not too many of you missed Sunday, that's for sure! Huge thanks to all of our B1 friends who turned out for the killer Muddy Waters set Shoji organized Sunday at Old Town. Shoji did a brilliant job putting together a solid set showcasing the various playing styles and playing partners Muddy worked with over the years - which opened the door for powerful vocals and lots of harp playing, even on a show meant to feature guitar!

The band was: Shoji Naito, guitar; Highway RickEy, drums, vocals and harp; Corporate Kirk Manley, vocals, harp; Joe Filisko, harp; Grant Kessler, vocals, harp and second guitar; and Gavin Tun, bass.

If you missed Sunday, here's video for you to enjoy: Standing Around Crying.

Class Notes
  • Last class of this session was yesterday - re-up!
  • The talented Adam Gussow is in B1 in two weeks!
Tall Paul on CD!!!

Our buddy Tall Paul Sabel hit the studio recently with Azul de Noce and is on a half dozen tracks on their new CD: Alistando El Viaje

Congrats Paul!

Grant Kessler, B1Blues Crew

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 271 #314)


Evans Shuffle!!!

Joe did a quick recap of the amazing session we had with David Barrett last week, stressing these two key points David made:
  • The more active you play, the softer you need to play; the more repetition you play, the louder you can play.
  • Phrasing trumps chord changes.
If you were sleeping when we recommended it last week, get his book Accompaniment Playing and get to work!

Back then to the study of Evans Shuffle!

Remember that this tune, named in honor of a DJ who was a fan of Muddy Waters and Little Walter, was based on the Joe Liggins swing vocal tune, The Honeydripper. This was a popular tune at the time and Walter's taking it up as an instrumental is no accident - it is clearly done with the understanding that audiences like to hear tunes and melodies they know.

Joe pointed out numerous phrases in these pages of the transcription where you hear Walter directly quoting the original but it is also interesting to note that in a case like page 4, he opts for the blusier flat seventh. Listen to Liggins and you'll more likely hear the major seventh happening in this phrasing.

Thanks to Highway RickEy conversation turned also to a discussion of Walter's counting. It's a one chord tune and you can count it a number of ways, but to RickEy's ear there are various length phrases, usually in groups, and they have varying lengths. Joe pointed out that Walter was often accused by other musicians as having "bad timing" but likely what they really meant was that he counted irregularly (ie he had bad meter).

Of course "bad" is subjective - Juke had "bad" meter but was a number one hit! You be the judge!

Two other thoughts from Joe - consider this song as a possible solo piece if you're working on it and also, be sure to check out Walter Horton's version, titled The Honeydripper.

18th Recital CDs!!!

Bring your cash next week - the 18th Recital CDs will be for sale in class!



Joe Recommends!!!

For anyone interested in bluegrass and country blues, Joe recommends you check out the CD Rural Dwellers by John Henry. It is especially applicable to students in Joe's rhythm and chording class so check it out!

Shoji Naito and the Chicago Blue Aces!!!

Shoji is part of the Old Town School guitar concert this Sunday, June 17 and he's pulled together a great Muddy Waters tribute set. Come hear our masterful guitar playing friend lay down the Muddy sound with support from Highway RickEy, Corporate Kirk Manley, Joe Filisko, Grant Kessler and Gavin Tun.

Class Notes
  • Last class of this session is next week - re-up!
Chicago Blues Festival!!!

There were harp players everywhere for the blues festival! Huge kudos to the Windy City Blues Society for featuring harp so much on their stage. Omar Coleman played some great harp, laying down melody and tasty lines in service to the song - love to see him making music! He had Ivan Marcio and Lamont Harris sit in as well on his set. Next up, Harry Garner hosted and we heard from Tom Albanese, Scott Dirks, Lamont Harris, Joe Filisko, Corporate Kirk Manley, Deak Harp, Harp Dog and others who are escaping us now.

Meanwhile Billy Branch was playing some lowdown blues with Sam Lay, Bob Corritore was on various stages and in the clubs and of course our very own, newly christened "Mr. Jeff" Filisko* played the big stage with Kenny Smith and friends, all in tribute to the Muddy Waters extended blues family.

It's been a great blues harmonica week!

* We got a kick out of Mud Morganfield referring to Joe as "Mr. Jeff". Joe takes it in stride and was just thrilled Mud wanted him to keep playing!


- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 270 #313)


David Barrett!!!

Reknowned harmonica instructor David Barrett joined us last night all the way from San Jose, CA! David has transitioned from years of teaching Harmonica Masterclasses to offering instruction through his fantastic website, BluesHarmonica.com. It is a rich resource of educational materials based on transcriptions, videos, online lessons, interviews with the pros and more! Sign up and get your act together!

David has also published some of the very best instructional books and if you missed out in the mad rush for them last night, they are available here: Books. Note that one of his recent books, Rock Harmonica, does cover fast lick playing as you'd expect, but David points out there is great info in there for the traditional blues player as well. It has good material on approaching soloing scales and also on playing over non-twelve bar songs.

The primary focus of David's talk with us was accompaniment playing. He outlined and demonstrated numerous accompaniment playing styles and approaches, stressing that you keep these two guidelines in mind:
  • The more active you play, the softer you need to play.
  • The more repetition you play, the louder you can play.
Next up was an outline of chord tones for the I, IV and V. He built a chart on the board that empowers improvisational playing and horn line construction. He even pulled Al Nemcek up to demonstrate that two harps can easily play harmony horn lines (with variation on the spot) using this chart. Very cool!

When describing the character of different scale degrees over the chord changes, David put it this way:
"If you want to add harmonica to a song, play the root. If you want to add to the song, play the third or the flat seventh."
If you missed it, can't remember it or didn't get your camera pointed at the blackboard, everything he described and more is available in his book on accompaniment playing.

Thanks for your time and expertise, David. It was an inspirational night in B1!

18th Recital CDs!!!

Bring your cash next week - the 18th Recital CDs will be for sale in class!


Class Notes
  • Go to Blues Fest!
Chicago Blues Festival!!!

Lots going on this week, both at the Festival proper and in the clubs around town. Here are a few harp-centric shows to catch. Full details as always on our calendar.

  • Saturday at 4:00pm at the Windy City Blues Society stage, Harry Garner is hosting an "harmonica blowout".
  • Saturday at 6:45pm at the Petrillo Music Shell B1's own Joe Filisko takes the stage to celebrate Muddy Waters disciples.
  • Friday and Saturday nights at The Smokedaddy are hosted by Billy Flynn - lots of guests drop in and play at these shows, especially popular with harp players.
  • Sunday at 4:00pm Scott Dirks and Dave Waldman host a blues fest jam at the Woodlawn Tap.
  • Sunday night Morry Sochat & the Special 20s have Bob Corritore (and likely others) joining in to close out the festival.
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 296 #312)


Evans Shuffle!!!

In 1945, Joe Liggins released the tune The Honeydripper which hit the top of the R&B chart that year. Having that hit in the air meant others performed it and versions of it - Little Walter and Muddy Waters stepped up with a terrific instrumental version, Evans Shuffle. Being a successful and in-demand musician meant being able to play material that people liked and knew well.

Evans Shuffle was recorded in October of 1950 and released under Muddy's name. Walter modifies the opening riff and then the third figure he plays on this first page is the main melody of the original tune.

Check in three weeks from now for more of this great song!

David Barrett In B1!!!

We have a very special guest lined up for our next Monday, June 4. Don't miss this opportunity to learn from the "most accomplished and dedicated blues harp instructor on the planet"!

If you're not already hip to what David does, check out his thorough learning materials, videos and interviews here: BluesHarmonica.com.

Joe has asked David to focus his conversation with us on the topic of accompaniment playing, so for those of you with questions or lack of experience backing up other players and singers, this is going to be a valuable evening. See you in B1 at 8:00pm!

SPAH Youth Grant!!!

- Here's a cool opportunity for young harp players out there to get financial help attending the SPAH convention in August. If that's you or you know someone appropriate, please spread the word!

"In advance of the upcoming convention, SPAH has created the SPAH Youth Grant. The SPAH Youth Support Committee is planning to award up to five grants to talented young (ages 21 and younger) harmonica players depending upon available funds. Grants will cover the convention hotel room bill for up to four nights and the SPAH Convention Youth Package registration. Grant recipients will be required to perform at the convention and to contribute a small amount of his/her time to activities of the Youth Support Committee (for example, selling raffle tickets for prizes at the Saturday night banquet and show). The grant for the 2012 convention is funded by the William Rosebush Youth Outreach Fund. The grant application information is available on our website."

Charlie Musselwhite At Space!!!

You might want to think ahead and get your tickets for the Charlie Musselwhite show at SPACE on June 7...get 'em here: SPACE.


Class Notes
  • No classes next week - Memorial Day! Fire up the barbie! (YMM is taking the week off too!)
Tall Paul Is Married!!!

Yes, it's true! Another blues wife is born! Our buddy Tall Paul Sabel married his longtime girlfriend Silvia last week!

B1 wishes them the very best!

- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 268 #311)


Peter "Madcat" Ruth!!!

It was an exciting night in B1! The room was packed to see Peter "Madcat" Ruth play and talk about his career. Inspired in 1964 by Sonny Terry, his life in music winds through one incredible story after another. It was great fun hearing him describe his three harp lessons with Big Walter Horton - admittedly a very different teaching style from Joe, but Madcat learned a lot from Horton, particularly a strong appreciation for hand technique.

Madcat played for years with the Brubeck brothers, learning melodies, harmonies in a horn section and how to play unusual time signatures. Living in Ann Arbor also put him close to a strong folk music scene, so Madcat has played it all! As he says, "If you want to make a living playing the harmonica, it is good to be versatile."

In addition to the storytelling, Madcat also demonstrated a lot of his playing techniques - how he uses his hands, how he creates that driving rhythm and he even poked fun at himself to show his musical growth over time. He ripped off 24 bars of lightening fast licks and phrases that he says is the way he "used to play". With maturity he knows now it is more musical and compelling to milk a long swooping note or even leave space and when he demonstrated that, it was clear to all how powerful that is!



Get over to the Shaker Microphone website to get one of Madcat's custom-designed harp mics.

And if you missed the chance to pick up one of his CDs last night, get 'em here: Madcat CDs

Thanks for coming, Madcat, it was a terrific night!

Recital #18 Recap!!!

Yes, there was a lot of great harp playing at our 18th recital Saturday night, but the newly formed Queen B1s may have stolen the show - the trio of female backup vocalists Linda Gordon, Ginny Morin and Barb Selvaggio did some terrific singing and stepped up the professionalism of the whole evening!

Joe was thrilled with the recital performances - things went smoothly, space between songs was fairly tight and performances were terrific and inspiring! Joe is especially glad to see so much collaboration going on among both harp players and vocalists.

In class Monday, student Richard England summed it up more poignantly than anyone:

"In two years I'm going to be 80 years old and Saturday was one of the best days of my life!"

Harmonica Murder Mystery!!!

One of our buddies Ricky Bush is a blues blogger at Back In the Day and he has just released a murder mystery called River Bottom Blues. The protagonists are blues harp musicians looking for the killers of another blues harp musician. Sounds like a must-read! Learn more and order here: River Bottom Blues.

Class Notes
  • Start working now on your next Recital material! (Just kidding! Maybe take a week off.)
Gary Primich - Just A Little Bit More!!!

We told you recently Gary's dad has released a posthumous CD with some previously unreleased tracks. It's now available here:

Just A Little Bit More

- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 267 #310)


Recital Rehearsal!!!

We're gearing up for the 18th Old Town Harmonica Recital at the Harlem Avenue Lounge this week, May 12 so class was devoted to rehearsing songs for the big stage!

Here is the full schedule and the page of Joe's Recital Checklist: Schedule.

Bring friends, bring family and do your best to stick around and support all the other players throughout the night. It's always a great time!

Peter Madcat Ruth in B1!!!

Hot on the heels of our recital we'll have a terrific class guest, Peter "Madcat" Ruth on Monday, May 14! Grammy award-winning, Madcat is a treasure in the harp community so be sure to check him out. It will be a fun night you won't want to miss. If you're not registered for classes right now but are within driving range of the school that night, remember that you're always welcome for guest nights like this one!

Silent Harp Practice!!!
 
Our own Harmonica Einstein has this practice tip for you:

Place a very thin fish wire about a third of the way down the reed on both blow and draw reed plates.  Important - air pressure feels very similar to a live harp.  Works in all keys and positions! ;-{

1. Play and hear the notes in your head.  Instead of being distracted by the bad stuff you sometimes automatically play.
2. Play along with a song you are learning to work on hearing and feeling the rhythm and dynamics.

It does not matter if you are really playing the right notes because you cannot actually hear them.  You are trying to hear them in your head.  Then you can find them on the real harp later.

E
What will he think of next?


Class Notes

  • Recital!!!
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week??? (Week 266 #309)


Recital Rehearsal!!!

We're gearing up for the 18th Old Town Harmonica Recital at the Harlem Avenue Lounge next week, May 12 so classes are now devoted to rehearsing songs for the big stage!

If you were out last night, here is the full schedule and the page of Joe's Recital Checklist: Schedule.

Bring friends, bring family and do your best to stick around and support all the other players throughout the night. It's always a great time!

Peter Madcat Ruth in B1!!!

Hot on the heels of our recital we'll have a terrific class guest, Peter "Madcat" Ruth on Monday, May 14! Grammy award-winning, Madcat is a treasure in the harp community so be sure to check him out. It will be a fun night you won't want to miss. If you're not registered for classes right now but are within driving range of the school that night, remember that you're always welcome for guest nights like this one!

Class Notes
  • Recital!!!
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 265 #308)


Baby Please Don't Go!!!

(Sorry we "missed Tuesday" with our newsletter - seems once in a while the job gets in the way of harp newsletter writing!)

Baby Please Don't Go was our study tune this week. It traces back to John Lee Williamson who recorded numerous versions in both first and second position. Check out his terrific sideman playing and versions of the song with Big Joe Williams, including the alternately titled, Don't You Leave Me Here for some of John Lee's hard-driving, rhythmic, powerful playing!

It's clear Muddy Waters was influenced by Sonny Boy I - after all, Sonny Boy had hits that people knew and loved so it's no surprise to hear Muddy covering Baby Please Don't Go with Little Walter on harp.

For Joe, there are two standout reasons to study this song:
  1. The harp playing is both woven into and behind the lyrics but also pushes them.T
  2. The second solo rocks! This is a clear Little Walter homage to Sonny Boy, driving, in the pocket and very simply a frightening solo.
This tune showcases guitar and harp both in "mindblowing musical performances"!

New Gary Primich Release!!!

Three cheers to Gary's dad Jack Primich for keeping his music alive! Jack has produced and will soon release a two CD set which includes seven unreleased tunes - Gary Primich, Just A Little Bit More with Omar Dykes.

It's great to hear "new" stuff from Gary - keep it coming Jack and thanks!

Class Notes
  • You turned in your Recital sign-up sheet Monday, right? If not and you plan to play, speak up within the next five minutes: info@youmissedmonday.com.
  • New Old Town School session starts next week. Sign up now!
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week??? (Week 264 #307)

Goin' Away Baby!!!

As we continue to follow the Sonny Boy Williamson/Little Walter trail, Joe brings us this week to the Jimmy Rogers and Little Walter tune, Goin' Away Baby. Originally done by Sonny Boy as Lord, Oh Lord Blues, Little Walter strips away the second scale degree in his playing and lays down hard-driving, confident blues scale playing. He plays the melody behind Rogers and busts out for the hook part of the tune.

Joe describes this as a 27 bar song - three sections of 8+1 bars. You'll notice it is a variation of the Rollin' and Tumblin' blues form. An alert band will feel the melody and as a result feel the extra bar in the form, but you first have to find an alert band! The onus is on you, the melody-maker and vocalist to be sure the melody is clearly defined so people can follow you through this tricky tune. If you waver, you're sunk!

Shoji demonstrated a fall-back plan and that is that you can make this song work over a more well-known form like Big Boss Man. The B1 band played Big Boss Man and Shoji played the melody on harp - it can work!

Rhythm and Chording Resources!!!

As a follow-up to discussion in the Rhythm and Chording class yesterday, students should check out these two tunes:

Born In Hard Luck by Chris Bouchillon

Arkansas Hard Luck Blues by Lonnie Glosson

New Release!!!

This new disc sounds terrific - Billy Boy Arnold Sings Big Bill Broonzy!

First off, Billy Boy is a living legend on harp and vocals and a great friend of B1! Secondly, Big Bill Broonzy was one of the founders of the Old Town School of Folk Music! And lastly, check out the amazing lineup of talent on this recording:

Billy Boy, Vocals and harp
Eric Noden, Acoustic guitar, producer
Billy Flynn - Electric guitar, mandolin
Beau Sample - Acoustic bass
Rick Sherry - Washboard, percussion, clarinet


Class Notes

  • The next B1 Harmonica Recital at the Harlem Avenue Lounge will be May 12, 2012. Save the date and start working on your performance material. Sign up sheets will be due NEXT WEEK, April 23 and should definitely have your bio on them. Note too that Joe encourages you to make your song choice so that you're playing songs you "own" and can "perform". Come out ready to entertain!
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 263 #306)


More Sloppy Drunk!!!

Continued study of Little Walter playing harp behind Jimmy Rogers on Sloppy Drunk shows him playing an "upgraded and on steroids" version of Sonny Boy I stuff. This is powerful playing!

Walter is accompanying the vocals melodically at times as a jug band player or Sonny Boy might do, but then he also plays fills like a modern blues harp player would. This is a terrific song to see both styles blending in Little Walter.

There is a lot of Sonny Boy in the first solo and even some short puckered phrases to achieve enunciation. Asked about this puckering, Joe jokingly reassured us "puckering is legal as long as you don't do it for more than four bars at a time"!

Note too the Hammy Nixon lick on page five that Sonny Boy popularized.

Whether you can relate to the lyrics or not, this is an essential song form for your repertoire - find a way to get a tune with this feel under your belt!

Stage Fright!!!

Joe is out to understand stage fright and welcomes input from anyone with experience understanding its causes and suggesting possible solutions. Shoot us an email if you have thoughts to share: info@youmissedmonday.com.

Tom Albanese and the Bono Brothers!!!

Check it out! Our good friend Tom Albanese is blowing harp with the Bono Bros this Friday at FitzGerald's and they're featured in this cool TribLocal article.

Class Notes
  • The next B1 Harmonica Recital at the Harlem Avenue Lounge will be May 12, 2012. Save the date and start working on your performance material. Sign up sheets will be due April 23 and should definitely have your bio on them. Note too that Joe encourages you to make your song choice so that you're playing songs you "own" and can "perform". Come out ready to entertain!
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 262 #305)


Sloppy Drunk!!!

As promised, Joe is tying the Sonny Boy Williamson I study to Little Walter by having us look at and listen to Sloppy Drunk. The tune was originally written by Sonny Boy and he recorded it twice, the second time under the title, Bring Me Another Half A Pint. Joe played both tunes for us and then played the Jimmy Rogers/Little Walter version. It is crystal clear that Little Walter's playing on this comes directly out of his being influenced by John Lee and he honorably preserves the general flavor of the original. As Tad Robinson recently pointed out, the sideman stuff Walter does with Jimmy Rogers is arguably his best playing, and this is a great example.

Jimmy Rogers, as a reminder, was a part of the Muddy Waters ensemble and is also one of the two guitarists on Juke. Walter plays almost constantly under, behind, and around Rogers' vocals. This is truly a classic blues sound and playing style, but it is also fairly uncommon for audiences and other musicians nowadays. Be wary of playing this way - it is the most difficult accompaniment technique to do well and it may not feel comfortable to other players and vocalists. Watch those in your band or whomever you're sitting in with to be sure they're ok with it and remember, 'when in doubt, lay out'!

There was an informative discussion about the form of this song. Joe tabbed it as a 24 bar song (with a quick change) because most of the musicians are playing that way. Shoji points out though that if you think just about the bass line, it is clearly a 12 bar form. In any case, be cautious performing it with a band that doesn't know it. You might get off on the right foot by describing it like Mojo, Big Boss Man or Sugar Sweet, but it would also be very helpful to play an intro from the V that makes your feel and groove very clear.

This is a great song to add to your repertoire so as to add variation to a set! Check in next week for the second half of the tune!

Stage Fright!!!

Joe is out to understand stage fright and welcomes input from anyone with experience understanding its causes and suggesting possible solutions. Shoot us an email if you have thoughts to share: info@youmissedmonday.com.

Class Notes

  • The next B1 Harmonica Recital at the Harlem Avenue Lounge will be May 12, 2012. Save the date and start working on your performance material. Sign up sheets will be due at the end of April.
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew