It happens that Mark Hummel was in the area and made an impromptu stop in B1 last night! He'll be back at Old Town Friday this week as part of the Harmonica Convergence II show, so see below and quick, get your tickets to see this monster lineup!
It was great to have Mark back in class. Joe launched things by mentioning we've been studying Walking By Myself lately, so with no prior warning, Hummel fired up the band and did his version of the classic for us. He says he probably hasn't played the tune in over six months, maybe longer, but the original solo is obviously very ingrained - he kept close to it for 24 bars then did another 24 bars of his own. It was great fun to see this song we've been working on be brought to life by a pro in class!
Mark loves the song and says it's certainly one of the earliest he worked on, starting with the Canned Heat version but then working back to the original from Horton. It's a "great melody" and catchy, he says, plus of course it has killer harp on it. He also gave a nod to Jimmy Rogers as a singer, saying he has both an "urbane" and a country blues sound in his voice at the same time.
Joe asked whether it is typical for Mark to play both of the original Horton solos verses on this song when he does it live and Mark said yes, with his own solos appended or mixed in with it. Why, asked Joe. In tribute to Horton, was the simple answer.
Mark talked, answered questions and did a lot of playing, in particular with a nod to certain players' styles. We heard Horton, Junior Wells, James Cotton and George Smith from Mark, all with infectious enthusiasm. Advice? One, record yourself. Audio recordings don't lie. Two, take lessons!
Also, Hummel has just released his new book, Big Road Blues, a memoir of his life on the road.
Thanks for visiting, Mark, and we'll see you Friday!
Clay Kirkland 21st Century Blues Workshop!!!
Hey all, check out this one-time workshop at Old Town this Sunday, April 27 from 2-3:30pm:
Join Denver harmonica artist Clay Kirkland, recipient of the first annual Swallow Hill Music Distinguished Faculty Award, in his residency visit to the Old Town School. Clay has taught thousands of students in a career spanning 25 years. He says, “I’m going to come to Chicago and teach traditional blues at the Old Town School? I don’t think so. They’ve had that covered for decades.”
Areas Clay will teach include: how to use pranayama (yoga breathing techniques) to play ridiculously fast, control the high notes, and gain great breath control; mixing the blues with the classical raga style of India; rocking the blues with fiery licks; playing quietly and sweetly; taking your playing to the next level.
Bring a recording device and you are encouraged to bring harmonicas in all keys.
Prerequisites: Open to all musicians and listeners!
Register here now!
Harmonica Convergence II!!!
The April 25, 7 PM Harmonica Convergence II at the Old Town School at 4544 Lincoln Avenue calls together a summit meeting and celebration of Chicago Blues legends and harp geniuses who are the real deal. Link to more concert information.
Special Note: Joe's Rhythm & Chording Class will kick off this show with a couple ensemble tunes and Joe's also got duets planned with Highway RickEy!
A few years back a Harmonica Convergence took place at the Old Town School and since then, countless requests for a reprise have finally brought us to celebrate Harmonica Convergence II. This time we are delighted to announce the participation of Chicago legend Billy Boy Arnold who learned harp from his neighbor, the great John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson, one of the greatest Blues harp masters of all time. Billy Boy later joined forces touring and recordings with Bo Diddley. Arnold's original songs have been covered by everyone from The Yardbirds to David Bowie.
From the west coast Mark Hummel joins this band of harp all-stars. Mark is known for his extraordinary Little Walter-like harmonica sound, and has just been nominated for a 2014 Grammy Award for his new CD titled Remembering Little Walter. Mark shares that, "Walter's original sides have become the holy grail all other harpers are still trying to aspire to."
Corky Siegel, Chamber Blues progenitor, co-founder of the Siegel-Schwall Band and Chicago Blues Reunion participant has brought the blues harmonica from classical symphony halls as guest soloist with orchestra to blues festivals and clubs. He attained world-wide recognition through platinum selling symphonic blues recordings as soloist on harmonica with the San Francisco Symphony on Deutsche Grammophon and popular recordings on Vanguard, RCA, and Alligator Records. He is a master of musical mirth, and the Old Town School is always a good-time "family" reunion of old friends.
The Old Town School's own Joe Filisko rounds out this hand of harmonica aces. Joe was named by SPAH (Society for the Preservation and Advancement of Harmonica) as the "Harmonica Player Of The Year."
Electric blues guitarist Billy Flynn provides superb backing, along with the solid bass work of RW Grigsby who has backed a who's who of music icons. Kenny Smith, son of famed Muddy Water's drummer Willie "Big Eyes" Smith will be driving the beat for this rare convergence of legends.
Save Muddy's House!!!
Folks, Muddy Waters' house on the south side is listed on Landmarks Illinois' 10 Most Endangered Historic Places. It's in foreclosure and in jeopardy of being torn down. The Morganfield Foundation has formed to raise money to save this blues treasure and rehab it. Read about the effort and donate here if you can!
Peter Madcat Ruth!!!
Peter “Madcat” Ruth will be in class next Monday! Madcat will be focusing his discussion on relaxation, tone, breathing and singing, as it relates to the harmonica.
Everyone is encouraged to attend this 8pm session!
- New session starts next week - register now!
The New York Times ran an epic tale this week, chasing the mystery of a couple blues women from Mississippi to Grafton, Wisconsin to Houston. Who were they? Are those really their names? What do they sound like? Why did they go their separate ways? What does blues historian Mack McCormick know that he's not telling? Is it true we only have six songs on scratchy 78s of these two?
This is a fascinating read!
The Ballad of Geeshie and Elvie - On the trail of the phantom women who changed American music and then vanished without a trace.
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew