Seems like the newsletter is on a roll with errors lately, so here's another correction: In last week's newsletter, we attributed our study song, Help Me, to John Lee Williamson, which is a rookie mistake for a harp player to make - we definitely meant Rice Miller, aka Sonny Boy Williamson II.
Joe had a cool Rice Miller version of Help Me to share with us last night - he's playing live with the Chris Barber jazz band in England on Lost & Found Vol. 3. It's a curious version because he's playing and signing in the key of C. Of course, he can make an F harp sound terrific and he is a chameleon who can sing in seemingly any key, but why would he do the tune in this key? It's a mystery - perhaps it was just the only harp he had handy; maybe it was the horn band's preference; maybe, as his numerous versions of Bye Bye Bird in every imaginable key illustrate, he just didn't attach a key to a song like we do. In any case, he handles both the harp playing and signing as you'd expect, with skill and passion.
We used some class time for more blues scale practice, taking turns playing the scale up and down over the bassline. Practice this at home - learn the blues scale and run it up and down over a Help Me play-along track so you hear it correctly. Do the same in first and third position. Or, if you're more advanced, nail it in fifth or sixth. Then change the rhythm and duration of the notes you're playing. It's great ear training, bending practice, and you'll find you're sneaking up on improvisation at the same time.
- The 8:00pm Performance Class will repeat its very successful recording project, this time on October 5. You should be practicing your recording song in B1 next week.
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew