Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 343 #387)

Walking Thru The Park With Butterfield!!!

There are lots of versions of Walking Thru the Park and this week Joe shared the Muddy Waters version with Paul Butterfield on harp.

Notes from our discussion:
  • This version does have the now "classic" cha cha intro and outro, but it varies from some in that the outro stays on the I chord.
  • Note that the switch from straight eighth to triplet feel happens at bar 10.
  • Joe admires Butterfield's good energy on the tune. His tone does vary depending on whether he's playing split fours (ie tongue blocking) or not (puckering), but he keeps the tune moving along.
  • In addition to learning the intro, which should be in every serious blues harp player's repertoire, note that most of Butterfield's solo is inhaling - testament to the power of hitting the blues scale inhale notes.
Transcription is here.

Joe took the second half of class time to get to a discussion of how to set an amp for playing harp. What should you know?

The main conversation was about the interrelationship between the Volume knob and the Master Volume knob, which many amps, including the tweed Peavey in class will have. With these relative settings, you get the following results:
  • Volume/high; Master/low - this gives you a very distorted, overdriven, fuzzy sound. The sound is compressed and you have virtually no dynamic range - that is, regardless whether you blow loud or softly, it sounds about the same volume coming out of the amp.
  • Volume/half; Master/mid - this will be somewhat distorted and still provide little dynamic range. Beginner to intermediate harp players are likely to find this a "friendly" setting.
  • Volume/low; Master/high - this is the "cleanest" sound you'll get from an amp and will provide the most dynamic range. Play quietly, the amp follows you; play loudly, it peaks with you. This setting is best for players with advanced hand technique.
Note these are just three points on a continuum meant to demonstrate the relationship between the two volume controls. Each amp is different and you have to adjust and experiment to find what you like. Remember too that sometimes when you feel you need more volume to "cut" through the band, you may be able to accomplish your goal with just a little more treble instead.

Mike Caldwell Coming To B1!!!

We have a pretty special guest coming next week to B1 - Mike Caldwell is a terrific country blues harp player from the Nashville area. A student of Charlie McCoy, Mike is also the musical director for Country Tonite. Yes, you read that right, a harp player who is a musical director!

We're looking forward to learning from Mike's visit. Remember, if you're in the Chicagoland area be sure to stop by at 8:00pm on February 3. And for those in class next week, pick up the special four CD Mike Caldwell collection Joe has for sale.

Harmonica Hoedown!!!

The third annual Harmonica Hoedown makes its return to the Hideout on February 16, featuring Joe Filisko, James Conway, Bob Kessler and Yuri Lane. Get your tickets now!

Hank Mowery CD Wins Award!!!

Everybody in the blues world was in Memphis last week for the International Blues Challenge. We're excited to report that B1 friend Hank Mowery from Michigan won the award for best self-produced album of the year for his Gary Primich tribute, Account To Me. Congratulations and well-deserved, Hank!


And speaking of congratulations, here's a huge shout out to our friend Charlie Musselwhite - he and Ben Harper took home a Grammy this week for best blues album of the year!

Class Notes
  • Thanks to all who came out on a cold night last night!

Our friend Jim Lucas shares this video with us. It's not blues, but it has harp on it and it is, um, VERY popular - the video alone shows more than 97 million views!

From Wikipedia: "Timber" features harmonica player Paul Harrington of Rockwall, Texas, who plays through the entire song. He was told to emulate harmonica player Lee Oskar of the band War."

- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew