Tuesday, March 19, 2019

What Did You Miss This Week? (Wee 561 #607)

Nine.

Joe timed peoples' exhale capability last week and observes that just about everyone can exhale for at least nine seconds. This means, we should all be equally capable of nine seconds of inhale...which is where blues horsepower resides. Nine seconds will get you through two bars of modest tempo tunes and you should be able to play phrases that long with strength, not wimping out and trailing off at the end. You should not be FULL of air and desperate at the end of a two-bar phrase. So if you are, you're not


  • efficiently dumping air, or...
  • you're not efficiently using the air you have because you're allowing air to come in through your nose, or
  • you're breathing in some even before you start your phrase. 

Probably all three! So practice breathe control; do some long inhale/exhale exercises to find your bottom and become more controlled in the flow of air. Play Taps and stretch the hold notes out as long as you can.

You need to be proactively working on and thinking about your breathing. Joe suggests this is analagous to a chess player needing to think ahead. Your playing needs this too.

Class Notes

  • Thanks to all who've registered for this session!

Mike Ledbetter Tribute Shows
The Nick Moss Band is organizing two benefit shows in Chicagoland for Mike Ledbetter. Mark your calendars and don't miss them - they promise to have some heavy-hitter harp players on them (ahem, Rick Estrin, Jason Ricci)

April 14 at Buddy Guy's Legends
April 15 Danny's On Douglas, Elgin

- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 560 #606)

Breathing

Joe took time out from the call and response we've been doing to work on a problem he's seeing in players as they do this exercise - breath control.

You won't have that blues horsepower without having control of your breathing. Long, swooping blues phrases need to be legato and connected and can't end in a fizzle because you've run out of air. Deep, resonant tone on your chordal effects playing can't be pinched off and cut short because you don't have breath to carry them. And yes, second position blues playing, the core of what we do, is inhale playing, so you have to learn to start truly empty...and chances are very high you are not.

To prove it and help us connect better to full and empty, Joe timed us on a long exhale note. His reasoning is, most everyone could exhale for at least 8 seconds. And that's enough to do the inhale required for the two bar call and response work we've been doing. BUT you have to start empty.

Learn to find empty and be more comfortable there!

Class Notes

  • Thanks to all who've registered for this session!

Buddy Guy Is Keeping the Blues Alive

He's not a harp player, but he's a blues elder and this is a great dive into one of the last remaining greats. Thanks to Leo for tipping us off to this story.

Buddy Guy Is Keeping the Blues Alive, The New Yorker Magazine

- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 559 #605)

Welcome to the new session at Old Town. Joe shared his BHP (Blues Horsepower) handout this week that ties to the call and response exercises we've been doing together. As he listens to players, he wants to emphasize that people need to focus on better throat tremolo across the board.

Joe also repeated that the deep bend on the four draw is in fact a slightly sharp version of the note you get on the four blow. It is extremely flat and gets close to that note so if you're watching your bend with a digital tool, you'll see it approaching the four blow.

Class Notes

  • New classes started this week. There's still time to register! And here's a discount code to save $15: LOVEOTS19
  • James Conway will be a special guest teaching Irish tunes in the Rhythm & Chording class Monday, March 11 at 2:30pm.

SPAH Registration Now Open
Registration is now open for the 2019 SPAH Convention to be held at the Tulsa Hyatt Regency in Tulsa, Oklahoma from August 13-17, 2019.

You can expect to enjoy all of your favorite events, including world class nightly performances, daily seminars, afternoon concerts, the Filisko Teach-in, and an exciting array of vendors demonstrating and selling harmonicas and other related products! The electric Blues Jam will be back again on Wednesday night, and there will be nightly acoustic jams for your favorite music genre! That should leave you a little time to sleep, if you are not playing music in the hallways with your old and new-found friends!

Details on the local tours, Saturday breakfast gatherings, and the like will be made available in May, as usual. For those of you who have not attended or have missed a few years, you can read more about a typical SPAH Convention experience here.

The Entertainment Committee has been working hard to bring you a diverse group of performers, from jazz and blues to Celtic, from diatonic and chromatic to harmonica trios!

Register now for the best price, and remember that current members receive a discount on the convention price!

- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 558 #604)

Call and response moved to a box shuffle this week to help everyone find the downbeat of one better. Remember that mimicking Joe involves notes, tone, and technique but also timing.

Joe also announced that B1 will now have two amps with bullet mics every week. This is designed partly to make RickEy happy (he was not fond of the existing amp!) but also to allow for two harp players playing amplified. You should have an accompaniment and soloist plan when you play.
Class Notes

  • New classes start next week. Register now! And here's a discount code to save $15: LOVEOTS19
  • Thanks to everyone who came out to the Hoedown - it was a great show and Harmonicology has a lot to be proud of!
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 557 #603)

The Performance Class took a week off from call and response practice, but Joe did a recap:

  • This exercise highlights technique weaknesses.
  • It also makes clear any blues breathing weaknesses you may have. (Everybody struggles with this!)
  • And Joe announced there is a guidelines handout page coming soon!


Class Notes

  • TONIGHT: Harmonica Hoedown featuring Joe Filisko's Harmonicology, James Conway, Bob Kessler, Graham Nelson. Tuesday, February 19. Tickets.
  • Time to register for classes and here's a discount code to save $15: LOVEOTS19
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 556 #602)

B1 was rockin' with a lot of Walter Horton this week - versions of Walter's Boogie/Shakey's Boogie were on tap for a bunch of people and we also heard Honeydripper. We love us some Horton!

Class Notes

  • The Harlem Avenue Lounge Harp Party is TONIGHT! See you there for your chance onstage plus a full set from Joe's Harmonicology group who are prepping for next week's....
  • ...Harmonica Hoedown featuring Joe Filisko's Harmonicology, James Conway, Bob Kessler, Graham Nelson. Tuesday, February 19. Tickets.
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 555 #601)

Julie's performance of Who's Been Talking took us to a short conversation about how that song does (or does not) fit into the blues. It is minor. On the other hand, it's a rumba, not a shuffle. No firm conclusion reached, but it was a good discussion.

Related, pop quiz! How many recorded Muddy Waters tunes are there that are minor blues?

(Heads up: we don't have the answer - it's meant to make you think.)

Class Notes

  • The Harlem Avenue Lounge Harp Party is Tuesday, February 12. 
  • Get your tickets NOW to the next Harmonica Hoedown featuring Joe Filisko's Harmonicology, James Conway, Bob Kessler, Graham Nelson. Tuesday, February 19. Tickets.
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 554 #600)

Call and response learning continues and those who braved the cold got extra playing time last night. Stay warm, Chicago!

Class Notes

  • The next Harlem Avenue Lounge Harp Party is Tuesday, February 12. 
  • Get your tickets NOW to the next Harmonica Hoedown featuring Joe Filisko's Harmonicology, James Conway, Bob Kessler, Graham Nelson. Tuesday, February 19. Tickets.
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 553 #599)

Joe worked with the class again on the practice of hearing him play a phrase and repeating it after him. He played in a rack this week to clear away any idea that tonal things you're hearing are coming from his one hand.

That said, we also segued to a hand-mic technique discussion and the light bulb went off for some. We'll be hearing better tone in class soon!

Class Notes

  • Mark your calendar - the next Harlem Avenue Lounge Harp Party is Tuesday, February 12. 
  • Get your tickets NOW to the next Harmonica Hoedown featuring Joe Filisko's Harmonicology, James Conway, Bob Kessler, Graham Nelson. Tuesday, February 19. Tickets.


- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 552 #598)

Fun class this week with Rie "Lee" Kanehira in from Japan playing keys with us. Always great to have you join us, Lee!

And cool to see Patrick drop in and play too. Remember, B1 LOVES guests, so come by anytime.

Class Notes

  • No news - practice, grasshopper!
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 551 #597)

Happy New Year!

Thinking about a Liban tune people in B1 have been doing lately Joe pointed out it is basically James Cotton in action. And Cotton's playing is pure blues scale and sound.

To get people focused on blues scale and the heavy sounds blues harp players want to be playing, Joe kicked off the year with some live "rapid recall" exercises. He played a phrase repeatedly then went around the room letting each person duplicate what they heard.  A key learning is that better breathing is your foundation and folks coming up short on the phrase repetition were usually suffering breathing trouble. Joe also stressed the importance of avoiding the unbent three draw.

Watch for more of this live rapid recall in all classes in the coming weeks.

Class Notes

  • Register now! There's still time (and room) to get registered for this session at Old Town. 
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew