Tuesday, September 24, 2019

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 581 #627)

Dov Hammer!
It was great to have Dov Hammer in B1 last night! In town from Israel where he lives and gigs, Dov played a lot of killer blues and talked about his influences and the Israeli blues scene.

When young, he of course wanted to play guitar but all his friends played guitar so in order to find a place in bands, he picked up the bass. When drafted he missed making music and found his way to the harp because it is small, portable and it appeared on Muddy Waters records.

He had no instructor so the records were his teacher and he started as a pucker player. Now he's learned the importance of tongue-blocking but admits there are things like blow bends he reverts to puckering for.

Being in Israel meant less access to the pros but some did come through and Paul DeLay was one he talked a lot about as being a big influence on him. Hearing Paul play helped Dov think out of the box.

Here are a few choice comments:

"You gotta be careful writing blues songs so you don't sound like you're imitating anyone." In his own tunes, Dov tries not to do standard 12-bar shuffles and not to imitate others' phrases too carefully.

He admitted to not being a big gear head. "I like the gear working for me, not to be working for the gear." Lately he finds himself preferring the vocal mic and sometimes running an SM57 straight into the board to be heard and in all the speakers.

He loves one-chord tunes (and played a great example for us) because blues is a feel- and groove-based music.

How does he approach solos? With a lot of rhythm, first off. He also thinks of them as an extension of the vocals. Look at how people speak - with pauses, breaks and space. He likes to phrase that way when soloing too. Also, keep it short and to the point. Need an example? Notice that is exactly what all the Little Walter solos are - short and killer!

Here's a key message that ties in to the breathing work Joe's been working with us on lately. Dov tells his students that "it's not supposed to be hard; you should be breathing easily through the instrument. If you're blowing hard, you're doing it wrong."

If you missed Dov, don't let it happen again! And head over to his website to pick up a copy of his new release, BlueSoul. Thanks Dov, and thanks to David Kachalon for making this happen.

Class Notes

  • See you next Tuesday, Oct 1 at the Harlem Harp Party (8pm)!
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew

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