BHF '94 Report

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    Warning! This is a Jack ELy post and it's Looooooong. But HARP-L has been 
    kind of slow the last couple of days anyway.
                     Report on BUCKEYE HARMONICA FESTIVAL '94
    Hello harmonica fans,
    	Well it's over, whew! Lots of work - I almost had all the harmonica 
    socializin', playin', plannin', workin', worryin', phone callin', phone 
    call returnin', stickin-my-neck-out-for-big-bucks'n, etc. that I can take. 
    I said almost. It was a gas and if you missed it - well you missed it, 
    kind of. We plan to have audio & video tapes available RSN (real soon 
    now). We have to work out royalty details before we start dubbing tapes.
    Although BHF is a 2 day festival I got almost a week's worth of harmonica.
    4/5/94- Things started early for me and the SHORT HARP SIG. We flew Eddie 
    Gordon in on Tuesday so he could make a special visit to the Tuesday 
    evening meeting. There were eight of us including a visitor from 
    Connecticut (typically 4 - 6 is a good turn out for the Short Harp SIG). 
    Eddie gave us some pointers on playing the special tunings like "country" 
    and "melody" tuning. Also talked and demonstrated how you can make a song 
    sound better - and maybe fit the harp better by playing in 2nd or 3rd 
    position. (Don't ask me to get technical here). I should have recorded 
    this session because I take lousy notes.
    Question: What can I do when my mouth gets dry when I play.
    Answer: Try a salt water gargle just before you play. Some carry a little 
    atomizer or spray bottle of salt water and use it between songs.
    Other Eddie Gordon topics: (Most of the following was compiled by my 
    E-mail buddy and fellow Short Harper, Jeff Boggs, from Dayton, OH).
    (1) Double stops and other tonguing techniques such as the twiddling 
    	(wagging back and forth) of the tongue.  His use of double stops, 
    	creating two note chords, gave the music character, making it sound 
    	distinctively cajun or dixieland or bluesy.  Also, the double stop 
    	bend fiddle sound was stunning. The latter accomplished by blocking 
    	one hole with the tongue and playing the holes on either side 
    	(sometimes referred to as fifths) -- and then bending the lower of the 
    	two notes - giving the audio illusion that both notes are being bent.
    (2) He demonstrated an embouchure exercise and a diaphragm exercise.
    	Embouchure: Purse your lips out as far as possible (like reaching for 
    	a kiss) and then open your mouth real wide stretching your jaws and 
    	facial muscles, putting all the muscle in it that you can. Repeat 
    	several times. Strengthens and makes your facial muscles supple - 
    	improving your embouchure.
    	Diaphragm: Take a deep breath, let it out. Take another deep breath, 
    	let out a very small amount - and then breath in and out real fast, 
    	panting like a dog except with you lips pursed. Notice how your lower 
    	abdomen, not your chest, moves in and out.
    (3) He pointed out that playing the harp was the same as singing thru the 
    	harp. (meaning you can be as expressive as the human voice - shaping 
    	the sounds and applying vibrato, as vocalists use, on the harmonica).
    (4) He demonstrated circular breathing (which I was not convinced that it 
    	is actually what we think it is -- breathing and blowing at the same 
    (5) He suggested experimenting with mixing reed plates to get various 
    	harps.  (I'm working on this one)  Also, retuning.
    (6) He demonstrated that not playing or the space between phrases of notes 
    	is important in varying the music and once again giving it character.
    (7) He demonstrated the use of the hands with the harp, pointing out that 
    	beginning playing with the hand uncupped and then cupping can be as 
    	effective as beginning cupped and then uncupping.
    4/6/94- Wednesday we had a similar treat except this time for the 
    chromatic fanatics. Eddie gave us pointers on conducting a good 
    (productive) group practice session. Also gave us some ideas on stage 
    presentation. Rather than individual mics (of varying quality) for 12 or 
    more harmonica players, as we now do, he suggests we put 3 on a mic and 
    invest in some good cardioid mics (i.e., Shure SM58) and get some boom mic 
    stands. He encouraged us to continue using our new found ukulele virtuoso, 
    Mack Tooil. He feels the uke and chord harmonica compliment each other and 
    adds a dimension to our sound.
    4/7/94- Thursday was a day of preparation, setting up sound, etc. for the 
    official festival kick off Friday Morning. Thursday evening, local club 
    members enjoyed dinner and an evening of socializing and getting to know 
    our professional entertainers -- "Dinner With the Stars", a BSHC 
    tradition. The evening highlight for me was when Ron Kalina asked me for a 
    lift to a local restaurant (94th Aerosquadron) which is near Port Columbus 
    and is styled after a WW I era French farm house. Ron was invited there to 
    sit in with the Rick Brunetta band for a couple dance sets. Well, to my 
    surprise and delight, the band was a BIG band, 16 pieces plus vocalist, 
    and Ron's harmonica (he's also a studio musician and can cut the charts 
    with the best of them) was an exciting addition - the crowd loved it. 
    Needless to say, I stayed for the show.
    4/8/94- Friday officially opened BHF '94 - The Janis Center doors opened 
    at 9:00 A.M. and the coffee pot was on. Morning hours were spent meeting 
    and greeting and jaming in the large multipurpose hall. Registration and 
    sales tables were staffed and F & R Farrell Co. was doing business, he had 
    a crowd around his 16' table the whole feastival, selling harmonicas and 
    related items like they were going out of style. -- meanwhile, final sound 
    system tweeking and some sound checks were going on in the auditorium 
    through lunch hour. At 1:00 P.M. the BHB (Buckeye Harmonica Band) kicked 
    off the open mic sessions and we had wall to wall harmonica music with 
    many groups participating until dinner time. After dinner was our first 
    evening concert featuring Harmonica Chazz (Charlie Henderson from 
    Richland, SC); the Harmonica Junction Quintet (Al & Judy Smith - Akron, 
    Rudy & Doris Michelin, & Bob Forgione - Detroit) 1989 harmonica champion 
    of Ireland, John Murphy; Mo Vint, Canada, did his one man show with self 
    recorded backup; and the Don Les Harmonicats (Don Les, diatonic, Bud 
    Boblink, chord, Frank Robinson, bass). A great 3 hour and 45 minute show. 
    Afterwords a bunch of entertainers and 'groupies' went to Max & Erma's for 
    burgers and conversation.
    Some interesting points about a couple of the acts: Mo Vint wears an 
    Engineer's suit and rolls out a replica of a steam engine, almost big 
    enough to ride in. The cab containes his various harmonicas, tape machine, 
    mixer and is even rigged with an amp & speakers which he uses on outdoor 
    shows. His act is so popular with resorts, fairs, malls, etc. that he has 
    to turn down work. He travels the USA and Canada year round and says he is 
    busier than he's ever been. He says booking a harmonica act these days is 
    tough so he bills himself as a singer who happens to play harmonica. Mo 
    plays all the harmonica parts on his backup tracks (no pun intended) and 
    does live vocals and harmonica over them. Another act that I really like 
    (I saw them at SPAH in 1993 and decided to see if we could hire them) was 
    originally called the Qwazy Quintet - now known as Harmonica Junction. 
    There was something very nostalgic about seeing five people huddle around 
    one mic - reminiscant of the Borah Minevitch Rascals and later Johnny 
    Puleo's Harmonica Gang playing over one of those old radio mics. Quite a 
    visual effect and a unique sound.
    4/9/94- Saturday morning opened with a panel of professionals fielding 
    questions from the audience - this has been a popular seminar format and 
    we use the auditorium so everyone can attend. The two hour session 
    provided plenty of information on all aspects of harmonica playing and 
    show business and was dotted with humor from the panel. I acted as 
    moderator, repeating questions over the PA and directing them to the 
    proper panel member. Near the end of the session I asked the panel to 
    introduce themselves once more and gave them one more question -- "How 
    were you influenced to start harmonica, what are you doing with it now, 
    and will you share a funny or strange show biz related story". This 
    produced some interesting anecdotes. This seminar will be transcribed from 
    tape and published in monthly installments in the Harmonica Dispatch. I 
    may post the transcripts here later for those who don't receive HD. The 
    afternoon was open mic time again. After dinner was our second concert 
    night with Chazz opening the show again with another selection of solos on 
    the 2'chord harmonica. He was followed by Harmonica-Nection (Bob Williams, 
    Val Bachleda & Gordon Mitchell, all of Detroit); the Hot Shots, Al 
    (formerly from San Jose) and Judy Smith, both now residing in Akron - 
    Their highly polished act with their precision choreography and schtik is 
    always a show stopper; The incomparable Eddie Gordon, Fresno, CA, played 
    diatonic, chord, chromatic, harmonetta and Millioniser (harmonica 
    synthesizer) all with astonishing virtuosity. Our MC, Sandy German, 
    Cincinnati, joined Eddie along with Bud Boblink for some impromptu 
    numbers. Few would want to follow that act but our headliner for Saturday, 
    Ron Kalina, Los Angeles, CA, was up to the challenge with his mastery of 
    harmonica and keyboards. Sometimes playing harmonica and keyboard 
    simultaneously - other times showing us more state-of-the-art 
    entertainment by using programmed effects on midi keyboards. He also uses 
    the fairly new Yamaha QY20 very effectively. (The QY20 is an orchestra in 
    a box about the size of a VHS video tape, very powerful. The show ran 1 
    hr. 15 min. over the scheduled 3 hr. time but no one seemed to mind. After 
    the show a large group again went to Max & Erma's to wind down.
    + Jack N. Ely, Operations Mgr.    Internet: SYS_ELY@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx +
    + Ohio Department of Education              ely.j@xxxxxxxxxxxxx          +
    + Information Management Services   BITNET: N/A                          +
    + 2151 Carmack Road                   UUCP: mecsys!ely                   +
    + Columbus, Ohio 43221           Voice: (614)466-7000 FAX: (614)466-0022 +
    +                                                  ________________      +
    +"Have harmonica, will travel."                  [|OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO|]=<] +
    +  Wire Cat Daddy, Columbus                      /_________________/     +
    +                                            Buckeye State Harmonica Club+
    +"If Music is the international language,           Columbus, Ohio       +
    + then why not the harmonica to speak it?"                               +

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