Re: Honking patrons

Tim Moody writes:
>...really enforces those negative stereotypes of the harp. You know the
>ones..........a harp isn't really an instrument, harp players aren't
>musicians, etc.. .

Yeah, we all(harp players) have to put up with the impression left upon
other musicians by the so called musician that spent $10 for a harp(or
better yet, found it in a dumpster) and now he wants to jam.

>...I was told not to "overplay"(due to other having apperently done this). My
>>response of course was,(politely) "Make sure you tell everyone else that
>guy fronting that particular song(guitarist or vocalist) says something to
>the effect of, "Ok let do a shuffle in G. That's a C harp to you." Or ,"Let
>do a Boogie in A, you use a D harp." The last time that one happened I
>thanked the guy and shook his hand, then told him, "Which one of these mics
>should I use?(I held up a Green Bullet and a JT-30). It kinda pissed him off
>a little, but he got my point.

I used to get annoyed by those kind of comments myself but now I apply the
"smile & wave" concept and let my harp speak for me. The truth of it is,
other musicians don't care what we say(verbally), we'll still always have
to prove ourselves as "musicians" - not just as harp players. There's too
much history that precedes us in every jam situation and letting the harp
speak is the only way to get due respect. Of course, that means letting it
speak the right stuff at the right time. Flash and technique are useless if
the notes aren't in the pocket. This means setting the ego aside, or at
least, putting a damper on it. There's enough ego and testosterone in a jam
situation, adding more doesn't help. Besides, unless we're playing by
ourself, music is a team situation. Nobody wins unless everybody wins. And
the overall sound will suffer.

I was at a jam recently and the guy that played harp before me had an
exquisite rig: a spotless, scratch-free, show room floor new 1956
Bassman(not a reissue) and an early 30's Shure bullet(you had to see it to
believe it, he had no idea what he had). Unfortunately when he bought that
gear, he failed to also invest in a clue. He was playing in 'E' on an 'E'
harp, etc., and the band (justifiably) wasn't letting him take solos. He
was messing up the music.

Another way in which the stereotype effects me is the "oh, you want to jam
and you play harp? well, we'll do some blues" response. Blues are cool but
there is a myriad of cool music other than the blues in which the harmonica
can be applied(and ya don't have to be Howard Levy). The problem is that
too many harp players latch on to the sound of some particular blues
harmonica legend, learn how to emulate that style, and stop there. And
other musicians have seen it too often where if they don't do a slow blues
or a shuffle the harp players gonna glitch the song. I recently was in a
situation where I'd been invited to sit in and after doing a couple of
blues type things the bass player said "let's do Little Wing". The guitar
player asked me if I knew the song and I said " I've never played it but I
have heard it". It was a blast. Notes had to be selectively chosen but the
harp worked. There were a lot more wrong note possibilities than in the
blues but it was fun and worked out just fine, thank you.

On the which harp thing, I just politely ask that I just be told which key
they're in because I may want to use a different harp and it would cut down
on the confusion. See comment above regarding ego and testosterone.

Ricky B.

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