Blues in Brussels

Last friday night it was blues in Brussels. At the very scenic Thunderbird Cafe
the event "Harmonicas, Blues Harps & Heavy Breathers" (wonder where they got 
that title?) took place. Organized by the Blues Harp Association of Belgium and
especially by Jean-Marc Destrebecq, long time harp player and -teacher.

The evening started of with two promising new harp based bands, Steppin' Out,
with Pol De Wilde on harmonica and Blue Flame with Mario Dragon on harmonica.
Pol De Wilde, who alledgedly gave up drums to become a harmonica player only
one year ago,  amazed the audience with some nice original high note riffs. The
second band was less original and suffered from an out-of-tune singer.

But after these two crowd warmers, the real work started with the band El Fish,
with harp-l's own Steven De Bruyn. Already in their first song they managed to
rock the house and blow all the fuses, so Steven had to play on acoustically and
in the dark. After the electricity came back on, El Fish continued to impress 
the audience not only with good blues (slow & jump) and excellent harmonica 
playing, but also with an extremely energetic performance. Steven wielded both
(blues-) chromatic and diatonic and played them with great mastery and tone.
After their performance the audience did not allow them to leave the stage 
until they had given two encores.

Next on was Thierry Crommen, together with guitarist and singer Francois Mon-
sieur, who, with small means made a great performance of traditional (Robert
Johnson) style blues songs. And although the songs were traditional, the 
harmonica playing was virtuoso and original, mixed with chromatic riffs and 

After this Belgians Bluesharp hero and Chicago style-expert "Lazy Lew" Beckers
had the stage. He played impressive renditions of famous Chicago songs and a
host of self written songs. His laid back style and confident presence on-stage
made clear why his nickname is "Lazy Lew". Lazy Lew also allowed another begin-
ning harmonica player to play, and also played together with Steven De Bruyn
and Thierry Crommen.

But the best was saved for the last, because then Jean-Jacques Milteau (from 
France) was invited to the stage to receive the Blues Harp Award 1995 for his 
harmonica work.
And of course, he had to play after that. His style was more blues than jazz,
or fusion. But nobody cared. With his powerful and well-timed playing he managed
to get the crowd dancing in no time at all.
After some time he was joined on stage by the organizer of the event, Jean-Marc
Destrebecq. This caused some excitement in the crowd, as apparently nobody had
ever seen him perform on stage. Together they managed to produce some great har-
monica jazz.

And that was about the end of the evening. A very good impression of abundance 
of blues-harp talent in Belgium and proof that great harmonica playing is also
available outside the USA.

Bart de Boer.


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