Re: how Does Popper play?

>Joh Winderbaum asks about John Popper's embouchure <snip>
>Gary Warren thinks he's a blocker. 

>Winslow writes:  I don't remember if I've ever
>asked him, but I get the distinct impression that he plays with a
>pucker. Of course he blocks for octaves, and uses a lot of
>tongue-split chords comping behind guitar solos. Whatever he
>uses, I don't think his embouchure will unlock any secrets about
>his speed or note choices.

Based on Winslow's comments I was pressed into action and reviewed my tape
of Blues Traveler's performance on House of Blues that I'd video taped.  It
has some great shots up close of John's playing.  Based on watching it
again, I'll have to reverse myself and say that I think Winslow is correct,
it appears that he's a puckererererer.  Of course I can't see what's going
on inside his mouth, but there were times when he was definitely moving the
harp significantly. (But not *ONLY* a puckerer.)

I'd seen him a couple of times live but not very close and like JJThaden,
thought the lack of movement would indicate that he was probably a blocker.
But now I think it is because of the man's girth that it only *appears* that
he's not moving the harp much.  The close up's show him usually moving the
harp as with a pucker embouchure.  I've watched it a couple of times and I'm
convinced that he uses blocking some of the time as well.  (Since Sugar Blue
is one of Popper's "hero's" and Sugar uses tongue blocking, I also figured
the Sorcerer's Apprentice would follow.  Though, I don't know if they have
ever played together.)  

But most of all, I'd have to agree that his speed and note choices are
driven by areas well beyond embouchure.  Areas like study of music beyond
the harp, types of music beyond the blues, and challenging himself to
attempt things on the harp that were previously done only on other
instruments (or at least not typically done on harp).

Now please don't get me wrong, I'm not a Popper fan in the sense that I
think that he's by any means "THE MAN".  But I'll recognize that he's done
for harmonica popularity very similarly what the Blues Brothers did for
revitalizing the popularity of the blues.  Personally, I'd rather listen to
Piazza, Clarke, Primich, Sugar Blue (sometimes), the Walters, SBII, George
S., Junior, Butterfield, Magic D., etc. for that old feel and nasty tone.
But I'm very interested in watching and listening to where this relatively
young man takes this instrument.

There's room for it all...Howard Levy's stuff is amazing, but into a totally
different vein.  I'd also suggest a listen to Turk's Harmonica Salad, it is
tasty.  Winslow, when you talk to John Popper, please ask him for the rest
of us curious folks...just how **DO** you do that stuff?

Gary "Indiana" Warren

"I take my woman on the beach, fellas, and set down in the sand and play."
                               Muddy Waters  "Deep Down In Florida"

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