Performance Notes, Chicago's, Toronto, Nov. 7 2003

Hi all,

I played at the "Harmonica Knights" gig organized by Toronto's Mark Bird
Stafford, and also featuring Toronto harp player/organist Tortoise Blue,
on Friday, Nov. 7.  

This was the second gig at which I used my Digitech RP200 as the main
"amp" setup.  In this case, I ran the RP200 straight to the PA board,
without even a DI box between the RP200 and the board.  Almost to my
surprise, it worked great.  It was plenty loud and had plenty of tone. A
few of my signature RP200 patches -- like "Kong," which combines an
octave doubler with a hot "boutique" amp model -- were tremendously
well-liked by both the band and the other harp players.  I used that
patch with a dorian-tuned harmonica in first position to play the rhythm
and lead for "Tequila", and it was a huge chorded sound.  (I've always
wanted to be able to push the people in the front row back with a big
chord, the way quitarists with Marshall stacks can.  I'm getting
closer.)   On a funky blues, I played a simple triple-tongued rhythm
through an envelope filter patch (the same one that's laid out in detail
on my website at  About four
bars into that rhythm line, the audience started applauding; the sound
was just so fresh and funky.  Better living through electronics!

The mic I used on this gig was the Labtec AM-22.  This mic sounds great
with the RP200, but I ran it into Mark Bird Stafford's hot-rodded
Bassman RI amp, and it sounded just awful: no volume, no body in the
tone, no nothin'.  I've had similar results with other tube amps, though
the Labtec seems to work very well with my Crate VC508.  Anyway, it was
very nice to have the opportunity to compare my setup with Stafford's
(Astatic JT-30 into Bassman RI via Premiere reverb box) and Tortoise's
(Green bullet into ???).  At the end of the night, Stafford, Tortoise,
and I traded licks and mics on an extended uptempo blues.  Both Mark and
Tortoise loved the huge bottom end through the RP200 "Kong"
This was a very enjoyable gig in lots of ways.  Mark's style is very
Little Walter-influenced; the big climaxes in his solos tend to involve
long notes with big, fat tone behind them.  Tortoise's style is much
more James Cotton-influenced, very active, lots of rhythmic motion at
the big climaxes.  My style on this gig was more linear and jazzy; the
big climaxes tended to involve long lines leading up to, or immediately
following, single notes with lots of tone.  Between our different sounds
and different approaches, the audience got plenty of harp variety.   

I'm looking forward to my next trip to Toronto.  In the meantime, I'm
delighted to have a single-box rig about the size and weight of a
hardcover book that can be packed with my shirts and socks in a suitcase
for travel.  I'll be using that setup when I play Antwerp on Dec. 12 and
Paris on Dec. 13.  Stay tuned for details on those gigs.

regards, Richard Hunter

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