Big Walter's Customized Harp


I recently obtained a 2-DVD set of "The American
Folk Blues Festival 1962-1966" and all I can say is
WoW! It is a collection of performances during the
venerable European blues festival that inspired so
many of the early British blues bands. I have an
old vinyl LP from a 1963 performance that is
crackly and well-worn.

Anyway, many of our finest blues men (and women)
were recorded on video tape (in Germany, I think)
and the footage has recently become available on
DVD. (You can search Amazon and find it). T-Bone
Walker, Howlin' Wolf, Junior Wells, Sonny Boy
Williamson II, Memphis Slim, Mississippi Fred
McDowell, Lonnie Johnson, Willie Dixon, Muddy
Waters... a really remarkable and rare collection.
(Sorry, no Little Walter on these two disks).

It is a ~deep~ pleasure to actually see so many of
my lifetime blues heroes perform "live". 

Anyway, Walter Horton was featured playing his
great harp intrumental "Shakey?s Blues" (recorded
elswhere as "Walter's Boogie"). At one point the
camera comes in very close and he opens up his cup
to play on the high end of the harp... and it was
obvious that he (or someone) had opened up the back
of his harp the same way customizers do today. 

Now, I have no idea how extensively Big Walter
tweaked his harps, but there was no mistaking the
opened up cover plates on that Marine Band. Made me
very curious to learn if anyone has any further
knowledge about Horton's customized harps.

Harpin' in Colorado,
- --Ken M.

P.S. Sonny Boy Williamson's performance of "Nine
Below Zero" is nothing short of magnificent! What a
treat! Still haven't sat down with Volume II yet,
but very much looking forward to it.

"When you speak of Walter Horton, the first thing you think of is his tone, that big, fat tone."
- ---Li'l Ronnie Owens

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