Re: A Bit of History
Glad to hear of your interest, and that you enjoyed the photos. If you
haven't checked out Kim Fields' book, "Harmonicas, Harps and Heavy
Breathers", that is an excellent place to start, as it describes many of
the early players in the group settings.
Also you might wish to take tour of the website that includes the photos
mentioned - it is the late Bill Walden's site at:
Lots of photos and history there.
As far as getting together - for one thing it was before TV, rock and
roll, and all the distractions we have today. Many players got together
on the streets of New York and other eastern cities, and of course the
orchestral instruments - chord, bass, polyphonias, etc - were readily
available in those times. There was little or no "legitimate"
instruction in these instruments - experimentation, ideas passed on
between players, etc - was their education. To this day, there is very
little formal instruction, and most players learn from each other. I
myself did not play harmonica at all until I started playing the bass at
age 35, being prodded by a fellow player who knew I was a musician,
trained in classical violin and voice, both of which I also taught. I
still play only the bass. I was fortunate, as I could always "hear"
bass, though I sung tenor in choral groups and barbershop quartets, so I
picked up the bass harmonica rather quickly. (Seven years later I was
with the Jerry Murad Harmonicats.) http://www.bassharp.com/bassharp.htm
Hope this is a help to you, Howard.
Howard Chandler wrote:
> Someone remarked in another thread how this list is dominated by
> diatonic players. Well, as a diatonic player, I want to say how much I
> appreciate hearing and seeing stuff about the chromatic and orchestra
> type stuff. I play the diatonic because this was the kind of music that
> I listened to growing up in the 50's and 60's. That's what was popular.
> I have always loved hearing the stuff that groups like the Harmonica
> Rascals were doing before the war, but about the only place that one
> heard this stuff was if you watched old movies on the late late show.
> Where can I learn more about these groups. How did these players hook
> up and how did they get into playing their various instruments. I mean,
> it's one thing for a guy with a chrom or a diatonic to be a solo
> performer (even if it's in your bedroom), but it would seem to me that
> the chord and bass harmonicas really needed to be part of an ensemble.
> Were there conservatories and such for learning to play in groups like
> this? I'm really fascinated and would love to learn more about this
> kind of stuff.
> Thanks for posting the pictures.
> Howard Chandler
> BassHarp wrote:
>> On Sunday past, the Dave McKelvy Trio once again was privileged to
>> play for the Society of Singers organization 13th Annual Picnic in
>> Sherman Oaks, CA. Always an interesting event, but this time one of
>> the attendees was actress Jane Withers. She may also be remembered as
>> Josephine the Plumber in TV ads for Comet Cleanser for 21 years.
>> Harmonica content? Here it comes!
>> Twelve-year-old Jane, in the role of "Gypsy", is the star of 1938
>> film, "Rascals", which also starred the Borrah Minevitch Harmonica
>> Rascals. This film gave the Rascals more time on screen than any other
>> film they appeared in - they played almost throughout the entire film,
>> and were themselves actors throughout. Jane even had a stint on bass
>> harmonica that looked quite authentic, though of course someone else
>> was playing off camera for her. Minevitch Rascals personnel are:
>> Borrah Minevitch, Abe Diamond, Leo Diamond, Harry Feinberg, Louis
>> "Fuzzy" Feldman, Al Furbish, Harry Hier, Ernie Morris, Alex Novelle,
>> and of course Johnny Puleo. Of those, only Harry Feinberg of New
>> Jersey is still alive. When I spoke to Miss Withers, I told her Harry
>> was the only one remaining, and she was sorry to hear that.
>> This evening, Lorraine and I sat down and watched the film once more,
>> as she also was able to meet and talk with Miss Withers. A great film,
>> with lots of harmonica throughout.
>> Photos from the film at: http://www.bassharp.com/montage.htm
Danny Wilson - Santa Clarita, CA
Dave McKelvy Trio: http://www.bassharp.com/mckelvy.htm
Ace of Harps: http://www.bassharp.com/ace.htm
Harmonica Trio Concepts: http://www.bassharp.com/bh_trio.htm
Harpers Giglist: http://www.bassharp.com/bh_itin.htm
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