Re: Confessions of a Gusser
- Subject: Re: Confessions of a Gusser
- From: "ChipComcast" <jandkday@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2003 17:14:09 -0400
If you did that in the "Old Master's" day you might wind up head first in a
I guess the hippies changed all that. IMHO.
- ----- Original Message -----
From: "Michelle LeFree" <mlefree@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Wednesday, September 24, 2003 1:02 PM
Subject: RE: Confessions of a Gusser
> I suspected that relating my apparently uniquely positive experience of
> playing quietly in the corner while my harmonica teacher gigged would draw
> some vitriol from this group. However, y'all should know that I've
> a number of off-list comments which didn't coincide with the public
> "lynching" some have seemed to want to subject me to. I have come to
> that there is an effort on the part of some in this group to maintain a
> certain "appearance". I'm here to learn and share what I've learned about
> all aspects of owning and playing harmonicas, period. I have no other
> agendas. What you read is what you get with me.
> The reason I posted my "Confession" was to show that, contrary to popular
> opinion in a supportive environment, the experience of playing quietly in
> the corner of a gig where the performer willingly encourages this activity
> can be a terrific learning experience. That is exactly what I was
> doing--learning, not attempting to grab some of Harry's well-deserved
> "limelight". In an unexpected way, my playing quietly in the corner of
> room behind Harry's amp and PA evoked a curiosity on the part of the
> audience that lead ~them~ to want to find out more about this lady harp
> player hiding quietly in the corner. Please recall that was ~they~ who
> to sit by me to hear me better. That lead to a number of audience members
> routinely asking ~me~ to sit by ~them~, since there isn't much room in the
> back corner of the typical small venue we have around here.
> There's one thing that you may not know or understand about the people
> living in remote sections of the West. It's still a hard life for most
> of us. Many have lived here for generations that take them back to the
> not too long ago when it was extraordinarily difficult to impossible to
> carve out a living here. This has spawned a universally supportive
> on the parts of the folks who live here. They actually band together to
> support each other! That's one of the great things about living here. I
> guess this was their way of supporting my efforts to learn from a great
> well-loved musician. I wouldn't expect that to happen in Denver. Or
> Chicago, etc. I can see from the more vocal members of this list that
> kind of supportive attitude may not exist on harp-l, either. Why is that?
> With the wide-spread recognition of the difficulties blues players in
> general and blues harp players specifically face in today's MTV world it
> seems like we would do well to support each other any way we can rather
> look for opportunities to tear each other down. Or maybe I'm wrong...
> In any event, I gained the kind of experience that could only be had
> many years of trying to make inroads into the live music business. Where
> live, this would be far more difficult, if possible at all, than if I
> in a big city with many venues and a strong community of blues musicians.
> There just ain't many blues players where I live. A virtuoso harmonica
> player was a totally unexpected find on my part. I am forever grateful to
> Harry Harpoon for allowing me this golden opportunity. He's clearly not
> threatened by a student who tries to emulate his every move and lick in an
> attempt to learn how to be a small fraction of the harp player he is. In
> fact, if anything, his supportiveness and generosity towards my
> "apprenticeship" endeared him even more to his strong following in these
> Now on to some of the comments from the latest digest:
> The Iceman wrote about "Introverted Gussing"
> > In my formative years, I was an Introverted Gusser.
> > At a show, like a Siegal-Schwall concert, I would pull out the correct
> > harmonica and play along with the band. However, as an Introverted
> I never
> > tried to be heard. I would play quiet enough so as not to interfere with
> > enjoyment of those around me, oftentimes with one finger in my ear to
> > hear myself. I would never push to the front of the crowd to play up at
> the band.
> > My purpose was in learning - not to draw attention to myself.
> > The Iceman
> Good term for it, Larry--"Introverted Gussing". As I said at the outset,
> main concern was interfering with the enjoyment of the audience.
> Apparently, in this unusual environment, audiences here appreciated and
> supported what I was trying to do. I have attested to the value of
> Introverted Gussing, and I suspect you can, too, Larry. You certainly are
> one of the great players on this list.
> And, M. N. commented:
> > Michelle wrote:
> > "Seems like its a bit different if the performer grants you permission
> > of time... As I said in my 'confession', Harry encouraged my 'Gussing'.
> > Neither he nor anyone else ever voiced a complaint or gave me a crooked
> > look."
> > ==============================
> > Perhaps not. Not that you know of anyway.
> > I am a nice guy, often times too nice. If I were a member of the
> > when someone was gussing the band, I'd probably not have the nerve to
> > over and tell them to stick it. That does not mean, however, that that
> > person didn't ruin the evening for me (and likely for others as well).
> M.N., it appears that you are conjecturing here. I am relating what
> actually happened to me, over a period of a year or so, at ~dozens~ of
> Harry's gigs.
> > I don't want to offend you, Michelle. I enjoy your enthusiasm and read
> > of your posts with interest.
> Thanks for noticing, M.N. And, for the record, I'm not offended. I just
> think you don't understand the circumstances surrounding my experience.
> > And maybe you indeed have that very very rare
> > situation where gussing is sanctioned and accepted by everyone there.
> > every club or bar I've ever been in, it's just rude -- rude as hell --
> > the other folks who are trying to enjoy the show.
> M.N., I thought from your previous comment that you hadn't been subjected
> Gussing as an audience member or a performer. Now you seem to expound on
> some actual experience with it. Why not wait until it actually happens to
> you before condemning me? Is it possible that it is you who are wrong and
> not me? After all, I don't recall meeting you at one of Harry's gigs. Or
> perhaps you are one of the "appearance maintainers" I mentioned...
> fmeek added his comments:
> > Subject: Re: Introverted Gussing
> > Ear of the beholder, I suppose.
> > I was recently at a large and well-known harmonica event which
> > hosted several nights of harmonica music. A gentleman in the
> > audience repeatedly pulled out his chromatic to figure out the
> > key of songs being played. He was attempting to play very
> > quietly, I guess, but he was still heard several feet away, even
> > over the amplified sound. I'm a pretty easy going guy, but I
> > kept getting distracted from the musical event by this man's note
> > sampling and I kept hoping that he would stop. His enjoyment of
> > the event might have been increased but mine was decreased
> > (others' too, based on the glances being shot at him).
> Then you would have been doing everyone, including the Gusser, a favor by
> gently suggesting to him that his activity was bothering you. Since you
> were but a few feet away, I assume you were within his earshot.
> > It seems that out-of-place notes travel over air much better than
> > correct ones.
> Agreed. Is it ~possible~ that ~my~ notes ~weren't~ out of place?
> > Perhaps a good rule-of-thumb would be "when in doubt, lay out--
> > or at least step out of audible range for others who might not
> > enjoy your activity".
> Well put. And I agree completely. That's why I didn't Gus during Mojo
> Red's fine performance.
> > Having said that, I describe myself as an out-of-earshot gusser.
> > I step away and really smother the harp in my hands to keep the
> > sound to myself and not attract notice. I hope I'm accurate in
> > my assessment.
> > Regards,
> > Frank
> I wonder how many of us, if we were perfectly honest and forthright, would
> echo the experience of Frank and the Iceman--on-list?
> Finally, Scorcher can always be counted upon to voice his experience and
> > Michelle,
> > FWIW, I think some here have been too harsh in their criticism.
> Thanks, Scorcher!
> > Your story was clearly about a different "time & place" than most of
> > your critics cited, and you did say you had permission, consent,
> > cooperation AND your own following - not just once, but apparently
> > time & time again.
> > It would be interesting to hear if you encourage this kind of thing
> > when you have your OWN gig.
> I tell you what, Scorch. If and when I am fortunate enough to have a
> student who is as enthusastic and respectful towards me, my instrument,
> my playing as I am about Harry's, I'd consider it an honor to help them in
> any way I could. This is even more true since I have found out what
> brand of generosity and supportiveness have done for me as a musician.
> Maybe there would be more accomplished harp players out there if we all
> Harry's attitude...
> Thanks for all the input, folks--I've learned some things from this
> And, so far no one has called it "Michelling", at least on-list!
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