[Harp-L] Buckeye

I returned from the Buckeye Harmonica Festival Sunday, and finally have
time to send this post.  What a great experience this year's Buckeye
was, in large part due to the efforts of Jimi Lee, who, as he aptly
stated it, wanted to "bridge the gap" between the diatonic and chromatic
players.  During my attendance at past Buckeyes and SPAH, it was always
a bit disheartening to witness the two separate festivals that seemed to
take place simultaneously.  The diatonic guys and the chromatic guys
seldom interacted, and almost seemed somewhat hostile toward each other.


I had not met Jimi Lee, or even experienced his music, until this year's
Buckeye.  He is a very talented, knowledgeable, personable and humble
ambassador of the harmonica.  From our first dinner conversations on
Thursday night where he treated us to one humorous story after another
and described with gusto his plans to retune harmonicas to change the
key of the top register of the diatonic to have two harmonicas in one
(he often plays with a rack and can't change harps on the fly), it
became clear that it would be a fun festival.   Because there were not
that many diatonic players present, the seminars and jams became
excellent opportunities to play and interact more regularly and actually
learn and improve. 


Gap bridging was fully achieved in the Saturday night show.  Jimi Lee,
playing guitar, singing and playing harp with a rack, started his
closing set with two of his beautiful originals "Ease Your Mind" and
"Where are Tonight".  He then invited up the great chromatic player Jim
Lohman for a couple of numbers including a rousing "Is You Is or Is You
Ain't My Baby".  Next he invited up chromatic player extraordinaire Phil
Caltabellotta and chord harmonica wiz Shelley Lulov for a couple of
numbers including "Don't Get Around Much Anymore".  Following that, he
asked PT Gazelle to grace the stage with some of PT's 'chromaticity' on
the diatonic, joining Jimi on "Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You".  The show
was just tremendous, and had everyone hanging around to the end.  Heck,
even the blues jam that followed was attended by some great chrom
players, honking out some blues, with a nice jazzy edge.   


If you haven't heard much of Jim Lee, check out his website at
www.JimiLeeBand.com <http://www.jimileeband.com/> .  He's a great guy,
making great music, and a helluva harp player.


Tom McGovern

Richmond, MI 



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