[Harp-L] Bridging the Gap -- music tastes

Doug Tate was one of the most interesting people I've ever met at the SPAH 
conventions. I have been attending SPAH conventions since about 1989 -- back 
when they were at the Detroit Metro Airport and I'd drive out during the day and 
leave to go to work at night. 
It always seemed that as I walked around the SPAH convention(s) the only 
person who never questioned my interest in diatonic harmonicas was Dick Ferrell 
who would talk endlessly about harmonicas. And then sell me a few. But over the 
years, I also bought lots of chromatics (Herings in most keys) and Hohners and 
So when Doug Tate came along, I was really shocked to hear him discuss 
diatonic harmonicas and players and not treat the instrument or players as part of 
the great unwashed barbarians. Doug was the first chromatic player who embraced 
all harmonica players and didn't think the only harmonica worth listening to 
came from a harmonica band.
Doug had the ability to appreciate the music and skill coming from the new 
age diatonic players like Richard Hunter or Howard Levy as well as the blues 
guys -- and he watched them perform -- with interest. Which is more than most of 
chrome players did.
Doug was a masterful player of classical music on the chromatic even before 
he and Bobbie Giordano came up with the Renaissance harmonica.
Doug also never seemed to be too concerned with the (allegedly) average 
chromatic harmonica player who constantly insisted that the chromatic was the 
superior instrument even though he (it was usually a he) couldn't read a lick of 
music or play in any key but C.
Rock 'n' roll. There is a lot to be said about the cultural gap. When SPAH 
was formed out of the desperate home to keep the harmonica alive in 1962 -- the 
biggest musical phenomena since the inception of rock 'n' roll was all over 
the radio and it was hard to turn on a station that didn't play a Beatles song 
every half hour or more. In terms of harmonica, the Beatles' early recordings 
all (or so it seemed) featured prominent performances of the harmonica.
But it was the WRONG harmonica. It was the blues harp. Marine Band. Diatonic. 
Not the glorious CHROMATIC.
The Beatles weren't the first rock band to use the blues harp, Chicago 
bluesmen like Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf and Southern swamp master Slim Harpo -- 
among others -- crossed over to AM radio and were mistaken for rock 'n' roll, 
as did country music without fiddles or pedal steel guitar, simply because 
they featured guitars. If a song had guitars, it must be rock, right?
 The division, for the most past, between chromatic and diatonic players 
comes from musical tastes. Rock, blues, country people like diatonic; pop and 
classical music people play chromatic. 
Most chromatic players follow pop, standards, big band songs that they 
actually heard in their youth of the 30s and 40s.
I think Doug liked all kinds of music, and therefore, he "liked" all kinds of 
harmonicas. He didn't think one was necessarily better than the other, just a 
different tool for different tasks.
Chroms and diatonics are like the sax and clarinet -- different sounds that 
work better in different settings. 
If you look at the  "chromatic list" and someone brings up the word "blues" 
it seems as if every member on the list has to contribute his thoughts about 
how he hates the blues and that only "nonmusicians on diatonics" -- so that you 
get 50 posts all dealing with how rotten blues music is. I think there is a 
generation gap.
My parents had no use for rock 'n' roll, but they didn't go out of their way 
to hate it. They just ignored it -- except when I refused to drive on family 
trips unless I could control the radio.
But if I can open another can of worms here, I think the division between 
diatonic and chromatic goes beyond simply musical tastes, although that is the 
main divide. Given the chance to hear that chestnut  Peg O'My Heart on a 
diatonic, most chromatic players would rather walk out of the room.
All of which is to say, that there never was a so-called golden era of 
harmonica at SPAH. There was only a period of time when more, and better diatonic 
players were brought in to perform rather than ONLY the same revivalist 
harmonica bands. 
Phil Lloyd
PS As I've already said, Buckeye was great and we owe a debtto Jimi Lee and 
PT Gazell (among others) and the leadership of Jack Ely for that.
In a message dated 4/27/2007 8:48:08 AM Eastern Daylight Time, 
EGS1217@xxxxxxx writes:

Somehow the impression seems to be that this so-called "chasm" began  when 
Douglas Tate became President of SPAH, is that not  what one poster is implying? 
On the contrary, it seems  that all of the photos I've seen, stories I've 
read, anecdotal tales I've  been told since joining SPAH, Harp-L, and going 
to Buckeye  showed Mr. Tate mingling and having the happiest times and most fun 
with  players of every stripe, including many diatonic players, and he seems 
to  have been quite beloved by everyone he met.  I'm only sorry I didn't  get 
the chance to know him in person prior to his untimely  passing.   

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