[Harp-L] Bluegrass Chromatic Harmonica

Mark Panfil, Tony Eyers, Richard Hunter, Bob Loomis, Winslow Yerxa, Michael Polesky,...

Sorry it took me so long to respond to the bluegrass chromatic harmonica message thread of October 27, 2008. (I joined Harp-L after this thread was created, and it was Michael Polesky who pointed the thread out to me.) I really appreciate the kind words from all of you harmonica greats about my bluegrass chromatic playing on my new CD, the “High Desert Bluegrass Sessions.” I’m pleased that you agree that the chromatic harmonica can sound good in bluegrass. As you know, the harmonica isn’t commonly played in bluegrass, and the chromatic is extremely rare. I hope this changes. My next CD will probably be gypsy jazz, another genre where harmonica is rarely used (but where accordions are established).


Like you, the late David McKelvy reminded me of Jimmy Riddle’s bluegrass harmonica playing. I heard Jimmy’s record many years ago. The only tune I can remember is “Stony Point” where, as you mentioned, he used the slide-in blow chord, thus playing in Db on a C chromatic. As you point out, my approach is very different, partly as a result of all the jamming I do with musicians who aren't harmonica players. Bluegrass musicians, who tend to be wary of harmonica players, wouldn’t take kindly to a harmonica player requesting that they get out of their standard key and play in some weird key like Db! And thanks for noticing the jazz-sensitive tones that I sometimes throw in. This jazzy approach to bluegrass came from listing to folks like Jethro Burns and Pat Cloud.


Yes, Pat Cloud is “a banjo god,” and I’m really fortunate to be his friend and have him record with me. He has taught me a great deal about bluegrass as well as jazz.

Best regards,
David Naiditch

This archive was generated by a fusion of Pipermail 0.09 (Mailman edition) and MHonArc 2.6.8.