[Harp-L] Unsung Heroes

RIP Pat Ramsey, I too met him at SPAH a few years back and had never
heard of him.  He was a nice man and great player.  What impressed me
was the story between Jason and Pat and how much Jason did for the
awareness of his mentor.

So I propose we all dig deep and talk about one player or more that
few else seems to be aware of who helped us along the way.

I want to talk about Eugene Huggins.  He was (and I assume still is) a
Bay Area harp player, living in Mill Valley, California while I went
to Sonoma State University. I became aware of him due to an album I
bought because the liner notes said there was a harp player, The
Casuals Live.  It was basically a rock blues band with a very smooth
fast harp player and singer.  It was a great album that I listened to
again and again.  That was high school.  Once, while still in high
school I met Eugene at the San Rafael music store Bananas at Large.
We both bought a harp.  I asked him to play.  He was buying a marine
band and tried to beg off saying you needed to break in Marine Bands
before really playing them and then proceeded to do some of the best
harp licks this 16 year old kid had ever heard live.

Then I went to college and grew a beard to be able to regularly go to
Santa Rosa's Magnolias, Cotati's Tradewinds and the Cotati Cabaret.  I
do not remember where I saw him first but the band was Eugene and the
Bluejeans and they were a straight blues band with a bit of a
bubblegum pop feel, unapologetically vanilla.  Anyway I talked to
Eugene and he said to come see them at Magnolias.  I did.  I came
early and he had me check his mic and amp on stage before the show so
he could hear it in the audience.  This was a VERY big moment for me.

I continued to show up at his gigs and when I was a sophomore, he let
me sit in.  I had done a bunch of gigs by then and had probably sat in
with a few pro bands before, but this felt special.  I can remember
being in a friend's dorm room after the show talking about it.
Anyway, Eugene was kind enough to let sit in almost every show I went
to from then on.  He was a great player and always put on a high level
show.  More than that, he changed my life and helped give me the
courage to become a professional.  Here's to him.

Michael Rubin

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