[Harp-L] SPAH '09

Jerry Devillier was at the last Filisko teach in. He plays Cajun music on a 10 hole diatonic. No altered tunings, no extra reeds just a plain old 10 hole. He imitates the accordion parts. As Joe Filisko says, "the man is a national treasure". I don't think I'd disagree with that statement. I just parked myself at his table and spent the next 2 hours listening and playing trying to get it. Jerry had a friend there too. I've forgotten his name at the moment. Nicest guy you'd ever want to meet. Makes me want to get in a car and just drive for 2 and a half days and get to Eunice Louisiana to hear Jerry play his Friday night gig.

I was fascinated by the Hohner giant harmonicas. I think they had a Blues Harp and a Marine Band. Jerry Deall has them in a photo. What was fascinating were not the harmonicas. Nope it was all the people who were posing for pictures in front of the harmonicas.

Buzz was Buzz only more so than ever and better than ever. I think therein lies the rub. You spend an awful lot of time standing around talking to friends. You can't really report much of that in a Spah report.

Chris's product is very attractive in person. Beautifully finished harmonicas. Christelle is larger than life and does play quite well at the jams but really that wasn't so surprising because her videos are all about hurling herself from cliffs and seeing if she lands on her feet. That and the blues jam is a lot like playing to a backing track. She has this low end wail she does that spans many notes. I'm incredibly jealous of it and I'd say I want to know how she does but I think I actually figured out how it is she does it, practice. She was talking about playing the 2 and 3 draw notes. Practice by going open note bend, open note next bend, open note next bend over and over again. that and playing Yesterday, it's all low end bends.

I hate to think of the carbon footprint of this event. Can't be pretty. Probably as bad as the collective sleep deficit. Personally I liked the venue. I was tipped to an Ethiopian restaurant and foodwise it was the highlight of the event. Sacramento is beautiful and the climate suits me. The hotel was fine I grew to like how spread out it all was. Paul Messinger showed up for one night. Quite the treat. Will Scarlett could be an event unto himself. Got to see Cissy Jones replacing reeds in a seminar. Thoroughly enjoyed that. She's a hero of mine. She handled being talked over by the audience with aplomb.

The effects throw down was entertaining and LOUD! I was finally driven from the room towards the end and I had 25 dB flat cut ear plugs in. It was that loud. I learned what the difference between a HOG and POG is. I also got to hear an RP in person, intriguing but it has some similarities with MP3's. Same crunchy sibilance as it distorts.

The new guys were astounding. One person in particular blew my mind. Unfortunately I don't know which of the 4 it was because they were all sitting together in the blues jam and I was in back. Best solo I heard all week that didn't come out of a Dennis Gruenling or a Steve Baker etc. Masterfully musical.

Way too much to do this year. Absolutely no down time. There was something fun to do from 8 am through pretty much 1 am every day. Exhausting. Love that Torch Club neon sign. I very much enjoyed the Harpbeats short set at the club. Winslow was also quite fun that night. Rather than start my week at deficit I left early so I missed Mark Hummel etc and Jason's last set.

Charlie Musselwhite was playing a Cruncher. I'd say it worked really well for what it is he does.

Richard Sleigh deserves an award for being the hardest working man at SPAH. He did the teach in. the beginners jam at 10 am and he backed anyone and everyone for the entire week. Great 3 harmonica thing with James Conway, Brendan Power and Richard Sleigh.

I will admit that I approach every SPAH with more than a little dread. I have great ambivalence for the event. I think about day 1 1/2 I had had it and wanted to leave. By the end of day 2 I was fine and it was always fun for the rest of the week. Better than average SPAH. Calmer with less apparent drama. Really well run and kudos to Warren for the top notch job on publicity. fjm

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