Re: [Harp-L] real deal harp

count me in. James Cotton moves as only he can, given his personality, technique, experience, etc. Same can be said for Rick Estrin, Kim Wilson, Brandon Power and any other musician that plays fearlessly from their own personal center.

-----Original Message-----
From: Buck Worley <boogalloo@xxxxxxx>
To: Richard Hunter <turtlehill@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>; harp-l <harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Tue, Aug 2, 2011 12:32 pm
Subject: RE: [Harp-L] real deal harp

I tend to agree with Richard on this. As for me, I am still trying to master a 
good "fox chase" and I love the old amps and old mic combos. But, I am also into 
the new things/equipment/sounds and techniques that are being developed.
If sounding like James Cotton is one's goal then go for it. I respect that. The 
great players of the past are worth studying (understatement).
I find myself trying very hard to not fall into a stereotypical traditional 
slot. There are so many harp players out there that are doing this type of show 
that when I go see a traditional blues band, it gets monotonous after a set or 
two. I want to do something different; something special that sets me apart from 
the majority and that means the selection of songs and playing and writing 
When I first started playing in a garage band we were all about "sounding just 
like the record". Now days, I seldom want to sound just like the record. I want 
to sound like me.

> Date: Mon, 1 Aug 2011 13:45:45 -0400
> From: turtlehill@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> To: harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: Re: [Harp-L] real deal harp
> david robbins wrote:
> >Hey, check out this video: 
> > . No overblows, 
> >overdraws, no fancy technical licks, no crazy position changes, plain and 
> >simple simple 2nd position, no custom harmonicas, no custom amps, no custom 
> >mics, no effects processors, obviously no feedback control. Just great music 
> >played by a real-deal harp player, musician and entetainer. This is the best 
> >harp player can strive to get, in an attempt to touch an audience. Blues or 
> >otherwise.
> >
> First things first: It's great music. It's timeless. Thanks for sharing the 
> Now for the logical fallacies in the argument above:
> >No overblows, no 
> >overdraws, no fancy technical licks, no crazy position changes, plain and 
> >simple simple 2nd position, no custom harmonicas, no custom amps, no custom 
> >mics, no effects processors, obviously no feedback control... 
> >This is the best a 
> >harp player can strive to get, in an attempt to touch an audience. 
> Maybe the above is just an appreciation of the greatness of the music. But 
it's framed in terms that make it seem like everything that followed Cotton is 
pointless. If that's the case--and I apologize in advance if that's not your 
point--then the argument essentially boils down to "there's no point in trying 
anything new, because the best has already been done." 
> If that's true, why should anyone improve the instruments? Why improve the 
gear? Why try and apply different techniques? Why even switch positions on the 
harp in mid-song (something that Charlie Musselwhite, a traditional blues player 
whose stature is certainly comparable to Cotton's, does on every record he's 
made since the early 1990s at least)? For that matter, why should any of us 
bother to play the instrument ourselves? 
> In other words, why not just take some performance at an arbitrary point in 
time as the standard for everything forever, and stop trying to do anything 
different? I mean, if a style developed in the 1950s is "the best a harp player 
can strive to get," what's the point of doing anything else?
> When I was in college, I was amazed to hear a pianist tell me that as far as 
he was concerned all music after Bach was a waste of time. But audiences and 
musicians change over time in taste and sophistication. Stevie Ray Vaughn does 
not sound the same as Hubert Sumlin. And why should they? They played for 
different audiences in very different eras, not to mention that they were very 
different people. As John Mehegan wrote in his classic work "Jazz Piano", it's 
pointless to compare Louis Armstrong to Charlie Parker and claim that one should 
have adopted the conventions of the other, not least because Parker would have 
sounded completely incomprehensible, emotionally and technically, to an audience 
in Chicago in 1927. But Parker, like Armstrong, changed the way people heard 
music forever. And he did it by expressing his own ideas, not someone else's.
> I love lots of different music, from Beethoven to Little Walter to Hendrix to 
Levy to... you name it. Evaluating any of these musicians in terms of the others 
is a waste of time and insulting to the musicians involved. The most important 
thing ANY of us can do, for ourselves and our world, musically or othrerwise, is 
to express who we are, not repeat somebody else's ideas. I don't have to reject 
everything that came after Cotton to make Cotton look great. Cotton IS great. 
He's just not the only version of great out there, nor the last. And he's 
definitely not me, and I'm definitely not him. 
> I'll be proud if people say I made great music after I'm gone (or even while 
I'm still around, if anyone is so inclined). But it's a waste of my time, and an 
insult to everything Cotton stands for, for me to spend my days and nights 
trying to do what he did. The great blues masters, one and all, say that the 
most important thing for you to play is what's inside you. So how can anyone say 
that the best thing a harmonica player can do is emulate someone else, whether 
it's Cotton, Little Walter, or a modern master like Brendan Power? They're all 
great, and we can learn from all of them. And then we can go our own ways.
> My way has involved creating a repertoire of original solo compositions for 
acoustic harmonica, and then swinging to the opposite pole by exploring what 
electronics can do with the instrument. Maybe it's great, maybe not. Whether or 
not it's great, I know it's not the end-all and be-all. And THAT's great, 
because it means that somebody else, somewhere, sometime, gets the chance to do 
something great on their own terms. 
> And that's what keeps me listening.
> Again, if I misunderstood the post, I apologize for mis-reading it, and you 
can forget everything I said above except the first line.
> Regards, Richard Hunter
> author, "Jazz Harp" 
> latest mp3s and harmonica blog at
> Myspace
> Vids at
> more mp3s at
> Twitter: lightninrick


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