Re: [Harp-L] Harmonica in Bluegrass
John, you hit the nail on the with your statement about the harmonica being
appropriate to most genre if played with sensitvity to that genre. That's
it, man. I conversations with a musician friend of mine back in 70s about
just such a belief. He felt that the harmonica was not appropriate to every
kind of music. At that time I was aware of players like Larry Adler, Toots
Thielemans, Norton Buffalo and Charlie McCoy. I kept telling him that there
were musicians out there who play anything on the harmonica. Dan Axt
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, January 23, 2011 12:06 PM
Subject: Re: [Harp-L] Harmonica in Bluegrass
Some 15 years ago, I started playing "New Orleans Jazz"...Other wise
known... In England anyway, as "Trad Jazz".. On my harmonica.
I performed many times with Brian Green's New Orleans Stompers, In London
UK... At "Pizza Express' ,"Pizza on the Park" and at many other
London Jazz venues.
Folks said "There is NO PLACE for the harmonica in New Orleans Jazz"...
But of course THERE IS... The harp can play the clarinet part... Or it's
OWN part.... In the arrangement.
Same in bluegrass... Mostly, the harmonica will play along with, or
of.. The fiddle in bluegrass music, and it can sound just wonderful.
Let's face it.
In most genres of music, people tell us that the harmonica is
"inappropriate"... In classical music, people like Robert Bonfiglio,
Douglas Tate, as
well as Larry Adler PROVED that not to be the case!
I believe the harmonica, sensitively played, fits into most ANY genre of
It saddens me that people can be so ridged in their perceptions of music
genres... I myself have been criticized many times for... For example...
playing a Little Walter tune, and for not copying "his" solo...
I don't copy. I like to be INSPIRED ...
John "Whiteboy" Walden
In a message dated 1/24/2011 12:18:05 A.M. Malay Peninsula Standard ,
Bill Monroe, considered the "father" of bluegrass music, utilized the
talents of DeFord Baily who not only played harmonica for the band he
composed the "Evening Prayer Blues", one of Mr Monroe's hits.
Monroe was also known to employ piano and accordian players in his band.
In addition to harmonica I play bass, dobro, finger-style guitar and
The next time a bluegrass purist talks about the "traditional
instrumentation" of bluegrass point out the fact that Bill not only used
harmonica in his band, but a black man played it. In the 30's, 40's, &
that was pretty revolutionary in itsself.
It's all about the style of music, not the instrumentation. Here in the
Northwest USA the "traditional instrumentation" bluegrass snobs abound,
a few of us are breaking into the acoustic music scene a step at a time.
That said, blowin' a 12-bar blues solo in the middle of a traditional
bluegrass number should be a hangin' offense....
Dennis M. Cooper
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