[Harp-L] "there's no harmonica in this tune"

As I read this bluegrass harmonica thread it really reminds me of why I have
always had a problem with "real heady self rightous musicians". The type
that are so boxed into a frame of mind that they forget what IMHO is the
purpose for music in the first place: to have fun, to use all parts of the
brain; technical and creative, to communicate ideas and feelings, to share
and to encourage listeners to stir up personal emotions and thoughts of
their own.

Over the years I have been in and out of many musical ensembles. Nothing is
more frustrating in my world than to be in a rehearsal situation with
participants introducing new material and the evil words rear their ugly
head : "Theres no harmonica on this tune...sit this one out" Now I
understand that if it gets to showtime and the harp doesn't "work" at all
then that is the time to sit it out. When I have been working with musicians
that have "open minds" about instrumentation this is where I have
experienced the most "musical growth" personally. Finding your place in a
"non harmonica" song makes you think about horn lines, rhythms, SPACE,
accents, other instruments, different positions etc. Most importantly it
gets you thinking about being part of a conversation/story and not "look at
me, look at me, look ma no hands". I am stepping out on a limb with this
next comment but as usual that won't stop me. Curious what responses it
generates from y'all:

The reasons that many like to limit "outside of the box instrumentation" is
FEAR and EGO. The "tradition" cry can make a good smoke screen for the

My 5 minute flash of bluegrass fame came back in '93 at the Strawberry Park
Bluegrass Festival. I was asked on stage by Del McCoury and his Grammy award
winning band. Back in that time frame I must have been to at least 12
bluegrass festivals and NEVER saw a non stringed instrument on stage. I was
attending these events as an avid fan of the music not as an aspiring
bluegrass harp player. I had no bluegrass licks in my pocket. I was asked on
stage because Del knew I wasn't a hack and because it was a "fun" break from
tradition. The stage and the audience of about 1000 was all smiles. None
bigger than mine! We ripped through a song Del called "Rocky Mountain
Special". I faked it all the way through and we got a standing ovation after
the tune. Was I incredible and awesome, nah, just good enough to let them
shine and me squeeze into some cracks. My point: Del & company had no
fears and controlled egos on that stage. It was all about ENTERTAINMENT and
GOOD TIMES. Now that's what I call TRADITION!


Warren "Bee" Bachman
SPAH Publicity Director

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