Re: [Harp-L] SPAH and me

Well written and good comments.

SPAH is always a reflection of whoever sits at the top of the "pyramid"'s philosophy.

>From my experiences dating back 20 years, I believe the current philosophy has been to build the convection back up to the level it was before Doug Tate changed SPAH's course.

Even though it is 15 years later, from what I've heard, the latest convention has shown much improvement in getting back to a world class event.

Now, there will soon be a new President. Hopefully it will be a creative mind that thinks outside the typical harmonica box and opens up possibilities as outlined by Roscoe.

I also understand the "hangin' with ol' buddies" attraction. This is all well and good, but should be also mixed in with new innovations and direction to keep the concept alive and evolving.

Hopefully the convention will not turn into an old home week, sorta what it was like back in the 90's for the older chromatic crowd.

Time will tell....

-----Original Message-----
From: rosco <roscoharp@xxxxxxxxx>
To: harp-l <harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Wed, Aug 19, 2015 10:03 am
Subject: [Harp-L] SPAH and me

I'm a bad Harp-l citizen! Seems I'm one of those people who only post to
when I'm trying to promote something I did or something I'm going to
do. In my
defense, the biggest reason for that is that almost EVERYONE on
this list knows
more about how harps work, the history of harmonica, and
how to play the thing
than I do. I usually have nothing to add to the
discussions. But I am a regular
reader and I think Harp-l is a fantastic
resource for our community. So...this
post is both a promotional one and, I
hope, the springboard for discussion.
thoughts on my SPAH experience:
SPAH is awesome, and anyone who is interested
in harmonica and hasn't
attended a SPAH should go! I tell everyone that, and I
believe it! When I
was first learning to play harp, SPAH was incredibly
inspiring. In those
days I was playing mainly blues, and for a blues guy, SPAH
is heaven. As I
expanded the styles of music I wanted to play, there wasn't as
much to gain
musically from SPAH. SPAH is maybe 50% blues oriented? And the
rest is
split up into Jazz Chro, country, a little folk, and some
personality driven music (classical, Celtic, etc.). For me,SPAH
has became
less and less about the performances and seminars, and more about
the close
friendships I've made and that I'm still making in the harp
community. This
is not necessarily an indictment of SPAH - the convention seems
to please
most of the attendees...but it MIGHT be an indictment of our
community in general. There is a huge range of music where our
is very under-represented. These days I'm involved with
and bands that play original Americana,  pop, and rock.
These genres are
what I mostly listen to, as do millions of other music fans,
and they are
what I want to play! And would I love to hear more of on 'our'
played by others in this larger universe of music. It seems there
much instruction or discussion oriented towards making harp a
'band' instrument outside of blues...maybe there isn't much
interest, but
the A in SPAH stands for ADVANCEMENT.
Here are some of the
things I'm interested in that I've learned through
years of trial and error:
trying to make  harp fit without always
shoehorning a solo in; playing 'parts'
with bandmates; playing the melody;
laying out for a verse or two while the
song builds (or just LAYING OUT
ALTOGETHER!); playing long tones with varied
vibrato; finding a part that
makes a chorus 'pop' - that kind of stuff. (I
think of my harp as playing
violin-like lines when I'm comping behind a
singer.) There is not much of
this at SPAH. Even the best performances are
usually so harp-centric that
they wear out my ears...and I LOVE harp! I'm sure
someone somewhere at SPAH
sang a song with harmony vocals and sweet harp fills,
but I missed it. I
miss it every time I go. There is an emphasis on blues and
jazz that is
understandable - most players fall somewhere along that continuum.
I don't
hear harp used much to accompany a singer or to fit into the song as
'real' band instrument and not just to solo. I hear some, sure,  but not
lot. Maybe there isn't much interest in this kind of playing? Or maybe
slot ourselves too easily into what we are expected to play? I love
but I think there is a lot of untapped potential for harmonica in
forms of music.

Anyway, I just put this on Facebook:

'I just got
back from a large gathering of harmonica players from all over
the world. There
were some truly great performances by harmonica
wizards....but I missed hearing
actual songs! Harmonica can be used as much
more than just a blues instrument
or for a flashy solo break! I've been
trying to make harp work in 'songs' for a
long time, and now I've written
and recorded an album with that

You can listen to 4 of my
songs here:
Ron 'Rosco'



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