[Harp-L] Artist Thomas Benton - His Harmonica History?

John Jordan hooktool@xxxxx
Thu Sep 27 00:17:35 EDT 2018

And reading further, he is credited with the "tabs" notation that many/most
use today. Maybe common knowledge, but new to me and very interesting.
This page at the Country Music Hall of Fame is interesting as well.


On Wed, Sep 26, 2018 at 9:54 PM John Jordan <hooktool at xxxxx> wrote:

> Where is the show you are playing? I can't help, but glad you posted this,
> he's one of my favorite artists and I had no idea he played harmonica. So
> thanks!
> John
> On Thu, Sep 20, 2018 at 2:01 AM philharpn--- via Harp-L <harp-l at xxxxx>
> wrote:
>> I stopped at Tom Benton's house/museum about 10 years ago (???) while in
>> St. Louis for a SPAH convention.  I inspected Benton's chromatic harmonica
>> collection (12 holes) and his harmonica notation. He used a tablature
>> system of numbers and arrows-- now a very common tablature for diatonic and
>> chromatic.  I don't know if he was the first to use the system-- but it
>> probably was not very common when he used. ALSO, there would not be very
>> many harmonica books when Benton started out. He started on the diatonic
>> harp and later switched to the chromatic. Somebody from the Benton museum
>> showed up at SPAH to give a talk and only about three people attended the
>> talk. Which means the chromatic crowd didn't have a clue who Tom Benton was
>> and/or didn't care to learn. I think I learned about Benton from Phil
>> Duncan, the Mel Bay harmonica author.
>> The web account says he bought a more expensive harmonica to play
>> half-notes; wrong term. The chromatic allows half-steps -- which means
>> flats and sharps (the black keys of the piano). There are no "missing
>> notes" like on the diatonic. The C chromatic can play in any key -- like
>> the piano.
>> If you contact the Benton house/museum you could probably get a list of
>> the tunes he played and tabbed out and/or the songs on the 78 rpm records
>> he recorded. I'm sure I must have written something for American Harmonica
>> Newsletter at the time -- but that was on a PC computer. I'm now using a
>> Mac and there is no electronic index.
>> The 1941 three-record 78 rpm album would have 6 songs if it one song on
>> each side of each record. Benton must of used a swing rhythm to play the
>> tunes because the rest of the musicians on session couldn't follow him
>> until he took his shoe off and they could follow the beat of his shoeless
>> foot.
>> Here is the links for the Benton home and studio state historic site
>> <
>> https://mostateparks.com/park/thomas-hart-benton-home-and-studio-state-historic-site
>> >
>> There is Teachers Guide
>> A video of actor portraying Benton <
>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVM8hJuuOqo>
>> Hope this helps
>> Phil
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Harpin' J.Scott <harpinj.scott at xxxxx>
>> To: Blunt White <playharp at xxxxx>
>> Cc: harp-l <harp-l at xxxxx>
>> Sent: Wed, Sep 19, 2018 10:48 am
>> Subject: Re: [Harp-L] Artist Thomas Benton - His Harmonica History?
>> He seemed to favor early American folk tunes. Particularly "Old Joe
>> Clark",
>> "My Horses Ain't Hungry", and " Buffalo Gals".
>> Great website for more info here:
>> https://countrymusichalloffame.org/inductees/thomas-hart-benton1
>> Best of luck!
>> On Wed, Sep 19, 2018, 10:40 AM Blunt White <playharp at xxxxx> wrote:
>> > Greetings - I've been asked to play harmonica at an Art Show opening of
>> > Thomas Benton's works (Benton is famous for murals/paintings depicting
>> > American life in late 1800's and early 1900's).   Benton was also a
>> > harmonica player and released an album in 1941 called Saturday Night at
>> Tom
>> > Benton's (it's on iTunes).   I'll be performing with some other artists,
>> > guitar, fiddle etc.   An art historian will be speaking about his art.
>> >  Does anyone have a story about his harmonica?  Was there a particular
>> song
>> > he liked, if so I would to play it.  I want to do right with this
>> > opportunity.  Thank you
>> > Best,
>> > Blunt White
>> > Stonington CT, USA
>> >

More information about the Harp-L mailing list