[Harp-L] Charlie McCoy's first recording session as a harmonica player

Ken Karpowicz karpowicz@xxxxx
Sat Jun 27 13:58:06 EDT 2020

George,  thanks for sharing your story and that information. I’m looking forward to someday reading more of your research.


> On Jun 27, 2020, at 12:55 PM, George Miklas <harmonicat at xxxxx> wrote:
> To Arthur and other curious, I have read Charlie McCoy's autobiography, and
> have cited it in my academic writing. He was rather disrespected by his
> bass teacher because he was self-taught [1] and was advised to give up
> rock-n-roll and country music. [2] Charlie himself states, "...I decided it
> was time to take the leap and leave my college career behind" [3] but was
> fearful to tell his father.  And there you have it, yes Charlie is a
> phenomenal musician!, but his weekend gigging, country music, and the
> harmonica were all disrespected by the Dean of music at the University of
> Miami.
> I relate to Charlie's story, because like Charlie I faced financial
> struggles in college plus I faced disrespect similar to Charlie from
> pretentious classical musicians, and it because I was touring with Jerry
> Murad's Harmonicats. After my first run with the Harmonicats, I went back
> to music school and finished the degree. Many years later, I had the
> opportunity to earn a graduate degree in harmonica, Master of Arts in Music
> Education - Harmonica Performance, and now I am set to finish the terminal
> degree next May, Doctorate of Music Education - Harmonica Performance.
> Footnotes:
> [1] Charlie McCoy, *50 Cents and a Box Top, The creative life of Nashville
> Session Musician Charlie McCoy*, (Morgantown: West Virginia University
> Press, 2017), 28.
> [2] Ibid., 30.
> [3] Ibid., 33.
> Biography:
> McCoy, Charlie. *50 Cents and a Box Top, The creative life of Nashville
> Session Musician Charlie McCoy*. Morgantown: West Virginia University
> Press, 2017.
> *--------------------------*
> *George Miklas <http://www.georgemiklas.com/>, M.A., M.Ed., B.M. in Ed.,*
> *and **Candidate for DME (2021)*
> *Harmonica and Tuba Performing Artist www.GeorgeMiklas.com
> <http://www.georgemiklas.com/> *
> *Harmonica Gallery www.HarmonicaGallery.com
> <http://www.harmonicagallery.com/>  Click here for **Sales
> <http://sales.harmonicagallery.com/> or **Repair
> <http://repair.harmonicagallery.com/>*
>> On Sat, Jun 27, 2020 at 7:40 AM Arthur Jennings via Harp-L <
>> harp-l at xxxxx> wrote:
>> I think people are forgetting that Charlie is a university-trained
>> musician and multi-instrumentalist.
>> As to whether he conceived of Am on an F harp as “fifth position” or as
>> simply “relative minor of the cross-harp key,” as guess you’d have to ask
>> him. Either way, he knew what he was doing.
>>>> On Jun 26, 2020, at 10:53 AM, JOSEPH LEONE <3n037 at xxxxx> wrote:
>>> Fairly simple repetitious riff. And I'm not convinced that McCoy knew
>> what positions were. Not at 20 at least. Hey, I could be dead wrong.
>>> Many people have played harmonicas in off the wall positions and didn't
>> know that they WERE positions. And probably couldn't tell you WHAT they
>> were doing except that they 'found' a harp that worked.
>>> I DO know that the few times I have seen/heard Charlie play chromatic,
>> he used one tuned TO the tune he was playing. I recall that we were playing
>> once and using Bb diatonics in the second position for F, and I even did a
>> solo on chro martic.
>>> He asked me if I was using an F chromo. and I showed him that I was
>> using a C.
>>> AND in the huge compendium of tunes that he had played on vinyl over the
>> years, he always seemed to use second position.
>>> Charlie used to use 2 or more diatonics for some tunes. Example:
>> 'Londonderry Aire (Oh Danny Boy). He used a D crossed for the head, then an
>> A straight for the bridge, than back to a D. Then he would go up one sharp,
>> use an Eb crossed for the head, a Bb straight, and back to an Eb crossed.
>> Four harps.
>>> I only used two. But I had changed one reed. Something he discovered
>> many years later.
>>> smo-joe
>>>> On 06/26/2020 6:51 AM Ken H in Ohio <airmojoken at xxxxx> wrote:
>>>> That's a great song and excellent playing by Charlie McCoy.
>>>> I wonder if Charlie knew he was playing in what we now call "5th
>> position"
>>>> back then ?
>>>> Probably did, but I still wonder about it.
>>>> Ken H in OH
>>>>> On Thu, Jun 25, 2020 at 8:54 PM Peter Madcat Ruth <
>> madcat at xxxxx>
>>>>> wrote:
>>>>> Charlie McCoy's first recording session as a harmonica player was in
>> 1961
>>>>> when Charlie was 20 years old.
>>>>> The song was "I Just Don't Understand", by Ann-Margret.
>>>>> The song was in the key of Am and Charlie was playing an F harmonica  -
>>>>> that’s fifth position!
>>>>> check it out:
>>>>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDagZECOhJc
>>>>> Peter Madcat Ruth

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