[Harp-L] Trying to reach out during trying times

James Fitting jayfitting@xxxxx
Fri Mar 12 14:32:20 EST 2021

Hello Harp-l listers, It has been a year since I've played a gig. And
I wanted to share my band's (Session Americana) attempt at reaching out and
engaging fans during this forced hiatus, for who knows how soon we will be
playing live again.  I was also excited about this recently mixed
performance from just over a year ago. Enjoy and thanks.
Jim Fitting

“Making Hay” - Video by Jason Goodman. https://vimeo.com/517888424

Hi Friends, Fans, and Family,

Latest “Rumination” by Jim Fitting is below. Brand new video from Lizard
Lounge show last year above.

QUICK QUESTION! How do you listen to music? Please respond to this email if
you can. We are trying to figure out how to share some music. If any of you
stream, let us know what service you use. Thanks.

- Ry and Session


Yeah, so it's just a 4 inch bit of wood and tin, metal reed plates and a
bunch of tacks that hold the 20 reeds in place. Because those reeds were
made of a particularly resilient metal alloy, the Hohner Marine Band became
the instrument of choice for players from De Ford Bailey to Howling Wolf.
These guys, they played hard, and that alloy could take it. You can hear
all that air moving across the reeds in their recordings that have come
down to us today. There is a rich fat tone that conveys something from
another time.

In 1971 Chess started putting out their "AKA" album series, and that's when
my brother and I stumbled into Mckinley Morganfield AKA guess who. With 4
sides of vinyl there's a lot in there. On the earliest recordings from this
LP there is a braid of three: Little Walter's harmonica, Muddy's slide
guitar and his voice. The hypnotic weave of Louisiana Blues was like a
light switch, a blueprint even, after all our time listening to the Stones,
Led Zeppelin and all that. Tom grabbed a bottleneck slide, and I picked the
Hohner up. I was just looking to find the right notes and trying to hang on
as we started recreating, building up our little ghosts of those tunes.

It's the bending of those little reeds that makes them sound like a voice.
You have to torture and tease them to get all those notes that are in
there. Did you know that you can get 4 notes out of the 3 hole draw? Just

But yeah I have to talk about Little Walter Jacobs, because. When you
listen to that Chess LP in its entirety, there is a sort of map of the
journey they made. It starts with the acoustic Long Distance Call and
becomes the electrified sound of I'm Ready or Trouble No More. Got a
turntable handy? My internet is a little spotty. Anyway, we were spinning a
whole lot of Chess vinyl, and when we started learning to play those songs
it was as if we were headed up Highway 61 to Chicago.

Tom found me my first Astatic JT-30 at a flea market in Richmond Ca. Thanks
Bro! The JT-30 was Walter's mike: "I snuggle up to that mike see,'cause I
can keep a whole lot of wind in that harp. I don't do nothin' but navigate
with it then." I spent the last 500 years trying to catch up with that
quote. Oh. Man.

The first amp that almost had the sound was a Fender Deluxe 'black face'
that got stolen out of our Econoline van And for it I grieved, because the
sound of the right mike through the right tube amp can be very elusive.
There's the papery thin, but full sound of a high draw chord coming through
a pair of those blue Jensen speakers, or that icy crunch like 3 day old
snow in the woods. And you can bet, I spent a good deal of time chasing
that sound.

Not so long ago, when we were playing gigs regularly, you might hear it one
night, but not every night. With luck there on a beautiful old wooden stage
in a grand old high ceilinged second floor music hall in downtown Prague
the tone might start cutting just right. Of course that's the moment when
someone in the band turns and says can you turn down? Or it might be in a
gone to seed "rock" club in Manchester NH with a railing right across the
front. You never know. What are you gonna do? It's an unforgettable and
elusive dance. Lord have mercy!


An inevitable question that I've always dreaded is about Bob Dylan. Because
I love Dylan but I'm not so hot on his harmonica playing. Of course just
this last week I watched the Rolling Thunder Review film by Scorsese and
he's playing these great licks like he's Doc Watson or something . But most
of the time Dylan is playing harmonica on a rack in this very aggressive
style he's developed. Once we opened for him at the Beacon Theater in New
York, and his playing that night was particularly egregious. On this one
song he played this 3 note phrase on the harmonica over and over and over
and over. I was like what the hell? And as I reflect on it, I realize maybe
he uses it like a spice, it's a break, a contrast, like a dash of musical
horseradish. Of course not everybody likes horseradish.

Session Americana, Dane Avenue, Somerville, MA, United States of America

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