Monday, August 2, 2010

Blue Harp Nirvana

Houston harp ace, Sonny Boy Terry, ramrodded one heck of a blues harp day at Dan Electro's Guitar Bar this past Saturday (7/31/10. Outstanding harmonica performances by the HTown Jukes, Dave Nevling, Rob Roy Parnell and Sonny Boy Terry saturated the packed club with all the fat toned blues harp notes that one could possibly ask to hear. Two hours plus of Adam Gussow's clinic on blues harp technique and methods provided the cherry on top of all the sweet stuff. Fantastic afternoon that spilled into the wee hours of the morning, that I'll tell in the pictures that follow (I'm slapping this up as quick as I can, I'll edit later. Forgive me if I blow a name or two or three):

The HTown Jukes (pictured above) opened the festivities with a tight set of tasty blues. They mixed in tunes from the usual suspects along with a few originals. The local band is fronted by Larry Bernal (harp/vocals) and Steve Gilbert (guitar/vocals). Kirk Schafer (standup bass)and Carl Owens (drums) nailed down the bottom end of the rhythm and thumped solid. Larry got some kind of great tones cranking from his Meteor Mini amplifier.

Those who signed up for Adam Gussow's blues harp clinic got their money's worth. The man from Mississippi demonstrated his one man band hill country stomp tune employing his custom made kick drum, explained how important it is to keep a rhythm going while blowing, how to work bends correctly, etc..etc...He invited a brave group of newbies (pictured above)to join him on stage with the challenge that they'd blow a better note when the stepped down. It did work for most of '

After a meal break, patrons (above, top) enjoyed a screening of Pocket Full of Soul, the best harmonica documentary EVER produced. Producers, Todd Slobin and director, Marc Lempert were on hand for discussion and had plenty of DVDs for the masses.

Then Dave Nevling and his Blues Kats (above) got things smoking hot again with his their set of blues done up in with Dave's original blues harp stylings on his original tunes. He blew his Gulf Coast brew through an Astatic mic with a Shure element and the big daddy Meteor amp. The Blues Kats, Tom Bryan (guitar), Joe Campise (drums) and Jeff Parmenter (bass) had the crowd pumped at the end of their 45minutes.

The Houston Blues Society's Boyd Bluestein is pictured above with other volunteer members manning the 'swag' table filled with plenty of t-shirts, cds, posters, etc...from the days events.

The Rob Roy Parnell (above) hit the stage and completely upset the house with his rollicking roadhouse rolling and tumbling blues. The crowd wouldn't let him slow down to catch his breath and he kept up with their demands by mixing his original stuff along with jumping thangs like George 'Harmonica' Smith's "Oop Doopin' Doopin'". He did slow down enough to work in a swampy ballad or two, which really highlighted his superb singing. Sonny Boy Terry's band were pulling house band duties and did an amazing job of pushing and pulling Rob Roy's material. Jonn Richardson put on a blues guitar clinic. Lenny Fatigati(bass)and J.D. Detulio are the best rhythm section this side of the Sabine.

Okay, now Adam Gussow had the task of following two full-steam-ahead blues band with his one man show. By golly gee, he sure as hell pulled it off and had the crowd in his hand in a matter of a song or two. Anyone who can go from raising a ruckus, stomping out an R.L. Burnside, one chord Mississippi Hill Country romp, to a smooth B.B. King and then top it off rockin' with Cream's Sunshine of My Love and their version of Crossroads...well, they're darned sure alright in my book. He cooked it on down with just his harp, Premier/Kay/Harp Gear amp and a custom made kick drum. He proved how well it can be done with the smaller amp combinations.

Then Mr. Houston Blues, Sonny Boy Terry, stepped on stage with the finest blues band in the state. Sonny Boy Terry oozes Texas Gulf Coast Blues out the pore of his skin. This is the blues where Louisiana swamp, Zydeco, Texas swagger and uptown R&B meet up at Holcomb and Dowling and blend into a wonderful blues gumbo unique to the region. He and his bandmates jacked up the ante and blew it on home and left the blues harp fanatics drenched in the vibe that reverberated Dan Electro's. Adam joined in on an fantasbulbulous version of the Stones' Miss You with a twin harp attack harmonizing the coda. Adam nailed Sugar Blues' licks with perfection. The band played outside themselves--especially when Jonn Richardson's ten fingers tortured his guitar strings. Fine finale--yep, it was.

But wasn't over yet. Steve 'The Professor' Schneider (above) cranked up 'Fess' Fest Jam as the chief jam-meister by picking up where Sonny Boy's band left off. He and Bob Spence lit into GTF and shook the rafter with the song. Steve's the best harmonica player without a band, who should have a band, in Houston. Wonderful tone. I'd never heard Bob Spence before, but now that I have, I'd say that he's pretty much in the same league. Them boys could blow. Steve allowed me to tag along with him as we ran through the late, great Gary Primich's Dry County. Another good harper named Shane (sorry forgot the last name)swapped licks with us. Sharing the stage with Jonn Richardson, JD Detullio, Steve Gilbert and Steve's girlfriend, Bella Adella, popping the bass strings was truly a treat. Nothing like blowing on a blues song with the pros. was over. For me anyway. I still had an hour and a half drive, so I lit out for the country. But man, what a fine, fine day for the blues.

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