Sunday, July 22, 2012

Texas Harmonica Fest Schedule


Here's the more details for the upcoming Texas Harmonica Festival from Sonny Boy Terry:
Now in its third year after two very successful Texas Harmonica Festival and Clinics, this year, it's just a little bit bigger with harp players from Austin, Port Arthur, Houston and Dallas representing a large chunk of Texas well. "I try to bring in artists and workshop instructors who I think I can learn something from and inspire me with their talent", says Terry. "Houston is a known guitar town. My goal with the Texas Harmonica Festival is to put the spotlight on the Houston harmonica scene and hopefully help other aspiring harmonica players up their game." "I also like networking with harmonica players across the country and beyond. The guys who I promote in this region, if they can, bring me to their cities to teach or perform".

The idea is to mix afternoon workshops and an evening concert is to bring one national known artist to Houston to headline (This year it's RJ Mischo), a special workshop instructor (This year it's Mike Rubin of youtube's Meat and Potatoes Harmonica), along with regionally and locally known performers. Christian Dozzler plays piano with the killer elite blues musicians of Dallas is also a stellar blues harmonica player/vocalist so he will pull double duty fattening up the Sonny Boy Terry Band's sound with classic blues piano.

"I have always loved RJ Mischo’s blues," says Sonny Boy Terry, "He learned straight from Muddy Waters' harmonica player Mojo Bruford while living in Minnesota. Anytime a young player learns from someone like Mojo he gets my respect because he is carrying on the tradition. RJ was meant to do what he does"
Blues fans will also love Paul Orta who hails from Port Arthur, where more great musicians are born per capita there than anywhere else in Texas it seems. He is known by many as the "Mexican Little Walter" who is a deep traditionalist with a sound that is distinctly east Texas. He worked with everybody in Austin during that town's blues hey day. "I've been following Paul for years, Sonny Boy says, "We are putting a great band behind him reintroducing him to Houston so he can really shine. I know he is going to put on a great show". This year’s festival as a very special day of authentic American blues and harmonica. Everybody is just a little more bluesier, Sonny Boy Terry’s band super tight and with Christian Dozzler on piano, the blues is going to swing. It’s going to be sublime!”

Sonny Boy Terry will kick the day off with short orientation and a beginner/intermediate workshop just to get everybody up to speed and prepared for a full day of harmonica heaven. After Terry’s introduction, Austin’s Mike Rubin will take over for his highly anticipated workshop “Meat and Potatoes Harmonica”. After that, the extremely seasoned RJ Mischo steps and guides participants on “How to Lead a Blues Band and Other Tricks of the Trade”.

An extra added attraction to this year’s workshops is Lone Wolf Harmonica Pedals owner Randy Landry out of New Orleans teaming up with Houston amp tech Stephen “Fess” Schneider to demonstrate how to use effects and amplification for harmonica. Steve is Houston’s best harmonica technician and a full line of effects, Lone Wolf Pedals for harmonica have taken the industry by storm. After that participants are invited to join the Sonny Boy Terry Band for a conga line style blues jam where everyone can get their licks in with an authentic Texas Blues act.

Following the afternoon workshops and short dinner break (Food is available on site). Dan Electro’s Guitar Bar transform from classroom back to a nightclub for a night of what promises to be a night to remember of Texas Blues. With Sonny Boy Terry Band, Mike Rubin, RJ Mischo, Paul Orta, and Christian Dozzler the music is sure to be on fire.

To register for the Texas Harmonica Festival and Clinic, you can visit or . The cost is still reasonable. You can sign up for the afternoon workshop for 30.oo or the evening concert for 15.00. But if you purchase the entire day, it only costs 40 dollars. But if you register online in advance you can get an additional 5.00 discount by entering the access code 0202 whether it’s the showcase, workshop or entire day.

Here is the schedule of the day’s activities:

Clinic times are a rough draft to provide a guide for the day's activities but
most likely will end before 6:30PM and include a short intermission.


2PM - Sonny Boy Terry - Intro. Beginner/Intermediate Harmonica

3PM - RJ Mischo - How to front a blues act workshop

4PM - Mike Rubin's Meat and Potatoes Harmonica Workshop

5PM - Lone Wolf Harp pedals Demo and Amplifying the Harmonica Workshop

6PM - Jam with a Pro blues Band (Sonny Boy Terry Band w/Christian Dozzler on


7PM - Movie Time! intermission/dinner. Fantastic Food Available On Site.

Texas Blues Harmonica Showcase

8PM - Mike Rubin

9 PM - Paul Orta

10PM - Christian Dozzler

11PM - Sonny Boy Terry

12PM - RJ Mischo

1AM Grand Finale





Sonny Boy Terry

Producer/Founder of the Texas Harmonica Festival and Clinic, Blues harp man “Sonny Boy” Terry Jerome earned his moniker gigging and recording the past 29 years with Houston icons Johnny Copeland, Joe Guitar Hughes, Grady Gaines, Roy Head and Calvin Owens all the while fronting his own uptempo blues act and recording two excellent solo albums, Breakfast Dance and Live at Miss Ann's Playpen for the Austin based imprint Doc Blues Records. Sonny Boy Terry was featured in the 2008 book release Texas Blues: The Rise of a Contemporary Sound by author Alan Govenar.

In 1993, Sonny Boy Terry founded the 501©3 Houston Blues Society and served as president for three years. In his final year as president, HBS won the prestigious Keepin' the Blues Alive Award in 1996 for "Best Blues Organization" presented by the Blues Foundation in Memphis during the Blues Music Awards. In 2010, Terry's career came full circle when his band won the Houston Blues Society Regional International Blues Challenge scoring very high in Memphis representing Houston well while moving his career up a notch. "I am really grateful for that opportunity," "The Houston Blues Society's people were just so incredibly kind towards me" he says. "They have a wonderful group of people involved in that organization".

A noted harmonica teacher for twenty five years, Terry has long given private harmonica lessons, taught at local community colleges, high schools, for corporate retreats, and had the honor to serve as an instructor for Houston's Society for the Performing Arts' February 2012 acclaimed presentation Preserving a Legacy: A Tribute to Houston’s Blues. In 2011 Sonny Boy performed, taught and shared the stage with several of America's finest harmonica players like Adam Gussow, Jason Ricci and Jimi Lee at Hill Country Harmonica where the blues began in northern Mississippi. "Going to Mississippi was, much like spending years gigging in Houston's Wards, another of my going to the crossroads type experiences", Terry, who also took up guitar seven years ago believes it is essential to immerse yourself in the deep blues culture says, "Mississippi really helped me move my playing forward. They were mixing earthy northern Mississippi vamps and rhythms with technical sophistication of harmonica player Howard Levy of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. To me, from documentaries I have seen, it was the same way pre war jazz musicians integrated. I am starting to bring a raw form of bluesy jazz to my performances and has given me things to work on the rest of my life. I can play the latin grooves I have been messing around with much better now. And I am just at the tip of the iceberg," he claim, "I am excited about growing and maturing as a veteran blues artist. Making music is a life long journey."

RJ Mischo

Singer/Harmonica player R.J. Mischo began his music career over 20 years ago in Minneapolis. He worked with the area’s legends of the Blues scene like Muddy Waters alumni Mojo Buford and Sonny Rogers, as well as Percy Strothers & Milwaukee Slim. R.J. then led his own groups and gained a reputation as one of the region's top blues acts.

During his tenure in Minneapolis, R.J. was nominated in several categories by the Minnesota Music Academy and in 1996 won the award for Best Harmonica Player.

RJ Mischo scoops up everyday life and personal experiences and funnels them through his harp and vocals, and what pours out is the hot-blooded passion, the playful humor and high voltage energy of the blues.

R.J. was introduced to audiences worldwide when he and guitarist Teddy Morgan formed the RJ & Kid Morgan Blues Band featuring Percy Strother. In 1992 they released Ready To Go on the W. C. Handy award-winning Blue Loon Records.

1994 brought the critically acclaimed Gonna Rock Tonight also on Blue Loon Records. After several successful tours of Europe, RJ recorded Rough ’N" Tough "live in Europe "in 1996 and Cool Disposition in 1997 on the prestigious German label, Crosscut Records.

In 1998 R.J. Mischo and His Red Hot Blues Band moved to San Francisco, California and quickly established himself in the local music scene as each performance typically runs the gamut from mellow-down-easy acoustic to highly-charged full-on electric.

The CD "West Wind Blowin'" featured advances in R.J.'s writing style and guest performances by guitarist/vocalists Steve Freund and Rusty Zinn. RJ waxed three more Albums in California plus appeared on 2 volumes of Blues Harp Meltdown CD"s compilations featuriing live recording's of Mark Hummel's famous blues harmonica blow-outs with Kim Wilson, James Harman, Billy Branch, Rick Estrin, Gary Primich, Johnny Dyer, Annie Raines, Gary Smith, and Cephas & Wiggins.

His 9th CD "King Of a Mighty Good Time" 2008 was recorded "live" in the studio to best capture the energy and interplay of sympathic musicians under optimal recording conditions. His latest CD and first from Delta Groove Music, Make It Good has been release to critical review.

RJ and his Wife now reside in Fayetteville, Arkansas. R.J. works in the area with Northwest Arkansas' finest including guitar-ace Jimmy Thackery, the Table Rockers, Zack Bramhall and Arkansas legend Earl Cate. As well as touring worldwide performong on Blues Festivals and clubs with his own Red Hot Blues bands!

Paul Orta

Paul Orta (Vocal and Harmonica) was born in Port Arthur, Texas hometown of Janis Joplin, Guitar Junior and other prominent musicians. Paul was first influenced by the blues at the age of eight, when he saw Louis Armstrong on a movie. After nine years of playing with school band, Paul quit because the band never played Jazz or Blues. Within a half of a year Paul picked up the harmonica, and in three months he was in his first professional band. The name of the group was the Bayou Boogie Band, and they played and toured the Golden Triangle of Southeast Texas Beaumont, Port Arthur, Orange, and Louisiana for three years.

In 1979, Paul moved to Austin, Texas and he won the Kerrville Folk Festival harmonica contest in 1980. Later he formed the The Backdoormen with Port Arthur native Bill Arthur Jones, and with the help of bass player Eddie Stout they evolved into the Kingpins. Afterwards Paul entered the Antones University Of the Blues: playing with Blues greats Matt Guitar Murphy, Pinetop Perkins, Eddie Taylor, Sunnyland Slim, Wayne Benett, Robert Lockwood Jr, Luther Tucker, Willie Big Eyes Smith, Ted Harvey and many others, even being invited by Jimmy Rogers to play gigs and Snooky Pryor to join him on stage everytime he was at Antones. And every Wednesday night for three months Paul played with Howlin Wolf s guitar player Hubert Sumlin.

Paul also toured and recorded with Texas Guitar Tornado U.P. Wilson (U.S.A. and Europe) for over two years. Paul has also recorded over a dozen albums and also can be heard on over three dozen different compilations and various artists, albums in North & South America, Europe, Japan and Australia. In addition he has performed with second generation bluesman like Kim Wilson, Derek O'Brian, and has recorded with Tommy Shannon & Chris Layton (Stevie Ray Vaughn rythm section) with Brazilian Blues/Rock guitar player Nuno Mindelis, even performing several festvals in front of thousand fans. Past members have included Uncle John Turner (Johnny Winter), Keith Ferguson (Fabulous Thunderbirds), Mike Kindred (Stevie Ray Vaughn), Wesley Starr (Delbert Mc Clinton, Willie Nelson), Freddie Walden (Anson Funderburg), Jimmy Carl Black (Franck Zappa).

Mike Rubin’s Meat and Potatoes Harmonica Workshop

Mike Rubin's Meat and Potatoes Harmonica is getting lots of attention across the internet the past year or so. But Mike has been playing a highly professional harmonica for years. He is a monster technically sound and soulful all around great harmonica player. Sonny Boy Terry met Mike at 10,000 harmonicas where both were joined by Denver's Ronnie Shellist and Los Angeles harp player Gary Allegretto as they led the crowd at Minute Maid Park attempting to break the Guinness Book of World Records for largest harmonica ensemble only to fall short due to extra innings. "I was just impressed" Terry recollects, “Mike put on a great show later that night. He was fun and entertaining along with being an outstanding harmonica player

At 15 Mike worked as a camp counselor. His boss had a harp he let me borrow. Instead of looking at it for a minute, he went to a corner and jammed for a half an hour. 6 months later he was with a friend, Robert Schmidt, at a bookstore. There was Jon Gindicks’ Country and Blues Harmonica for the Musically Hopeless , a book that came with a tape and a harp for $14. His friend said, "There’s something flaky you would do." He had the money, which at 15 years old was a minor miracle. "You’ll never get anywhere with that." He said. The moment he played, he knew it was my thing. I was gigging a year later.

A respected Austin session musician, Mike has recorded with Ruthie Foster among other great talents He took 3 jazz improv semesters in college, Sonoma State University, on chromatic. A couple of years back he took another semester’s worth at Austin Community College playing one diatonic harmonica fully chromatically. In college he also took chorus and ear training. He plays diatonic harp (10 hole blues harp) played fully chromatically, the chromatic harp, the bass harp, mandolin, vocals, electric bass, keyboards, melodica, kazoo, various flutelike things and percussion. He loves Paul Butterfield, Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller), James Cotton and William Clarke. He writes and sings too. He’s a showman with his own solo CD out. Besides live performances, check out his CD "Call of my Harp" which is a collection of live and studio cuts of him backing up 15 of Austin’s best players. His Meat and Potatoes Harmonica Workshop is sure to be a treat any harmonica lover is sure to enjoy.

Christian Dozzler

Christian Dozzler was born into a musical family in Vienna, Austria on September 22, 1958. He started getting classical piano training when he was five years old. At age 14 he fell in love with the blues and has continued this romantic relationship ever since.

Solo piano blues and boogie woogie were the starting point and are until now a major part in Christian’s work. In 1976 he formed his first group, the "Backyard Bluesband", where he also played harmonica and guitar. 1981 was the year when he decided to make a profession out of his musical addiction, he also picked up the accordion after discovering Zydeco-music.

The years from 1984 till 1993 Christian spent as the co-frontman of Austria’s "Mojo Blues Band", and started recording and extensive touring throughout Europe. Frequently working with American blues artists on their European tours widened his musical horizon and made him an experienced player in many different styles of blues music.

From 1993 till 2000, he had his own band again, "Christian Dozzler & The Blues Wave", where he could finally bring the whole diversity of his talent into play. The program was a musical journey from Chicago Blues, Boogie Woogie, Rhythm & Blues to Swamp Blues and Zydeco, and anything in between. Especially the Louisiana music would soon become a trademark of this band. Four CDs resulted from these years. In 1999 the band recorded their fourth CD "Louisiana" right in the land of the bayous, together with some legendary figures of the Louisiana music scene.

In May 2000 Christian Dozzler accepted an offer that couldn’t be refused. He joined the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, based band of Larry Garner, moved to America, and toured the US and the rest of the world with Larry for two years.

In 2002 he settled in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, and continued his solo career. This Metroplex rightfully has the reputation of having one of the best blues scenes in the world, and is consequently the ideal home base for any blues man. In spring 2003 he released his fifth CD "All Alone And Blue", going back to his personal roots in solo piano blues and boogie woogie. The success of this album in the KNON Texas Blues Radio charts even got Christian on the cover of Southwest Blues Magazine. In 2008 the next CD "The Blues And A Half" followed with all original songs, accompanied by some of the finest Texas blues guitar players: Anson Funderburgh, Mike Morgan, Jim Suhler, Hash Brown.

2009 found Christian Dozzler and Robin Banks renewing their musical partnership to record a highly acclaimed duo CD. "Livin’ Life" reached #1 and stayed in the top 10 of the Texas Blues Radio charts for several months, and was also featured extensively on XM-Satellite-Radio.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

RJ Mischo

Since a few folks reading this blog will also attend the Texas Harmonica Festival and since RJ Mischo will be one of the headliners, I thought that I'd best share my thoughts about RJ's newest release, Make It Good, from Delta Groove Music.

I've been listening to and writing about RJ Mischo's music since his Blue Loon release with Percy Strother back in 1992. I'm pretty sure that I've written reviews on most of what he's recorded since then, and it is quite a body of blues harp blasting work. He's never disappointed the blues loving harp player in me and he certainly ain't starting now.

Make It Good is a particular strong outing and not just for the remarkable talent RJ has with a harp in his mouth, or his sometimes wise ass lyrics, or his solid vocals. He's rounded up one hell of a band with some of best at what they do. How can one go wrong with Wes Starr on drums, Ronnie James Weber on bass, and a couple of real blues "ringers" for guitarists. What could go wrong with current T-Bird slinger Johnny Moeller spitting out licks out of one channel, while ex-T-Birder, Nick Curran's doing the same out of the other. The note vocabulary of this duo is unfathomable and relentless throughout the disc. They bounce leads back and forth like Chinese ping pongers, sometimes blending lead notes together, and slipping in and out of rhythms duties seamlessly. I'd like to know who's slinging what and when, but it really doesn't matter. I want pretend that I know their styles well enough to tell one from the other, but I'd be a liar, because both have chameleonic styles to suit whatever a song demands.

Oh, and then there's Nick Connelly's remarkable organ swells and fleet fingered piano runs punctuating the proceedings all disc long. His presence is noticeable from the "get go" on the opening cut, "Trouble Belt", on which RJ warns each and everyone to stay away from his girl. He pounds the hell out of the 88s on the rawkus tune, which by the way is devoid of harp, while the guitar twins get wound up with some kind of down and dirty tones and start rippin' notes from the fret board. Connelly's organ sets the stage for the instrumental, "The Frozen Pickle", along with RJs fat tone warbles.

There IS a third guitarist lurking about on this disc too, though. RJ included two cuts with what he calls his two man blues band, The Super Reverbs. He and guitarist Jeremy Johnson provide the smoke for the title cut, and Johnson get some down right, low down, funky tones going on with "Make It Good", with RJ providing minimal backing on harp. Drummer Richard Meade is thrown into the two man mix on this one and his heavy handed bombs are integral to the drive of the song. On their second outing on "Up To The Brim", it's Johnson keeping time with bass drum and high hat while slinging his notes around, and RJ lets his dirty, nasty, fat toned, freak flag fly on the instrumental.

RJ tends to always mix things up and keep the harp chops flying with other modes than full on, amped up tones. He does some good time, acoustic, chord heavy whomping on "Papa's S.T. Special", replete with Sonny Terry whooping, but also by tossing in plenty of single note nuggets. His acoustic superiority is on full display on "Not Your Good Man", which kicks off with some dirty Muddy guitar stylings. The tone that comes out of RJ's harp elicits remarkably deep bends. Whoa! Talk about blues with a feeling. I do know that Moeller stabs the hell out of the solo, because RJ calls his name out. He rips it. On "Elevator Juice", RJ drags notes from the bottom of the barrel with a low keyed harp and then swings to some of the best high end playing that I've heard anyone play.

Wes Starr and Ronnie James strut their stuff particularly effectively on the gut bucket shufflin' of "All Over Again". Look no further for a rhythm section operating on all cylinders. They drive the hell out of the tune.
They do the same to the rumba flavored instrumental "Arumbala Part 1" (early in the disc) and "Arumbala Part 2" (the closer), which is a lesson in what ensemble playing is all about. RJ breaks out his chromatic chops, as he and Connelly's organ mix and mingle together.

I don't think that I have enough adverbs, adjectives, or superlatives to describe every harp lick that RJ brings to the table on this CD, not to mention just what the hell Moeller and Curran continuously swap with each other. I'll just say this, "Hell Yeah!". Oh, and get this one.