Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Rolling On

This is sorta kinda a continuation of my thought threads from yesterday, so I'm just rolling on. I was going to pull up the post and simply edit and add, but I do have enough swirling around the brain to just do the do again today.

I failed to mention that a few friends from my school days in Brazoria came into town expressly to watch our band play at the Brewery last Friday. My brother and his wife played host while we tried our best to entertain them. It made for a very special night for me. Word is that they'll return at some point down the road.

Let me add a link to David Barrett's marvelous website here. Lots of folks just aren't going to fork over the $17 a month for harmonica related stuff and search out similar free online offers. I balked at doing it for a long time until I decided that I wanted to see his reviews of the numerous small amplifiers and stayed a couple of months. And that's the deal. One can pay out for a year or month to month and cancel anytime. As I said in yesterday's post, I'm back to wandering around the site and finding plenty of value as I go, such as the aforementioned tube rolling vids on the Princeton. That in itself was worth a month's fee.

Barrett interviews a slew of harmonica pros and those are super. Since I re-signed up on the site to glean a bit more info to polish my tongue blocking a bit more, I went through the vid interviews just clicking on each player's responses to Barrett's question on tongue blocking and some on their preferred equipment. What I'm saying is that I haven't viewed each interview in their entirety, so I'm looking forward to watching them. At the time, I just wanted to hear what master blasters like Gary Primich, Kim Wilson, Rod Piazza, Gary Smith, etc...had to say about TBing the harmonica.

Now, and I mentioned somewhere in the history of this blog, that I curl my tongue (or UBlock) to get a single hole. Just the way I found it easier. For many years, I really thought I was an odd duck out of water, because I knew of no one else that did such. Everyone puckered or tongue blocked. UNTIL I bought an instructional video from Norton Buffalo who played harp for Steve Miller. Right off the bat he mentioned that he curled his tongue. Anyway, I felt validated. Soon, from online discussion groups such as Harp-L, I found others mentioning they did the same thing. We were rare, but there and maybe even Little Walter did a bit of it.

CUTTING to the chase as to why I'm rehashing all this is the Barrett interviews. One of my favorite present day harmonica players is John Nemeth. Immaculate vocals and his harp tone is wonderful and he said he strictly UBlocks his notes, of course except for playing octaves (which of course, takes tongue blocking to get the split notes). Said it was the way he learned and has never seen a reason to do otherwise and ain't gonna try and change now. Epiphany for me. From there, another one of my favorites, Mark Ford, said he did the same thing and can even manage slapped notes with the embouchure. Steve Guyger even said that he's trying it out, because he was told by a reliable source that Little Walter did employ the method from time to time. SO I was surprised and felt additionally validated and not quite so hell bent to perfect tongue blocking.

BACK to discussing Shoji Naito. I first became aware of Shoji during a trip to Chicago (it's documented in the archives here) and he was playing guitar with harp man Morry Sochat and the Special 20s at the seafood restaurant. They were fabulous, by the way. I later learned that he was also a great harmonica player and I had heard good things about the backing tracks he offered on his website for us harp players. I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I did download a few of those and they are wonderful. Anyway, he has been putting out a few videos on youtube during the pandemic stay at home time period and I caught quite  few of those. He plays both tasty guitar and harmonica. His tribute to Eddy 'The Chief' Clearwater, who he played with for fourteen or so years until Eddy passed in 2014, caught my eye and then my ears after I downloaded it.

Westmont to Chicago is a solid unadulterated Chi-town blues release with guest performances by several musicians well known on the Chicago blues scene. Not going to get into an extensive review (mentioned that I've moved away from doing so), but this recording is certainly notable for some of Eddy Clearwater's last recordings and reveal a veteran bluesman that hasn't lost a step, vocally or on guitar. Shoji shines on slide guitar on Ogden Avenue and lays down some tuneful harp on a few cuts, his best while conjuring the memory of James Cotton on Like The Creeper. Great release honoring one of Chicago's great bluesmen. If you lack yourself some of The Chief's stuff, go grab something from his catalogue. Anyway--'Nuff For Now.

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