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RON GOOD's HARP HOUSE - HARMONICA STUFF
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...yeah I have a blog, but it's not about harp...usually.
and I tucked a couple of mp3s on the bottom of this page...
I started playing blues and rock harmonica in 1965 (almost the height of the Sixties British Invasion) so I've got about 35 years of playing experience now, and my harp roots aren't anywhere near the Delta, or even Chicago. Instead, my first influences were mostly British.
The first players I noticed and tried to copy were: Paul Jones of Manfred Mann, old bluesy Peter Green with Fleetwood Mac (he played harp as well as guitar), Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, Duster Bennett, Them, featuring Van Morrison, Alan Wilson of Canned Heat, and John Sebastian of The Lovin' Spoonful (a tune called Night Owl Blues--maybe the only solid blues tune the Spoonful ever recorded--is a harmonica favorite of mine still).
I also learned tiny bits of harp stuff from the early 60s L.A. garage bands, copied all sorts of guitar riffs, and stole lotsa riffs from horn and woodwind players like Woody Herman and Pete Fountain. Well, it makes sense, me having no Delta/Chicago roots...I grew up near Vancouver BC Canada and I'm still a BC boy at heart. (Now I live in Peace River, Alberta and still play regularly).
It wasn't until a few years later that I heard folks like Paul Butterfield, Corky Siegel (with Siegel-Schwall then--a solid sorta country blues act...actually I saw Corky at the Retinal Circus in Vancouver...'68 or so. Heh heh...my first listen to Sonny Boy Williamson II was with the Yardbirds...don't it figure?
My favorites (now) of the better known players are Mark Ford (check the real audio file available here), Carlos del Junco, Paul Delay, Howard Levy, Paul Lamb and Lee Oskar, but there are lots of folks I admire (for instance, I don't recall hearing any Little Walter until I'd been playing for over 20 years. Go figure :-) but I love his playing just the same). A few other folks that I think deserve long listens are Dennis Gruenling, Studebaker John & The Hawks (exceptional songwriting, too) and Sugar Blue.
Another very special player is Mitch Weiss. He plays some incredible stuff on a specially tuned Brendan Power custom CX-10 harmonica. Now...I was really floored by a tune (available at his site) called *Stompin' By Myself* but--bottom line--his musicality and tone throughout his catalog is exceptional. Well worth the purchase--you'll hear a whack of great ideas.
I recently had a chance to hear David Gogo's album, Skeleton Key, featuring master harmonica player Gerry Barnum. All I can say is: "Wow, what a monster job." Gerry is a powerful, inventive player with a fat, fat tone. If you're looking for playing that's good enough to be an inspiration, check him out.
Even more recently, I heard Jason Ricci. Go here for some his 2005 shows at www.archive.org. Jason is a great player, pure and simple. Modern taste and attitude--and skills--coupled with a solid respect for the "classic harp masters". Jason's site pointed me to this gem. Pat Ramsey was Jason's teacher, and he's formidable.
For a great list of other and more hot players, go here.
British Columbia blues harp fans will understand this: the closest I've ever been to the Delta is Surrey :-).
Over the past years I've played often in the studio--doing ad jingles, artist demos and film scores (nothing famous)--and often live: lots of working bar band blues, country, rock and funk with smatterings of jazz and world beat. I was fortunate to have played as a guest with a full symphony orchestra (we did Summertime and a cool western swing tune).
One of my favorite experiences was appearing at the 1999 Harp Blast at Vancouver's Yale Hotel, organized by Vancouver's Sherman Doucette...the day was a treat of great harp, great camaraderie and lots of learning. Another highlight was playing the Peace River Alberta Peace Fest 2001 (quite an event, you might want to take a look...), a date I shared with my brother Don (we hadn't played together for over 20 years).
Additionally, I've taught very popular "Intro to Country & Blues Harmonica" sessions at three Provincial colleges and over the years I've taught regular lessons at a number of music stores.
Some years I've made my full living playing--and some years I've played part-time and explored other work interests. I always come back to playing harmonica though as the one constant vocational passion of my life.
What do I sound like? Well, here's a short riff from a club jam of Stormy Monday...just a few friends having fun and recorded "mics to the wind" about 10 years ago. Not my best playing by a long shot and not my worst: jamriff.mp3 . If you can't stream it, just download it (right click) and get it that way.
And here's a couple more cover tunes (favorites of mine) recorded more recently with my friend, guitarist Jamie Rosenthal, and the mixing and midi skills of my friend, Jeff McCann (who by the way has a worthwhile CD of original tunes available at jeffmccannmusic.com).
Jamming with Jamie is great fun. He moved to Prince Rupert BC a few months ago and I'll forgive him someday.