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fave harmonica bits

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Sam L 14 Jan 04 - 10:42 AM
GUEST,Jawbone 14 Jan 04 - 11:10 AM
PoppaGator 14 Jan 04 - 02:59 PM
Ernest 14 Jan 04 - 04:10 PM
Roger the Skiffler 15 Jan 04 - 03:52 AM
Dave Hanson 15 Jan 04 - 06:46 AM
GUEST,pavane 15 Jan 04 - 07:22 AM
fat B****rd 15 Jan 04 - 07:34 AM
Splott Man 15 Jan 04 - 07:52 AM
Peter T. 15 Jan 04 - 08:09 AM
Dave Hanson 15 Jan 04 - 09:06 AM
Roger the Skiffler 15 Jan 04 - 09:27 AM
Vixen 15 Jan 04 - 11:40 AM
RangerSteve 15 Jan 04 - 04:05 PM
Sam L 15 Jan 04 - 08:10 PM
GUEST,Don Meixner 15 Jan 04 - 08:44 PM
RichM 15 Jan 04 - 09:07 PM
Rustic Rebel 15 Jan 04 - 09:24 PM
GUEST,pavane 16 Jan 04 - 07:30 AM
Sam L 16 Jan 04 - 09:58 AM
Les from Hull 16 Jan 04 - 11:28 AM
Rustic Rebel 19 Jan 04 - 12:41 AM
PoppaGator 19 Jan 04 - 04:51 PM
Sam L 20 Jan 04 - 12:50 PM
GUEST,pavane 20 Jan 04 - 01:15 PM
Peter T. 20 Jan 04 - 02:09 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 20 Jan 04 - 03:01 PM
greg stephens 20 Jan 04 - 03:16 PM
Rustic Rebel 20 Jan 04 - 03:49 PM
Rustic Rebel 20 Jan 04 - 04:38 PM
Splott Man 21 Jan 04 - 07:48 AM
Sam L 21 Jan 04 - 10:48 AM
Les from Hull 21 Jan 04 - 03:09 PM
Peter T. 21 Jan 04 - 05:09 PM
Sam L 21 Jan 04 - 07:56 PM
johnfitz.com 21 Jan 04 - 08:55 PM
Margret RoadKnight 22 Jan 04 - 05:34 AM
MARINER 22 Jan 04 - 06:44 AM
Peter T. 22 Jan 04 - 05:34 PM
jaze 22 Jan 04 - 08:08 PM
Sam L 22 Jan 04 - 10:03 PM
Tracey Dragonsfriend 19 Apr 04 - 09:22 AM
The Fooles Troupe 19 Apr 04 - 09:26 AM
Peter T. 19 Apr 04 - 09:27 AM
Mooh 19 Apr 04 - 10:10 AM
Mooh 19 Apr 04 - 10:14 AM
Georgiansilver 19 Apr 04 - 10:18 AM
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Subject: fave harmonica bits
From: Sam L
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 10:42 AM

I've been enjoying playing racked harmonica more and more, but have to admit to myself it's an instrument that can sound fantastic in the right context, but not all the ones I like to play it in. It's fun to play fiddle reels and guitar, but I'm not sure it sounds as good as it feels. It's hard to slither and slide enough to really get what I want, which is a fiddly sound.

What are some favorite recorded harmonica things I might want to look up? Some of mine are Little Walter's Blues with a feeling bit--I don't especially like the song, but the slow chug of the harp is simple and fine. Junior Wells has a lot of off-kilter inventive bits but I can't imitate them--he has a casual attitude to ever hitting the tonic note, and my mom won't let me wander off that far. Any favorite solos or bits, blues or straight harp, anyone?


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: GUEST,Jawbone
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 11:10 AM

Johnny Cash doing 'Orange Blossom Special'. How quick can you kiss a duck?


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: PoppaGator
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 02:59 PM

Blues players like Little Walter and Junior Wells use both hands on the mouthharp to mute it and shape the sound, etc. If you're using a rack to play harmonica along with some other instrument like a guitar, you won't be able to achieve all the same effects.

Your Mom won't let you play freestyle? Poor baby! ;^)

Tell her Pops says it's OK.


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Ernest
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 04:10 PM

If you like fiddle tunes for the harmonica, try to get

"New Irish Harmonica" by Brendan Power (London-based New Zealander, website can be fond via google),

"The Trip to Cullenstown" by Phil, Pip & John Murphy (father & sons trio from Ireland),

"Westwinds" by Donald Black (Scotsman).

There are a handful of other musicians doing that sort of stuff, but I don`t have any recordings of them, so I can`t say much about them.

Yours
Ernest


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 03:52 AM

I like all the usual suspects from Jesse Fuller to Shaky Horton and Sonny Terry but recently I bought "Mama Says I'm Crazy" on Fat Possum Records (no-one can have too many Mississippi Fred McDowell records!) where he duets with Johhny Woods, a new name to me, they play wonderfully together, especially as the sleeve notes suggest Johnny was unconscious after a moonshine drinking session just before the (field) recording.
RtS
(who never progressed beyond train noises on his gob iron!)


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 06:46 AM

Paul Jones on the Manfred Mann hit, 54321
eric


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: GUEST,pavane
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 07:22 AM

Night Owl Blues, Loving Spoonful
(Think it was the B side of Summer in the city)


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: fat B****rd
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 07:34 AM

Cyril Davies "Country Line Special"


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Splott Man
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 07:52 AM

Terry Potter from Sussex on The Albions' Kicking Up the Sawdust album.

Anything by Nashville Session man Charlie McCoy, that's him with Area Code 615 doing the OGWT theme.

Woody could blow a mean harp too.


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Peter T.
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 08:09 AM

Jimmy Reed and Sonny Boy Williamson II are not exactly easy, but the basic ideas are pretty easy to get down, and they are famous stylists.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 09:06 AM

Bob Dylan aint half bad.
eric


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 09:27 AM

Weird coincidence, Charlie, while reading your post I'm listening to last week's Paul Jones Show via the internet and he's playing ,....YES! Cyril Davies Countryline Special!

RtS


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Vixen
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 11:40 AM

My dad playing just about anything...

He plays the melody over rhythm chucks and it sounds as if he's got about 5 instruments going at once. My favorites are Red Wing and Nellie Gray.

A long-time friend of my dad's, Bill, playing Ravel's Bolero.

I've gotta record them...

V


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: RangerSteve
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 04:05 PM

For fiddle tunes, you might be able to find a used copy of the Crook Brothers album on Starday at a used record store. Or try County Records or Document Records for their series of Old-Time Nashville musicians, both feature Dr. Humphrey Bate and the Crook Brothers, both bands have great lead harmonica.


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Sam L
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 08:10 PM

thanks y'all, some stuff I don't know.

You've got me there, Poppa. Even when I don't use a rack I don't do much about hand effects, though it's easier to do mouth effects because of the grip. Some guys hold a mike right to the harp and do all this hand stuff--if it really does much to the sound it's over my head. I think hand-effects may be just a little over-blown, so to speak. But I'm probably wrong.

   I look forward to hearing these reels, because I suspect they sound stilted when I do them, and I'd like to hear what good people do. But they're a fine workout on a short-scale instrument--I can usually talk myself into doing what I like, despite the ends.


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: GUEST,Don Meixner
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 08:44 PM

Pavane, exactly.

John Sebastian is an under appreciated harmonica god. Saw him jam with Paul Butterfield once shortly before Paul Butterfield died.

Outstanding


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: RichM
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 09:07 PM

Mike Stevens is more than amazing---he's a virtuoso, an innovator, and more.

Hear him at www.mikestevensmusic.com/


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Rustic Rebel
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 09:24 PM

James Cotton has a style I've always liked. He does this three note turn around thing in a lot of his tunes like Cotton Blues for example. He started out learning his style from Sonny Boy Williamson and later played with Muddy Waters (12 years).
I would like to mention Pat Hayes also. He plays with Lamont Cranston Blues Band. A Mpls.MN based band. Pat plays with a fever when he has the harp in his hands. He does this number called E-jam that makes my entire body ache with a joy. Pat is so smooth and expressive on the harmonica, it is always a delight to hear him.
I have many more favorites I could mention. Charlie Musselwhite, Sugar Blue, Gary Primich, to many to mention!
Rustic


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: GUEST,pavane
Date: 16 Jan 04 - 07:30 AM

I used to play a bit myself, and was once asked if I had considered making it a career. Didn't see too many openings for professional harp players though! Not in the same league as those mentioned above, I will admit. I usually stick to squeeze boxes these days.


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Sam L
Date: 16 Jan 04 - 09:58 AM

RR, I've been listening to Cotton lately. His style is what I think of as a quintessential blues sound, but with masterful restraint. It's a funny thing about harp to me that many of the least impressive-sounding things are hardest to do well. Little fills that carry an idea, but don't intrude. It's easy to do too much.


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Les from Hull
Date: 16 Jan 04 - 11:28 AM

From the other side of the Pond, I thought I'd mention Duster Bennett - sadly no longer with us but his recordings are. Whem he did his 'one-man blues band' with guitar, bass drum, hi-hat, racked harmonica and vocals, he would have been one of the best rack blues harmonica player playing.

His playing without a rack was sublime though. Favourite track? - guesting on Fleetwood Mac's (they used to be a blues band you know) Trying so hard to forget on the Mr Wonderful album.


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Rustic Rebel
Date: 19 Jan 04 - 12:41 AM

Fred, I agree what you say about James Cotton. He does have a restraint to his playing. I think now that he's getting on in years he probably isen't doing back-flips up on stage anymore! As a matter of fact he isn't touring much anymore these days.
I just watched a documentary on John Lee Hooker and it showed quite a bit of one gig. On stage he had Charlie Musselwhite and another back up harp player that I didn't recognize but the two sounded good together.
That you don't see happening too much, where you have two harp players on stage. Last year I did a blues fest and my friend and guitar player and I did a harp duet together that was nice. I think we did "Got my mojo workin'" but I'm not remembering for sure!
Rustic


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: PoppaGator
Date: 19 Jan 04 - 04:51 PM

Fred, I may indeed have been fooled by all those theatrical hand gestures, over all these years of watching mouthharp players -- I never learned to play the thing myself, so my opinions must be taken with a grain of salt. I carried one around in my guitar case for years, but never got past using it exclusively to tune up my strings and to lend to real harp players who wanted to play along with me.

Jesse Fuller and Bob Dylan are the two most outstanding rack-harmonica players that I can think of. I haven't heard them (or anyone else) get *quite* the same effects that the best hand-held harp-only blues players can produce. So I still think there might be something to all that flashy hand-wringing.

I'm still waiting to hear more about your mom and her restrictions on your improvisational style!


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Sam L
Date: 20 Jan 04 - 12:50 PM

well, I'm just not good enough to pull off really odd things like Junior Wells. I can make the sounds I hear other players do, and the usual trills and fast bits aren't hard, but popping in and out very discreetly is.
   I also think Dylan does what he does very effectively, but it's loose and street-noisy. Like his voice--he knows his idiom so well he gets more musicality than you'd think possible from his instruments.

Guess I'm trying to learn what the essence of my using a harmonica is--I like that sax-like slither, and those odd harmonies that you might not logically choose, but you'll add in some stray notes just because they're there.

For example, I used to have trouble doing that blues guitar hammer-flutter thing, so I decided it was a cliche and I wouldn't do it on principle. But as you get past technical stumblings you have to think about things like that again. I'm getting better with the racked harp, and I'm trying to get past impressing myself, see if I can learn to really use it nicely.


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: GUEST,pavane
Date: 20 Jan 04 - 01:15 PM

The 'hand wringing' does have a marked effect on the sound, which cannot be obtained with racked harp.

Not having looked into the maths, I assume that the difference comes about because the hands filter out some (higher) frequencies and also modify the total volume, allowing vibrato. There is no effect on the pitch.


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Peter T.
Date: 20 Jan 04 - 02:09 PM

Some third position and minor harmonica playing is also worth learning or listening to. A Canadian harmonica player, Clela Errington, is a master of this.

yours, Peter


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 20 Jan 04 - 03:01 PM

I can't stand the sound of a harmonica in a rack or holder.

It's nothing compared to a hand held one. Listen to Charlie McCoy, one of Nashville's best.


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: greg stephens
Date: 20 Jan 04 - 03:16 PM

There is a mention of John Murphy earlier in the thread. I first heard him last summer in an after hours pub session in Co Wexford, and it was stunning. if you're interested in reels on the harmonica, certainly have a listen to him (and his dad).
    Having said that, the title "fave harmonica bits" took me right back to when I was 12 or 13 and used my hardearned pocket money to buy my first Leadbelly record, a green Melodisc EP. And on this record was "On a Monday", and between two of the verses there is an amazing bit of chugging from Sonny Terry. The combination of Leadbelly flat out on his 12-string and Sonny Terry's harmonica matching him rhythmically has been singing in my heart ever since.


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Rustic Rebel
Date: 20 Jan 04 - 03:49 PM

Using a rack is hard for me. I can't get the sound I like to play because I can't move the harp. I suppose if I keep trying I could get it, and that's what I've been working on. Another thing I have noticed and not checked into, is when harp players hook up to their own amps and some have these little vibration boxes or what ever they are to produce different sounds, echos, etc. I am interested in knowing what it is they use on stage. I have only played through the mike.
Rustic


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Rustic Rebel
Date: 20 Jan 04 - 04:38 PM

Ok to answer my own wondering, I finally went and looked up harp equipment. There are special effects mics,and this thing called Pod 2.0. It's a recording amp that gives you 16 effects and just a small box that goes through the pa system. Like I said I noticed this when I watch some players pushing buttons and then I noticed the different sounds that were made. None the less you still need to be a good harp player, it's not like these things play for you!


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Splott Man
Date: 21 Jan 04 - 07:48 AM

If you've got a moustache, try and get a rack that holds the harp forward of the frame to avoid unwanted plucking of hair. I learned this from painful experience.

Also I remember seeing John Sebastian in concert on TV years ago, and he had an industrial sized rack that slotted in the top of his guitar.


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Sam L
Date: 21 Jan 04 - 10:48 AM

This is giving me some good things to look into, thanks.

I do know that hand stuff has effects, and even hand stuff you can't see has effect. But I don't do anything but grip and open/close, I can't hear anything else. I don't know--somehow these musician discussions of what you can and can't do one way or another always sound like someone's selling something. Tired of having to do that palm-muted bass line? you could get another guitar player to do it for you! And that's not all! They're much better than you! Now what would you expect to pay?

   I have to agree, Martin G, usually racked harmonica is too noisy and littered for me. There's something about it that defeats better judgement, like how a painter can't seem to use an airbrush without starting to do "airbrush art." People tend to get carried away, and me too. It's the only thing I've ever picked up fairly easily. Any sane person would've given up my other efforts for lack of aptitude.

I'm not sure what 3rd position is. For some minor things I like a C harp for Dm, whatever you'd call that. For C in Am, sometimes I dive-bend to the missing 6th in the low end, but it depends on the tune I guess.


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Les from Hull
Date: 21 Jan 04 - 03:09 PM

Think of the 'hand stuff' as a wah wah pedal (and you can do more with a wah wah than just rock it back and forward). You also get a 'vibrato' like sound with it.

And I don't much like rack harmonica either. I'm surprised at people enjoying Dylan's playing so much, I though that the intro to 'Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts' was a bad joke, as much as I love the song and the singer. I'm looking forward to hearing some of the players mentioned though. But I repeat, Duster Bennett could play excellent stuff with or without a rack.


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Peter T.
Date: 21 Jan 04 - 05:09 PM

Dm in C is third position. There are of course also minor harmonicas you can buy.

I think Dylan is an interesting player-- something he is good at is substitutions. I often wonder where he learned that stuff.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Sam L
Date: 21 Jan 04 - 07:56 PM

What do you mean by substitutions Peter T? Educate me a little further, please.


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: johnfitz.com
Date: 21 Jan 04 - 08:55 PM

Past "Hatrack" Gallagher is, for me, the harmonica master of New England. He plays it all, from blues to bluegrass. Hatrack's Web site


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Margret RoadKnight
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 05:34 AM

Norton Buffalo - yay!!
And John Mayall's "Room To Move"


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: MARINER
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 06:44 AM

I have to agree with Greg Stephens', John Murphy is well worth a listen. His late father Phil was the master of traditional harmonica playing and John has proved a worthy succesor. There is another virtuoso player who pays the occassional visit to Carrig-on-Bannow , Co. Wexford (home of the Murphy's)called Mick Kinsella, who has recorded with Brendan Power, and is without doubt one of the foremost harmonica players in the world, in any style.


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Peter T.
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 05:34 PM

Hmm. A little hard to explain, and I will probably get it wrong. It is like the rules about being able to substitute one chord for another -- like the I-VI-iii; IV-VI-ii; V-iii-vii chords, because there are notes from one in the other. You can hear Dylan doing this in some of his accompaniments when he hasn't got the chord he needs in the harmonica. Can't think of an example at the moment.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: jaze
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 08:08 PM

Neil Young's "On The Beach" lp contains some great playing.


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Sam L
Date: 22 Jan 04 - 10:03 PM

Thanks, PeterT, that's sort of what I thought you meant, although I'd have been at a loss to name it.

One of the first things I ever learned on a rack with guitar was the Talking Heads Naive Song (this must be the place) which uses some bends but is nicely jangly and "open" feeling. It sounds pretty good, I think. I just enjoy doing it so much, I think if I use the sound for just the right things, I can keep it tasting good. I do more blues stuff now, but still I'm vaguely aware that there are limits to how much of the fun comes through to anyone listening.
But I inflict a few tunes that are fun to play, like In The Mood, on small children who usually can't tell it's sort of a grotesque parody.


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Tracey Dragonsfriend
Date: 19 Apr 04 - 09:22 AM

Speaking of hand effects, as above, my Grandad used to play using a glass for echo and tremolo effects...


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 19 Apr 04 - 09:26 AM

My fave harmonica bit is the blonde who plays in that band with the 3 guitars and the banjo.


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Peter T.
Date: 19 Apr 04 - 09:27 AM

Suddenly realised that the weird sound that Donovan has in "Turquoise", which has been in my head for 30 years, is a harmonica up very high. A new favourite bit.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Mooh
Date: 19 Apr 04 - 10:10 AM

J. Geils Band with Magic Dick, especially the Full House record. Damn thing almost sounds like a sax. Also John Popper, and


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Mooh
Date: 19 Apr 04 - 10:14 AM

oops, Carlos Del Junco, Downchild Blues Band...

You know, even Neil Young, in a raw demented sort of way works for me.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: fave harmonica bits
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 19 Apr 04 - 10:18 AM

Agree with Eric on this...some of Dylans stuff is great...his harmonica playing in "I want you" is the one that comes to mind first but much of his harmonica is great....


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