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5 posts tagged with harmonica by flapjax at midnite.
Displaying 1 through 5 of 5.

Noah Lewis, blowin' that harp

The year was 1929, and Noah Lewis was blowing the hell outta the harmonica. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Sep 19, 2011 - 7 comments

Listen to the whole song, dummy!

I always loved the Quincy Jones-composed theme song to 70s sitcom Sanford and Son, but up until a few minutes ago I'd never heard the entire piece: three minutes and six seconds of delightfully infectious, playfully bright instrumental pop-funk. It's called The Streetbeater, and its creative and ever-changing arrangement includes snippets of the rarely heard bass harmonica. The piece is just a hella lotta fun. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on May 6, 2011 - 70 comments

DeFord Bailey, American musician

Within that small and very specific sub-genre of musical Americana identifiable as the train imitation, there is one amazing performance, from 1926, that set the standard: Pan-American Blues. The man who recorded it did a fine and fanciful job of evoking the sounds of a fox chase as well, and his rhythmically compelling solo rendition of John Henry stands as testament to the potential for musical greatness achievable by one man and a humble harmonica. He was an African-American who was a founding member of the Grand Ole Opry, a musical institution that we rarely (as in, never) today associate with black people, and his touching and tragic story, documented here, is one that will be of interest to those concerned with the racial, economic and socio-cultural history of American popular music. He stands at one of its more unexpected intersections: his name is DeFord Bailey. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Dec 30, 2010 - 15 comments

A tale of two Sonny Boys

It's just gotta make you feel so good to hear (and see) Sonny Boy Williamson sing and blow the harp. Keep in mind, of course, this is Sonny Boy Williamson II we're talking about here. Yes, there were two harp-blowing Sonny Boys, and here's a documentary on the legendary Sonny Boy the first: Part 1 and Part 2. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Jun 3, 2008 - 11 comments

Ben's bowls

At one time or another you've probably rubbed your finger along the rim of a glass to produce a note. In 1761 Ben Franklin took the idea further with the invention of the glass (h)armonica. The instrument enjoyed some popularity, but is believed to have caused health problems due to lead content in the glass. Performers complained of loss of feeling in their hands, some even suffered nervous breakdowns. People became very frightened of the armonica, and by 1830 it was all but extinct. But there's been some renewal of interest: they're being played, and they're being made. You can play a surprisingly good-sounding virtual version. Or listen to a charming rendition of a seasonally appropriate tune. [more links inside] Oh, and: [previously]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Dec 23, 2006 - 15 comments

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