October 7, 2016
Martin Lang has backed up Chicago blues icons
for decades. He first learned what it takes to be a real-deal player by spending time with blues masters on the West and South Sides of the city. He talks about what he learned by having contact with these great blues artists, how its essential to have "weight" as harmonica player in both soloing and accompanying others, and his overall blues philosophy.
The Kickstarter campaign to
get me to Nashville to interview three of the greats: Charlie McCoy,
Buddy Greene and
Jelly Roll Johnson is well on its way to being funded. However, there's just a few days left! Contributing $10 or more is the
only way to get this exclusive content and $25 contributions get you a
Harmonicast coffee mug!
September 16, 2016
Phil Alvin, in addition to being harmonica player, is an incredible singer, advanced set theorist and great storyteller. His powerful voice was first heard by much of the public in the Blasters, a band he and his brother Dave Alvin founded in the late 70s. This, after years of tutelage performing alongside Big Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker, Lee Allen and other musical greats Dave and Phil met while growing up in Downey, California. Phil talks about taking harmonica lessons from Sonny Terry, his years of study in mathematics, his latest duo albums Common Ground and Lost Time with his brother and their potential follow-up recordings.
This is also week 2 of the Kickstarter campaign
to get me to Nashville to interview three of the greats: Charlie McCoy, Buddy Greene and Jelly Roll Johnson. Contributing $10 or more is the only way to get this exclusive content and $25 contributions get you a Harmonicast coffee mug!
September 10, 2016
Karen Mantler is a singer, songwriter, pianist, organist AND chromatic harmonica player who got her professional start at age 10 playing glockenspiel with Carla Bley (the jazz composer and arranger who also happens to be her mother). She's made a handful of wonderful records including her most recent, Business is Bad which showcases her highly personal, often humorous and sometimes deeply touching lyrics along with her piano and harmonica playing. We talk about her musical upbringing, her frustrations as a major label signee in the early 2000s, how she came to discover and fall in love with the sound of the harmonica, her recordings with Robert Wyatt and much more.
I've also launched a Kickstarter campaign
in order to fund a trip to Nashville I'm hoping to make in early November to interview three harmonica greats: Charlie McCoy, Buddy Greene and Jelly Roll Johnson. All three have agreed to be interviewed for Harmonicast and if it's funded through Kickstarter, I'll head to Music City to meet up with them. You can contribute here
August 23, 2016
Yuri Lane combines beatbox and harmonica, traveling the globe bringing this art form to streets, clubs, and theaters. As an actor, his one-man plays use beatbox, acting, mime, dance and harmonica to tell a story. He's a compelling performer and a fine vegetarian cook too! We talk about being one of the first performers to "go viral" on YouTube, his fusion of beatbox and harmonica, and how his years as a child actor inform his career today.
The news of Toots Thielemans' passing at age 94 came just as I was putting this episode together and includes a tribute to the man and his music. We'll spend more time in a future episode celebrating his contribution to harmonica and music in general, which cannot be overstated.
July 2, 2016
Mickey Raphael's playing has been an essential element of the music of Willie Nelson and Family for more than 40 years. He's also performed alongside some of the biggest names in music and has recorded on sessions for many of them. We talk about his open, organic approach to performing with Willie, his ever-expanding influences, his love road biking when he's on the road, and the new Highwaymen collection he produced.
June 16, 2016
John Kerkhoven is a great player from a great harp town, Montréal. In his visit to Chicago where he came to jam, meet other players and teachers we sat down in the studio for a conversation about his new CD from his band BluesReel, his other band KSB, how he got his start, his love of Mose Allison, short story writing and much more!
May 31, 2016
Peter Hope-Evans has performed with Who songwriter and guitarist Pete Townshend since the 1970s but they've been friends even longer. He's also been a part of the blues duo Medicine Head, guitarist Robbie McIntosh's band, and the Blues Club Band. Peter's unbridled playfulness and joy is apparent not only in his music making but in how he speaks about making music with Townshend over the years, learning from harmonicas (or "organs of the mouth" as he calls them), and his ongoing practice of being in the present moment.
May 10, 2016
Episode 10 - April 10, 2016 If you don't know Graham Nelson's harmonica playing, you should. He's performed with everyone from Lonnie Brooks to Gypsy jazz guitar great Alphonso Ponticelli to Donovan (whom he has a long history with being the son of Donovan's longtime road manager). We talk about his music-filled upbringing, his love of Middle-eastern and other ethnic musics, and his penchant for not only customizing harmonicas but making his own flutes.
April 14, 2016
Marc Lempert is the director of the feature-length documentary Pocket Full of Soul, a "comprehensive exploration of the culture, the players, the politics, and of course the music" associated with the harmonica. He and the producers of the film are offering special free screenings on World Harmonica Day, April 18. We talk about what it was like interviewing the numerous star players, learning about the instrument and its community, and his personal transformation in making the movie.