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Loaded in the dog wagon, and down the road we go - Scrapper Blackwell, Penal Farm Blues

Author Topic: Expert Harmonica Players off a Rack  (Read 1718 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Expert Harmonica Players off a Rack
« on: May 21, 2014, 03:16:03 PM »
Hi all,
I was listening to Jaydee Short today and hearing him made we think how we have a couple of threads focusing on Harmonica players form the Pre-War and Post-War periods, but have never had a thread devoted to harmonica players who worked off of a rack,simultaneously accompanying themselves on guitar.  I thought it might be fun to think of as many as we could.  Just to get the ball rolling, here are a couple who come to mind.
   * Jaydee Short--He was not by any means an acrobatic sort of player, but boy did he have great tone on the harmonica, just as he did with his singing;
   * Gwin (or Gwen) Foster--He seems kind of supernatural to me in regard to what he was able to do on the harmonica, and to find out that he did it while playing the guitar at the same time makes it all the more remarkable.
Any others that you all can think of?  If we confine ourselves to one or two per post, more people can participate.
All best,
Johnm

Offline waxwing

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Re: Expert Harmonica Players off a Rack
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2014, 03:53:57 PM »
One person I'm sure you already have in mind, Johnm, would be Robert Lee McCoy (later Robert Nighthawk). I first remember you pointing him out backing Sleep John on second guitar with harp off a rack and doing a fine job of it.

Wax
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Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Expert Harmonica Players off a Rack
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2014, 08:40:26 PM »
Memphis Willie B has a wide open eerie sound on Harp in a rack.
Jessie Fuller's harp work, while pretty simple has a nice shuffling rhythmic gate,  that certainly influenced young Bob.
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Offline jpeters609

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Re: Expert Harmonica Players off a Rack
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2014, 09:02:19 PM »
Although I don't believe he pursued it much (if at all) on any later recordings, Honeyboy Edwards did lay down a couple of tracks playing guitar and rack harmonica during his Library of Congress sessions for Alan Lomax in 1942.
Jeff

Offline blueshome

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Re: Expert Harmonica Players off a Rack
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2014, 12:53:23 AM »
Doctor Ross was a master at rack harp as well as upside down left-hand guitar and bass drum.

Offline Lyndvs

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Re: Expert Harmonica Players off a Rack
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2014, 01:01:05 AM »
Joe Hill Louis

Offline oddenda

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Re: Expert Harmonica Players off a Rack
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2014, 02:42:14 AM »
Jeff -

          Honeyboy told me that he played harp on a rack back in the day (along with his guitar) and his "wife" played drums... a small band! I recorded him doing guitar/harp on one tune back in the 70s ("You're Gonna Miss Me") that was issued on his Trix LP... cut one/side two! He didn't "do" that anymore because it took too much breath!!!

Everybody else!! -

          Henry Johnson played harp with guitar at an earlier concert in 1972 at Chapel Hill, similarly to Harmonica Frank... sticking out of his mouth, no rack. He was a musical marvel - played piano at that concert, too... I recorded it all, as I did the later concerts in '73.

          Eddie Kirkland did a piece with guitar/rack harp on a piece entitled "Nora" on his first, solo LP on Trix.It was his first (and only?) time.

          Baby Tate was recorded by me playing harp and guitar - on some, the harp was held by me on top of his guitar, later I got a rack!

          Frank Edwards, of course, almost always played that way - he can be heard on his Trix LP and his Music Maker CD.

Peter B.

         

Offline jpeters609

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Re: Expert Harmonica Players off a Rack
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2014, 06:53:49 AM »
  Honeyboy told me that he played harp on a rack back in the day (along with his guitar) and his "wife" played drums... a small band! I recorded him doing guitar/harp on one tune back in the 70s ("You're Gonna Miss Me") that was issued on his Trix LP... cut one/side two! He didn't "do" that anymore because it took too much breath!!!

Peter -- your Trix LP ("I've Been Around") is my favorite recording of Honeyboy. I return to it on a regular basis. It is also exciting to hear him play electric guitar on about half of that album, something he wasn't recorded doing very much in the "re-discovery" era. We all owe you a great debt of gratitude, and that can't be said enough. Also, what I wouldn't give to have seen Honeyboy's "wife" accompany him on drums. The mind reels.
Jeff

Offline jrn

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Re: Expert Harmonica Players off a Rack
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2014, 07:47:58 AM »
Here's a cool picture of Honeyboy with a rack.
Quitman, Mississippi

Offline Mike Brosnan

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Re: Expert Harmonica Players off a Rack
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2014, 11:01:04 AM »
Can't think of any older players off the top of my head that haven't been mentioned already... But if we're going to include more contemporary players, I vote for Paul Geremia and Kit Stymee Stovepipe!

Offline Johnm

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Re: Expert Harmonica Players off a Rack
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2014, 11:05:35 AM »
Hi all,
Thanks for the contributions.  It's neat to see several names that hadn't occurred to me.  A couple more I thought of:
   * David McCarn--from the same part of the world as Gwin Foster, and another ripping guitar/harmonica player
   * Doc Watson--He didn't do it very much in performance in the last thirty years of his life or so, but Doc played fantastic harmonica off a rack at his early performances and on his early records.  Did you ever hear "Muskrat" from his second Vanguard album, "Doc Watson and Son"?  Whew!
All best,
Johnm

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Expert Harmonica Players off a Rack
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2014, 11:22:35 AM »
And of course:

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Expert Harmonica Players off a Rack
« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2014, 02:24:52 PM »
John Hammond did and entire movie score (Little Big Man) with a National and Harp in a rack and has alway plays it fantastically well
And Guy Davis floored me with his rack playing at Pete Seeger's 90th birthday tribute.
A different generation perhaps but there ya go.
And we shouldn't leave out Songs like "Hold on" on Bob's first record either.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
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Offline Johnm

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Re: Expert Harmonica Players off a Rack
« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2014, 03:19:26 PM »
Lightnin' Wells plays harmonica wonderfully well off a rack, and without the rack, too.  Didn't George Higgs play harmonica on a rack?
All best,
Johnm

Offline Pan

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Re: Expert Harmonica Players off a Rack
« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2014, 04:37:43 PM »
Hi all

This thread got me thinking about Buddy Moss, who started his career as a harmonica player, and even played it on record for the Georgia Cotton Pickers, before he took up the guitar.

I was wondering if he ever played off a rack, and I remembered that he is listed as playing harmonica on the "Atlanta Blues Legend", but it is unclear to me, from the liner notes, if he himself plays guitar while playing harmonica, or if one of the other musicians is backing him up, while he does that. Has anyone any insight on this?

Anyway, the Digital Library of Appalachia clearly has him playing harmonica off the rack, on his tune "I Wonder Do My Baby Ever Think of Me". He does an excellent job both with the harmonica and the guitar, not at all letting the harmonica playing affect his guitar playing.

http://dla.acaweb.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/berea/id/2612/rec/16

Cheers

Pan
« Last Edit: May 22, 2014, 04:39:16 PM by Pan »

 


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