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Archive for August, 2013|Monthly archive page

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band Impacted A Generation of Young Musicians

In Blues Harmonica, Blues News on August 15, 2013 at 10:39 am

For many white Blues musicians starting out in the 1960s and drawn in by Beatlemania, entry to the genre was led by The Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

American Blues singer and harmonica player Paul Butterfield was, in the words of one of his most famous recordings, ‘born in Chicago’ in 1942 (though the song says “19 and 41”). Paul was raised in the long time home of Barak Obama, Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. He attended a private school and studied classical flute with Walfrid Kujala of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

While that is hardly a standard background for the making of a Blues legend, it was pretty difficult to avoid the Blues in Chicago in the late 1950s…MORE

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Buddy Guy: ‘Rhythm And Blues’ Titan Channels Guitar Wisdom

In Blues Guitar on August 15, 2013 at 10:33 am

On his new album, Rhythm & Blues, guitarist and vocalist sums up his approach when he sings, “People always ask me / About the blues I play / I say it just comes through me / I don’t know no other way / I go by feel.” A few songs later, in “Whiskey Ghost,” he trembles as he describes the nightly test of will with a common blues-culture demon. Then, working alongside Steven Tyler of in “Evil Twin,” he rolls through Blues 101 tales of woe about getting tangled up with the wrong kind of woman.

There are 21 songs on this two-disc set of new recordings, and by the time it’s over, Guy and his guests have visited just about every worn-out blues cliché. That would be tedious listening if he were a troubadour. But in his music, the lyrics are really just there to set the scene. The jolts start after the verses, when Guy begins to play. His guitar — a custom Buddy Guy 1989 Fender Stratocaster — is more than hot-wired. It sounds like it’ll give you a blistering burn if you get too close…MORE

How a Gang of Harmonica Geeks Saved the Soul of the Blues Harp

In Blues Harmonica on August 15, 2013 at 10:26 am

Harmonica players will suck and harmonica players will blow, but mastering the harmonica is tougher than its diminutive size and simple mechanics suggests. “The harmonica is actually pretty hard to play well,” says harmonica virtuoso Mickey Raphael, who has shared the stage with Willie Nelson for the better part of 40 years. “If you have a harmonica in the right key for a song, you can play any note and it’ll sound good. But to be able play melody on it is a whole different skill set.

Of course, it doesn’t help if your harmonica is so poorly designed that you couldn’t play it well even if you were a pro, which describes the state of the instrument from the mid-1970s until the early 1990s, when Hohner, the largest harmonica manufacturer in the world, made a single, seemingly small change to its ubiquitous Marine Band harmonica. Hohner’s bottom-line gambit was to slightly enlarge the slots through which a harmonica’s reeds vibrate. It made the instrument’s pair of reed plates cheaper to assemble but the instrument itself virtually impossible to control, thanks to all the extra air that was now being blown into and drawn out of it. Hohner eventually corrected its error, but it took a ragtag group of harmonica customizers and music geeks from around the world to force the 150-year-old German firm to face the music…MORE