Harmonica keys: A, Bb, D & E
What do Jimmy Reed, Howlin’ Wolf, Snooky Pryor and Big John Wrencher all have in common? Each of these players are great at setting the groove with the harmonica. This approach can create a really laid back vibe, like Jimmy Reed & Howlin’ Wolf, or a more driving approach like Snooky Pryor & Big John Wrencher. Join me as we listen to some classic songs from each of these artists and examine what they’re doing, so we can learn how to groove from the masters.
Howlin’ Wolf sets the groove with basically a single 1st position riff across the song “Who’s been talkin” on an E harmonica in the key of E. We will be breaking that down on both an E harp and a C harp for anyone who might not have an E harmonica. I also cover the main repeated riff in “Moanin’ at Midnight” from Wolf.
Jimmy Reed’s “Boogie in the dark” in the key of F on a Bb harmonica (2nd position). Reed plays some really cool lines in this instrumental. Jimmy Reed is great at taking simple melodic lines and working them into his tunes. Often, they’re feeding feeding off of the lyrics but sometimes, he works them into an instrumental like we find here. We will also begin with a review of Jimmy Reed’s “You Don’t Have to Go” also played on a Bb harmonica in 2nd position. A portion of this was covered in the last Jimmy Reed class but it’s so good that I want to warm up with some of the lines found in the intro.
Snooky Pryor was one of the first harmonica players that I came across. I remember purchasing a few of his CDs and just loved that I could follow along with just a bit of practice. Snooky really knew how to work the root notes to groove with a song. We’ll take a listen to and break down some ideas from “Crazy About My Baby” on a D harmonica (2nd position), “She Tried to Ruin Me” on a D harmonica (2nd position) and “Boogie Twist” which is also in the key of a A on a D harmonica (2nd position).
Finally, we will take a listen to a few of Big John Wrencher‘s songs. He really worked the pocket and put such great feel into his music. Many of his recordings are in the key of E played on an A harmonica but sometimes 1st position A harp in the key of A. I want to take a listen to “Maxwell St. Alley Blues” (A harp-2nd pos.) and “Rough tough boogie” (A harp-2nd pos.) to get a sense for how Big John used the harp to drive the music.
TICKET RAFFLE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER
March 25th-26th is the RootsDuo Fest (online) featuring Joe Filisko, Eric Noden and guests. This event is put on by Joe Filisko and Eric Noden and is not a Harmonica123 event.
One lucky winner (via random drawing), will be selected for an exclusive all day pass to the fest for Sunday March 26th, a $65 value. Sunday is the Sonny Terry harmonica and guitar workshop and Music & Conversation with Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith. If you can’t make it live, there will be a recording available for 14 days after the event ends.
*To be entered into the drawing, all you have to do is purchase a ticket to the upcoming “Groove Harp” class on Saturday March 11th and you’ll be automatically entered. Your ticket must be purchased before class on March 11th. One lucky winner will be randomly drawn in class.*
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