How to Play the Blues Harp

Slapheads Unite!! Eddie Martin (Right) with Perry Foster at the highly successful Upton Blues Festival 2008.

Perry was Sonny Boy Williamson's minder during his visits to the UK in the 1960s and he claims to have the same 14-hole Echo SuperVamper that Sonny Boy used to play "Bye-Bye Bird. He also turned Robert Plant onto the blues but that's another story.

Source Material - Live Performers

On the world stage, top players to go and see include Kim Wilson, Rod Piazza, Charlie Musselwhite and Jerry Portnoy but typing blues harmonica in the search box of YouTube will reveal a wealth of good players from the US and elsewhere. See You Tube Links for a selection

In the UK, the best known performers are Paul Lamb and Paul Jones playing with the Blues Band or with Dave Kelly.

However, there are many other UK-based players who deserve your support and these include:

Paul Jones either with the Blues Band or Dave Kelly.

Lee Sankey here seen with Ian Siegal on the Howling Wolf version of "Going Down Slow".

Pete G (Pete Welland) and the Magnitones. Pete has fantastic tone (truly Magni) and is a really good singer. Here he is playing Sonny Boy Williamson's classic "Trust My Baby" at the 2007 NHL Autumn Festival

Giles Hedley (with or without the Aviators) Described by Clyde Stubblefield, James Brown's legendary drummer, as "the funkiest man I've heard in Europe", Giles is vocally the closest vocally to Howling Wolf that you may see in a long time. As well as being a very powerful vocalist, he plays a number of guitars including a home-made lap steel guitar as well as rack harp using a home-made microphone which gives tremendous punch to his playing. He is also famous for playing a harp with his right nostril which is a sure fire way to stop people asking him if they can have a blow. Here he is at the NHL Autumn Festival 2005

Eddie Martin. Another exponent of rack harp and a favourite of the NHL, Frome-based Eddie travels extensively in the UK and is well worth seeing both for the intensity of his harp playing and his stinging guitar.

Here he is at the NHL playing a beautiful version of Robert Johnson's Little Queen of Spades that really makes my eyelids prickle.

Another Giles, Giles King, recently laid low by a back problem,who plays with Willie and the Poorboys. Here he is playing at the 2008 NHL Spring Festival in Birmingham

(there's a subtext developing here - have you spotted it yet?).

And finally, a rare treat at the NHL Spring Festival 2008 - no prizes for guessing who is trading licks with Ricky Cool

Paul Jones duetting with Tom McGuinness on the Main Stage under the Bridge at the Upton Blues Festival 2008


How to Play the Blues Harp

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