beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > favourite solos
favourite solos
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4401 posts
Jan 07, 2017
3:13 AM
On Tuesday night i was approached and congratulated on a solo i played in 'Cant hold out' (i think its also known as talk to me baby). the song is a medium shuffle.
at first i couldn't recall what i'd played but then i remembered. i just pinched the solo that starts at 2'18" in this (from memory a C harp in 2nd, though i play it on an A harp) :

that is gratifying because it is one of my very favourite 12 bar solos in blues harmonica. 26 seconds that excited me the first time i heard it and continues to do so.

i have a friend who rates big Walter's solo from 'walking by myself'. i like that one too. I also really enjoy the solo from 'My Babe'.

what are others' favourite solos? i'm thinking about 12 or 24 bars. not instrumentals.

Last Edited by SuperBee on Jan 11, 2017 3:36 AM
34 posts
Jan 07, 2017
7:11 AM
Looking forward to this thread!

I really like SBW2'S "BYE, BYE, BIRD."

I believe it was Rick estrin that I first heard play it. Then researching, I found yukiharps "getting out of town/bye bye bird" solo amalgamation. Although I think both estrin's and Yuki's may be more of instrumentals. So this may have failed your criteria Super. Although Yuki's is titled "solo," ha!
If you don't cut it while it's hot......
2019 posts
Jan 07, 2017
7:48 AM
Charlie Musselwhite's Help Me. At 1m 18s. 12 bars of knock-your-socks-off 3rd position.

Last Edited by MindTheGap on Jan 07, 2017 7:50 AM
251 posts
Jan 07, 2017
7:56 AM
Lots of favorites, but here are a couple that are always near the top:
"Mean Old Train" Papa Lightfoot from the early '50s
"My Love Is Here to Stay" Sam Myers
Add: "The Thrill is Gone" Twelve Bar Blues Band.
Phil Pennington

Last Edited by Fil on Jan 07, 2017 8:00 AM
2020 posts
Jan 07, 2017
9:18 AM
Fil - love that 'mean old train' solo! New to me. There's the question about swing on the MF, this could be the answer :)
252 posts
Jan 07, 2017
10:16 AM
MTG, yes. It jumps. It's one of those that when I first heard it I thought with a little work I could do it. Turns out that with a lot of work I can do maybe some of it. But that 'some of it' is fun, and growing slowly.
Phil Pennington
452 posts
Jan 07, 2017
3:56 PM
This is one of my favorite solos. I've cued up the video to start right at the solo (around 3:10):
Marc Graci
YouTube Channel
4403 posts
Jan 07, 2017
4:15 PM
yeah thanks for that Mirco. ho ho ho merry christmas crackers.
2021 posts
Jan 08, 2017
1:48 AM
Ha ha mirco! Careful you'll open the flood gates... :)

Here's a big fav of mine, Fabulous Thunderbirds with Kim Wilson of course, Can't Stop Rocking. You should like this one Bee, it's 1st position as I remember.

Strictly it's an intro at 35s, and a solo proper after 2m. Then an extended solo/outro after 3m 20s.

Last Edited by MindTheGap on Jan 08, 2017 4:51 AM
2074 posts
Jan 08, 2017
8:03 AM
Its hard for me too think of specific solos for some reason. I know there's a ton that i love, but i just can't think of them right now. Ill try to remeber them as im listening to them.

Some of my favorite to play are Ronnie Shellist from Knockin, One Day, Found You, Eyesight, etc. Off of his Til Then Album. They are all pretty long though. Over 1min .. some over 2 mins.

I also like James Cottons Solo from Boogie Thing on 100% Cotton. He has a bunch of high energy solos on there. Not very complex, but they hit.

I know i can think of better ones than that ... ill keep adding as i hear em.
2075 posts
Jan 08, 2017
8:08 AM
Ronnie Shellist Knockin Solo
159 posts
Jan 10, 2017
6:50 PM
Killa - I transcribed / tabbed a fair bit of Boris' Hip Hop Jam (3rd pos) on my web page (BeatTab) today in case you are interested. You mentioned that you were before... I like Boris's stuff. So well articulated. Wish I could go at his speed though. Damn clean stuff. The nuances of his playing I find very interesting. Wish he would do more.
Boris' Hip Hop Jam 3rd pos
Is a favorite of mine. One of a few.
4420 posts
Jan 11, 2017
12:39 AM
no doubt boris is an impressive player, but I think that is outside my definition of 'solo', as distinct from 'instrumental'.
I've been learning SBW2 (16 bar progression) 'too young to die'. It's not so very complicated and is tabbed rather well by Glen Weiser in 'masters of the blues harp'. both the intro and the later (edit to correct: not a 12 bar song) 16 bar solo are worthwhile insights into sbw2 style.
this is a G harp, 2nd position.

But in reviewing sbw2 songs I heard mr downchild or is it just 'downchild'? Anyway, that is a smash and I must learn it. I think I'll be able to use it as is but I'm sure the licks will be able to be used in combination with other things. F harp, 2nd position. SBW2 was a real master of the F harp i think

Last Edited by SuperBee on Jan 11, 2017 1:13 PM
2029 posts
Jan 11, 2017
1:32 AM
Yes, we are straying into instrumentals! We should have another thread for that. Let's keep this one at say 24 bars or less? :)

In which case Killa you can choose your fav Ronnie's 24 bars.

...just went back to check that Can't Stop Rockin solo is just 12 bars. Ha.

Last Edited by MindTheGap on Jan 11, 2017 1:34 AM
2081 posts
Jan 11, 2017
9:53 AM
Man ... i still can't think of any great solid is this length. When my mind goes to solos they are all pretty long .... or Straight up instrumentals.

I can't get Lollipop Mama out of my head. For Some Reason Ive been on a William Clarke kick.

Bee this is a great thread. I'm going to start one on the MF. Just to hopefully get some better responses. I love all the sonny boy bits you mentioned. Hes killer.

Shaganappi ... thanks ill check that out.
254 posts
Jan 11, 2017
1:07 PM
Here are a couple more. The video showed up on a thread a few months ago. Harry Manx on string and Steve Warrener on harp. Two good voices as well.
Phil Pennington
4423 posts
Jan 11, 2017
7:28 PM
Thanks everyone for contributions so far. keep em coming!
Hi Havoc, Bye Bye Bird is a great piece of work which i've toyed with occasionally over the years but never really taken to a point where i felt it was presentable. mainly because i didn't have a beginning, middle and end, and also more mainly because i thought my playing was mediocre. I feel like if you are gonna present a solo piece in a band setting it had better be good, there needs to be a wow factor of some sort. i have seen people present BBB with such 'wow' elements, but i just have 'meh' elements so far.

MTG, Help Me is one of 'my' numbers and i've been playing it about 4 years. its a very popular song with harp players of course and at least 2 others in my small city present it. i do a version with the famous SBW2 solo, and then i throw in a Jr Wells type solo. i think a 3rd position solo is a great idea. its one of the songs where I'd very much like to be able to play several different things because its so familiar to people. and the song is well-suited to 3rd of course.
Fil, Papa Lightfoot is a good choice in my book. i was not familiar with Mean Old Train. i remember the 1st time i heard Wine, Women, Whisky and tried to play it. Thats definitely a sound i aspire to have in my bag. i grab a little lick from PL and throw into my solo for 'Caldonia', unlikely as it may seem.
I haven't heard your other choices either, yet. I'll start tracking them down soon.

Killa_Hertz, I am gonna check out those you have mentioned. I know Ronnie Shellist has a lot to teach me and i always enjoy his work. Cotton is on my radar and i've got to come up with something for a piano-less version of Rocket 88. I don't play much drawn from JC yet, but i know he can teach me a lot. I just use his Hard Again approach to I Want To Be Loved and his high end 'how long can a fool go wrong' licks as a generic high end template.
BTW, i realise i haven't yet got around to putting anything down on reading those transcriptions. i have been doing quite a bit of it lately. Remind me; do you have both the David McElvy "Blues Harmonica Collection" and the Glenn Weiser 'Masters of the Blues Harp'?

Oh yeah and William Clarke. i just haven't analysed any of his work yet. I have a couple of albums which i like and must take some more time to dig into. i think its his reputation as a chromatic player which makes me skip over his stuff sometimes. must get over that.
160 posts
Jan 12, 2017
9:51 AM
Well, then maybe Dov Hammer with his Secret Smile solo at 1:10 to 2:00 using 1st pos on A harp. Somewhat standard stuff but very well done.
Hammer - Secret Smile

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