Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > playing in public
playing in public
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1 post
Feb 14, 2008
5:14 PM
First id like to say thank you Adam.I want you to know what a great thing you are doing.You are helping people to learn something you love that may not get to learn any other way.Ive been playing for 6 months ive learned a lot but can seam to put it all togeter.when did you guys go out and jam in public and is that when it all stated coming together or does it just take more time

Last Edited by on Feb 14, 2008 5:15 PM
2 posts
Feb 14, 2008
5:16 PM
First id like to say thank you Adam.I want you to know what a great thing you are doing.You are helping people to learn something you love that may not get to learn any other way.Ive been playing for 6 months ive learned a lot but can seam to put it all togeter.when did you guys go out and jam in public and is that when it all stated coming together or does it just take more time

Last Edited on 14-Feb-2008 5:15 PM
5 posts
Feb 15, 2008
10:20 AM
I joined a harmonica club named HOOT. They get together and play once a month. Most of the players are chromatic players and I am definately the only one interested in blues.
My first attempt was to Play the Song "Easy". I was terrified and it was a disaster. I stopped playing and started again. The 3rd time through the 12 bars I finally got it. They understood completely, they had all been there before.

The best thing about it is that I learned that just because I can play it in the chair at home does not mean I "own" it. I am going to play something easier next time but I will nail Easy sooner or later for them.
Down the road I got to go
1 post
Feb 15, 2008
11:50 AM
anyone out there have tabs for grateful dead songs?
1 post
Feb 15, 2008
3:33 PM
Dewey, By any chance is the HOOT club in Roseville, Ca.?
4 posts
Feb 15, 2008
5:33 PM
Here in Richmond,Va. I have been playing around at some open mic nights and having a blast. I love being out there. I do tend to improvise a lot I don't know any songs well enough to solo so if someone wants a certain song I can't play it but if the band knows it I can kick right in and have a blast. Right or wrong blowin' the harp with a band is the best feeling next to sex I could ever have.
3 posts
Feb 15, 2008
6:19 PM
Thanks so just go out and do it and who cares what they think.just have a good time I think
7 posts
Feb 15, 2008
8:32 PM
Hey SantaRosa.

No it is a club in Texas.
Harmonica Organization Of Texas.
The one I go to is in Amarillo.
Down the road I got to go
1 post
Feb 16, 2008
3:20 PM
Loud 4, I am not Adam but could offer you some advice on "it all comming together". It takes lots of work, long hours in the woodshed, and focusing on one thing at a time. Then once you feel comfortable doing the things you master in the woodshed you need to find a record or a guitar player to play along with. You will see after doing it a few times that is just starts to gel. You will do things without even thinking and you will amaze yourself at how well you play sometimes. I am in my 7th month and it has started to happen for me. I went from mary had a little lamb to playing in 2 bands. Keep the faith and get the most out of the woodshed.
Feb 17, 2008
5:53 AM
I've been playing just a few years but got lucky enough to be invited to play with a local acoustic country blues guy...learning with your feet to the fire is the great traditional way to do it. If it's not going well, make a face,hold a wailing note and hopefully fool the casual observer and get your ass back to the woodshed!
I've discovered first hand that these blues ain't polite and you will get your butt handed to you at some point but that is the beauty. The challenge brings out your passion.
I love this!!!!!
4 posts
Feb 17, 2008
11:50 AM
thanks guys for all the help,I plan to keep with it.I dont ever quit any thing I really like .
Harmonica Slim
11 posts
Mar 04, 2008
7:52 AM
Loud 4, It helps if you play another instrument as well. If you have poor knowledge in musictheory you might consider to work on that. The piano is a very good and logical isntrument to work with especially if you are working on bends and want to nail them in tune, just play the notes on the piano and then follow with the harp when you have the notes in your head. Notice, you don't need to be a pianoplayer just learn the keyboard and you have a good help! Apart from that start to play with someone, this will help you very much (important). Take care and good luck!
17 posts
Mar 26, 2008
1:37 PM
In an earlier post in this thread I said I played and it was a disaster. I redeemed myself last night. I played the Duh Tucka riff. (Gussow Lesson 9 or 10? Sonny Terry) and had everyone stomping their feet. The average age of the group is about 70 so it was very cool. That song just makes every one happy. Blues = happy? well yes in this case.
Down the road I got to go
2 posts
Apr 03, 2008
5:52 AM

Personally I am not sure if you're ready to play out at the 6 month mark. It does take time. But if you are determined, learn at least one song. Wether it's something you made up or something easy like Love Me Do (Beatles) or Low Rider (War). Then play that one song and then get off stage. (Be ready that they may want you to sing.)
I have been playing for a long time, on and off. I started getting very serious about 6 years ago, formed a band, played out, made a CD, Boston area radio play. But before I was in that band, I played at every chance I could. At jams, sitting in a couple numbers, whenever, whereever. I have also had some crash and burn moments that would certainly humble even the stoutest.
Keep in mind that it doen't happen overnight, nor over a few months.
When I started playing, I played at parties and stuff. Always carried it with me and played, played , played. While walking, driving, sitting, etc.
One of the things you should learn is the different techniques like call and response, fills, rhythm, leads. All of this makes for more diverse playing. Anyone can do a call and response that will sound decent (provided you're in the right key), but that will get old after a while. So try learning some fills and rhythms or some solo leads. Check out the way the harp carries the tune on songs like Petty's Last Dance for MaryJane or Springsteens The River. You may notice I lean on rock a bit. Well, my experience is that many jams aren't blues. I played last week and played my original (Chipper's Boogie), Low Rider, a blues tune, and SBW's Checkin' On My Baby with a rumba type rhythm like heard on my myspace. The players and the people doug the diversity and yes, though not a singer, I had to sing. Ouch!
All the best to you . . .
howlin' madmart
13 posts
Apr 03, 2008
8:15 AM
Hey Chipper, just checked out your 'Myspace'....fantastic, well done. You sure have a nice clear sound. I have put your site into 'my favourites' for further visits.

4 posts
Apr 03, 2008
12:01 PM
Thanks for the words. I may be getting back into the band mode. Not sure yet as I am extremely busy. But, I am playing here and there, keeping the chops warm.
Best to thee,
102 posts
Dec 29, 2009
7:26 AM
I think this is the first post.I maybe wrong.Just feel like bringing it up.Bump
HARP (Harmonica Assn 'Round Philly)
25 posts
Dec 29, 2009
7:53 AM
I think we all come to playing live in our own time. When the inspiration is strong enough, you will have no choice. For me, it took about 3 months. I was playing on the street corner and a local bar owner came up to me and said she would give me $100 and any bottle off the top shelf. I closed the case and followed her. I was driven to play and this opportunity moved me to a place to play more, so I took it. I have met countless players that seem to be on the fence with playing live. The only advice I can offer is to get quiet, and listen to your heart. The heart never lies, and the head lives in lies....... Like I said, we all find our own way to the stage if it is meant to be. Walter
walter tore's sponotbeat - a real one man band and over 1 million spontaneously created songs and growing.



Last Edited by on Dec 29, 2009 7:54 AM
368 posts
Dec 29, 2009
7:58 AM
Playing live is like being free for me. I actually play things I never think about when i am at home practicing fundamentals. Even using a jam track doesn't bring it out of me like playing live. My son came to practice with me last night and saw what i mean. With the band, it's like another brain kicks in and I can really cut loose. It could be because I also play percussion in the band and have done that live for many years. Maybe it puts the groove in back when i play live. All I know Is i'll take live over jam tracks any day.
318 posts
Dec 29, 2009
8:17 AM
Nothing steps up your game like playing live. You'll make many mistakes,but you'll learn. It's just like in school, you got all the "book learnin" for your chosen career. It never fully prepares you for the real world. You can apply all you've learned to the job,but only experience-on the job training- makes you really good at it.
38 posts
Dec 29, 2009
9:25 AM
Clippers advice is sound.......playing in a band is much different than wailing in the woodshed. You need to learn to share musical "space". Call/response and rhythm playing ( in the background ) is a big part of it......then when you see it's your turn.....blow em away. I have no formal musical training but have been a music lover and a DJ (vinyl- classic rock) for almost 50 years. Once I hear a chord progression I can usually follow it.
Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn. They teach you there's a boundary line to music. But, man, there's no boundary line to art. - Charlie Parker
Jim Rumbaugh
125 posts
Dec 29, 2009
9:57 AM
You asked "when"

I've seen some people that were ready at 6 months.
And I hang out with some guys that will never be ready. But if you hang out here, you probably are not one of those "never ready" guys.

Jump in when and where you can. Now is OK. DO NOT have big expectations. Start slow, and grow with time. If you do not rush it, you will get to where you want to be.
776 posts
Dec 29, 2009
10:57 AM
Lots of good advice there. I think that Jim's 'DO NOT have big expectations' is well worth echoing.

One thing you can be pretty sure of: that riff you spent hours working on will crumble when you first take to the stage. Adrenaline can be a strange thing. But, that's OK. The blues is a very forgiving music form to play, and luckily, most audiences are fairly forgiving too, that's if they even noticed you messing up, which is unlikely.

If you get nervous adrenaline, it can take a while to get used channelling it.
YouTube SlimHarpMick a.k.a. HarmonicaMick
233 posts
Dec 29, 2009
11:16 AM
I'll echo the "just get out there and do it" sentiment. Find a comfortable street corner and do your thing. Your so-called "mistakes" won't bother anyone as they are invariably on the move and will pass right by you.
By the time you attract a few people to stop, the mere fact that they did will boost your confidence and help calm you down.

Underwater Janitor, Patriot
373 posts
Dec 29, 2009
11:25 AM
I played at a jam night first. I learned a TON in about 20 minutes of playing time.

1. memorized licks and riffs are cool..until they don't fit into what's being played.

2. I didn't have a grip on the instrument itself at the 2 month point...so back into the woodshed to do that.

3. "I sure wish i could play guitar tonight instead of harp..." LOL.

4. Not being "ready" to play live doesn't matter much at jam night as long as you don't act like you are better than you really are....humility worked wonders for me...live and learn. People applauded and smiled anyway in a friendly audience/learning environment.

5. Jamming at 3 months was WAY different than at 2 months and the learning from the first one helped make it that way.

6. Get into a band as soon as possible. If possible, make it a band that's good. Get in on another instrument you know well and add harp as you learn and grow with them.

My real world beginner's observational .02.

Last Edited by on Dec 29, 2009 1:25 PM
345 posts
Dec 29, 2009
12:46 PM
My "Perfect Place" is on stage on the center mic, under lights with a hot lil 3-4 piece Blues, Blues based Rock Band singing and blowing my ass off. There is no where else in the world I feel more comfortable.
45 posts
Dec 29, 2009
12:51 PM
Practicing at home is one thing, but playing live in front of people is another. It is important to work at both of these things constantly. Get into groups with other musicians who also want to play. Do this when you feel comfortable and ready. Jams are wonderful. Also open mics and piano bars. Just get out there. And the more you do it, the easier it gets. You will gain confidence and you will be relaxed. The most important thing is to have fun with it!
348 posts
Dec 29, 2009
1:12 PM
Just a bit of Promotion to really good Group. The Archie Edwards Blues Foundation. For anyone in the DC/Baltimore vicinity has acoustic jams on Saturday from 1-5 in the afternoon. Lots of nice people who will encourage you to play and very nice about teaching. The also do seminars with decent players. I did an Seminar with Annie Raines and one with Phil Wiggins there, good stuff and it's a non profit that deserves support.
35 posts
Jan 04, 2010
9:24 AM
i started out as a trumpet player why back in the 4th grade. when I was a junior in Highschool I was playing in our swing band. I was supposed to walk to the front of the stage and solo on trumpet over the song. As a joke I spent 6 months learning the part on harmonica. thinking it would piss off our band director. (up til then i could only play a few folk tunes and christmas songs on a harp) So I guess it took about 6 months, but I already was being offered scholorships on trumpet, and i had a few years of piano, and music theory. I love being on stage and am completely comfortable in front of a crowd, but i'm a nervous wreck every time I have to give a presentation at work. lol
87 posts
Jan 04, 2010
12:25 PM
I have been sitting in with some acoustic players that took over the open mic in a local bar last month. Although they weren't doing open mic anymore, the bartenders remembered me and convinced them to let me join in.

Long story short, I got to join them and their pick-up band this weekend at a packed bar down the street. How did that happen? By not playing. That is, don't play over the whole song, all of the time. The lead guitar player had told me two weeks ago he liked me cauuse I knew when not to play. The singer told me after the set how he had hated harp players before. I'm guessing I know why based on the guitar players comments.

With these guys, I play more like a keyboard player or horn section would. A few fills and a solo here and there, but lots of octaves and tongue blocked bits that fill things out but don't compete with the 2 or 3 guitars already in the mix.

(I've played guitar for 3 decades and harp for 3 years. My guitar playing never got me this kind of invite. By the way, their pickup band included Willie Nelson's drummer [Billy English] and a bass player that used to tour with Debbie Gibson.)

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