Who do you think are talented harmonica players in the folk music genre? Bob Dylan and Neil Young certainly popularized the harmonica, but can you recommend some other players? And if you can recommend some examples of their playing I can share, that would be great.
I know "folk" can have multiple connotations so I am curious what you think.
Last Edited by Tom585 on Aug 12, 2020 11:48 AM
Although it might not seem so at first glance, "Folk Music" covers a lot of territory, and so does Folk Harmonica. Sarge is good at the old time harmonica style as you can see above. Sam Hinton's playing in the videos was great. These styles take advantage of the rhythmic chord/note playing diatonic offers with tongue techniques.
In addition to old time music, Irish music on harmonica is a form of folk music. Older blues including fox chases and train songs qualify as folk music. Jug band music was folk music.
You mentioned Bob Dylan and Neil Young, which also falls under the big tent called "Folk Music", but also that of singer/songwriter. They each played harp in a rack.
Is there a particular style of folk harmonica that interests you? ----------
Dylan and Neil Young are singer-songwriters, not folk musicians.
Traditional music is the current term, partly because the term "folk" has been distorted to mean anyone with an acoustic guitar (see above).
Seth Shumate is another really fine old-time Southern player.
Donald Black is a Scottish tremolo player who is amazing on Scottish trad.
Jerry Devillier has been mentioned, but I'd like to emphasize that he has the *true* Cajun sound, which is very rare.
Another great, pure-drop Cajun player is Isom Fontentot, who eas recorded quite a bit in the late 1950s for Folkways, and who can be seen and heard in a Canadian documentary that's available on Youtube.
De Ford Bailey is usually described as a blues musician, but he's actually a window into late 19th-centry black non-blues fiddle-based dance music.
Canadian trad is something I've focused on, and you can hear some of it (along with other styles) on my Youtube channel. (Maple Suger, Two-Step Polka, Fantaisie sur la Grand Gigue Simple, among others, and also some Finnish folk with violinist Tuula Toassavainen Cotter).
I agree that "Folk" music has become such a wide category that sub-classes such as "Traditional" are needed to get more definition. Sub-sub-genres help, too.
However, Woody Guthrie is a singer-songwriter who is commonly classified as performing "Folk" music. Do you believe that singer-songwriter and folk music are mutually exclusive categories, could they overlap for some performers or songs, or could singer-songwriter be included within the bigger category of "folk"?
EDIT: I have really been enjoying the workshops and performances at SPAH Week! ----------
Last Edited by dougharps on Aug 15, 2020 2:51 PM
Obviously, there is overlap. Woody repurposed traditional melodies in some cases. However, much of what he did was specifically purposed to advance a social and political agenda, and this, too became part of the popular definition of a folk singer in the 1950s, largely as the result of Woody and Pete Seeger.
Dylan kind of used that folk/progressive starting point to launch his career as a songwriter, and the "folk" term followed him.
But the root meaning of folk music is music of the folk, which started with 19th century musicology meaning the traditional music of uneducated, often illiterate rural people who preserved old musical traditions. Clearly that definition carries a lot of patrician assumptions.
The term "traditional music" sidesteps all those weird distortions. It's not a subclass; it's the heart of the definition.