Blog, Recommended Artists & Recordings

Grant Dermody’s “Sun Might Shine on Me” Sets the New Standard for Acoustic Roots Harmonica Records

grantdermody I’ve been listening to Grant Dermody’s latest release, Sun Might Shine On Me, for the last couple of days. It’s a brilliantly produced work that presents the listener with lovingly rendered performances of traditional American music and original pieces in traditional styles. For harmonica players, the record offers what amounts to a catalog of essential acoustic harmonica techniques, applied with plenty of guts and smarts to great emotional effect. In short–and there will be more details in this review, but let’s say it now–this record sets the new standard for harp-focused traditional acoustic music.
Read more

Audio/Video, Blog, Hunter's Effects, Recommended Artists & Recordings, Recommended Gear, Recorded Performances (live and otherwise)

A Multi-Colored Piece for Harmonica as Organ

I recorded this improvised piece in my home studio last month. I wanted to try something where the structure of the piece is defined as much by changes in tone as by changes in harmony, and it worked nicely in this case.
Read more

Blog, Recommended Artists & Recordings, Recorded Performances (live and otherwise)

Chris Cacavas/Ed Abbiatti “Me and the Devil” is Released in the USA!

Just picked this up off Ed Abbiati’s Facebook page. The record Ed did last year with Chris Cacavas of Green on Red, “Me and the Devil,” which features yours truly playing harmonica on two tracks, has been released in the USA by Burnside Distribution. Let Ed tell the story…
Read more

Audio/Video, Blog, Pro Tips & Techniques, Recommended Artists & Recordings, Recommended Gear, Recorded Performances (live and otherwise)

“Blue Monk” on the Country-Tuned Harp: It’s All About the Chords

I last recorded Thelonius Monk‘s “Blue Monk” (which Monk originally released in recorded form in 1954) for my solo acoustic CD “The Act of Being Free in One Act” in 1994 as part of a medley that included Jimmy Reed’s “Let it Roll” and “Bright Lights, Big City.” That recording was done on a standard-tuned Lee Oskar G harp played in second position.
Read more

Audio/Video, Blog, Hunter's Effects, Recommended Artists & Recordings, Recommended Gear, Recorded Performances (live and otherwise)

Looping Setups Old and New and a Couple of New Loop Jams

I decided in the last couple of days to buy some new gear for looping. The main idea with this gear is to sync everything to everything: loopers to each other, loopers to drum machines, drum machines to sequencers–you name it, I want it synced up.
Read more

Blog, Recommended Artists & Recordings

So many records, so little time

In the last couple of months, I have been privileged to acquire a huge stack of harmonica records from some of the best players in the world. Mike Stevens, the mind-boggling Canadian virtuoso, dropped a stack of 5 CDs on me that include styles ranging from bluegrass to rock to African. (Yes, I know there’s more than one style of African music, but I’m not knowledgeable enough about all those styles to name them accurately.) Peter Ruth sent me a couple of CDs; Scott Albert Johnson sent me his latest, which is truly a new, compelling take on rock harmonica. And acoustic harp monster Grant Dermody is about to drop his latest on me. Sheesh. Too many great records, not enough time to review them all at once.

So stay tuned for a batch of reviews coming soon to this site, starting with Scott Albert Johnson’s. By the way, if you like rock music and harmonica, just go out and buy Scott’s record right now. I’ve listened to it about 4 or 5 times straight through, and it’s one of the most original takes on rock harmonica that I’ve heard in years. My formal review will be more detailed than that, but that’s the advice.

Audio/Video, Blog, Hunter's Effects, Recommended Artists & Recordings, Recommended Gear, Recorded Performances (live and otherwise)

Big Shimmering Textures: Comin’ Home Baby Looped Live

I recorded this performance of “Comin’ Home Baby” live, using Lee Oskar natural minor harps in G and F, an Audix Fireball mic, a Digitech RP500 running my patch set, a Digitech JamMan Stereo looper, a Peavey KB2 keyboard amp, and a Zoom H4 to capture the sounds on the night of March 7 2015.

I obviously like this tune a lot–I think this is the third time I’ve posted a live version of it to my site, and I recorded it live in the studio for my first CD, “The Act of Being Free in One Act.” I’m posting another version because I really think the sounds on this one are new and different, and very beautiful. The piece is a good example of how a multiFX device and a looper can produce some striking layers of sound. I wouldn’t mind if I’d played it a little tighter on the groove, but the feeling is strong. The harp sounds include a double octave down, a chorused sound with prominent delay, and a tenor sax sound that’s remarkably accurate in the lower register of the harp.

One technique is worth calling out. On the first 12 bars, I alternate between a bass note and chords. I use two natural minor harps, in G and F, to give me the right bass notes and chords (nice fat minor 7th and 9th voicings). I have the Digitech RP500 set up to shift the pitch between two octaves down and an octave down, and I rock the pedal from toe down to toe up to shift from one to the other, playing the bass notes two octaves down and the chords one octave down. That’s an example of how you can use the RP’s expression pedal to change the sound dramatically. (The RP500 offers lots of ways to change the sound instantly and dramatically. I’ve started programming all the FX for all my patches because I can turn them off and on so easily.) Of course, I could do the same thing by setting up an octave down patch and a double octave down patch side by side on the RP500, and in fact I’ve used that approach on occasion–it’s how I configured the bass layers for my performance of “Early to Bed.” But I think the sound of the pitch sliding by is pretty cool for this song.

It’s fun to compare this version of the piece with the duet I recorded live with Wim Dijkgraaf in a performance in Sao Paolo, Brazil in October 2014. The duet is more about lines, and the looped version is more about textures. Both versions make their respective emotional points.

Enjoy.

“Comin’ Home baby” recorded live by Richard Hunter 7 March 2015

Next Page »