Randy Singer is one of the best-known harmonica players in Miami and thereabouts, and we’ve known each other since roughly 1980. Randy just unearthed the clip below and sent it to me, and I was glad to get it. It’s a solo I played on a live recording of a performance of Phil Gentile’s song “Hey Brother (Come On In)”, an uptempo tune in a gospel-ish style. The harmonica performance is flat-out all the way; nobody likes athleticism better than a young musician, and I was in my mid-twenties when I recorded this.
The Kerfunken Jig is a traditional Irish piece, performed here by my Dublin harmonica buddy Eugene Ryan and Liz Davis Maxwell on cello. The instrumentation of chromatic harmonica (very nicely rendered by Eugene) and cello is fresh, and the performance is smooth and flowing. I’m looking forward to more from this duo.
Neil Warren is the 2011 National Harmonica League (UK) Rock and Blues winner. He bought a license for our RP355 patch set last year, and he’s taken a big step recently. We’ll let Neil speak for himself:
there I was saying I couldn’t see myself using some of the more out-there effects on the RP355, then someone asked me to do a short little piece to go onto their website. A little playing with your latest patch set, and using the looping and overdub features of the RP355, I mixed the attached.
My first attempt at such harmonica technical wizardy, and I enjoyed myself, a lot! Will have to do more…
Here’s Neil’s piece. It’s short and to the point, and it illustrates something very cool about our patch sets: because the tones are so full of character, and the characters are so varied, you can layer them up in lots of different ways without obscuring the individual tones. In other words, you can make an ensemble that’s full of color and depth–all with your harmonica and an RP with our tones in it.
We’re delighted that Neil shared this with us, and we’re especially pleased that he had so much fun putting this piece together. So for those of you out there who are using our Digitech RP patches to make traditional sounds: that’s great! Now try something different. You’ll be glad.
Steve Baker’s got buckets full of tone. Want to know how he does it? Check this out. Dig the Fabulous Thunderbirds “Girls Go Wild” (my favorite T-birds record) poster in the background.
Tone matters. As Steve pointed out to me once, if you’ve got good tone, you’re going to sound good pretty much no matter what amp you play through; if you don’t, you’re going to sound weak and whiny (albeit louder) no matter what the amp does.
While you’re at it, check out this discussion of tone by classical harmonica virtuoso Robert Bonfiglio and our piece on breathing for a big sound.
And just to make it utterly clear that our man Steve ain’t just blowin’ smoke when he talks tone, here’s a vid he made in September 2012 live at Kulturbastion with Steve Goodman on guitar and vocals. Listen to the first 4 bars of “Who Do You Love” and tell me true: is that a modern blues master, or what?
Andi Martin is a strong blues harp player based in Madrid who’s using a Digitech RP355 loaded with my patch set in his live performances. We like it. You can hear one of his performances in the video below. Check out Andi’s Youtube Channel (canal de andimartinbluesharp) for more.
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I’ve been working lately on using my JamMan Stereo looper to put complete band arrangements together on the fly, using the Digitech RP355 to orchestrate. This piece, “The Road Out of Here” (copyright 2012 Richard Hunter/Turtle Hill Productions, all rights reserved) has been evolving, starting with the lyrics (which came out of ideas I developed in my book “World Without Secrets” in 2001), for a few years. I recently began to play it with a new groove, fast and urgent, which you hear on this recording.
You add all those sounds up, and it makes a pretty big roar, as you can hear on the recording. The JamMan Stereo lets me remove the latest layer added to the loop, so I can make it all big and then drop it down instantly, all of which is very nice for arranging on the fly. The vocals are processed through the TC-Helicon Voicelive Play, using a patch called “Benny and the Jets.”
In case there’s any doubt, this recording was made live, with no overdubbing (except live overdubbing on the JamMan Stereo looper, of course). I parked my Zoom H4 a few inches from the grill of my Peavey KB2 keyboard amp and hit record. I mastered the live recording (meaning I compressed it, EQ’d it, and made it a little louder) in Sonar X1, which is what I use for mixing and mastering.
Rob Paparozzi, New York studio harmonica ace and lead singer with bands that include the Original Blues Brothers and Blood, Sweat, and Tears, just posted this piece to Youtube: Rob playing lead (on an Anthony Dannecker customized diatonic harp in Ab) on Duke Ellington’s classic “In a Mellotone.” Rob’s Audix Fireball V mic is running to a Digitech RP with my patches installed.
He does the head choruses using an octave down patch–it’s nice and clean, so my guess is that it’s the FDI8D patch (direct amp model, octave down double). He improvises using one of the clean patches with reverb–since I put the level of the octave double under footpedal control in that and a few other patches, he might just have backed the pedal off on the same patch.
Overall, a very cool performance, and also nice to hear how much jazz a master like Rob can get out of a diatonic harp without retuning it or overblowing.
Here’s a short video from my appearance at Mumbai’s BlueFrog club in November, performing with local musicians. I’m playing a CR element mic through a Digitech RP255 (Hunter patch Champ 2) direct into the PA.
We’ll just add that this is the first recording we’ve heard of Steve playing through his RP255 direct to the PA, and we think it sounds–like Steve Baker! Which is to say, about as good as amped harp gets. We’re delighted to be able to create gear that inspires musicians like Steve to performances like this. (And we bet Steve really liked the RP255′s portability on this trip, too. It’s a lot easier to carry an RP255 around than it is to drag a 50-pound amp with a road case through one airport after another.)