I record myself practicing as a matter of habit, and the piece linked below is the first thing I play on stage and in practice: Bob Dylan’s “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry.” This arrangement is mine, and is designed to showcase some of my own techniques for harmonica, such as the 10th/11th/12th splits you hear on the introduction and after each verse. I set up the backing track, which consists of bass, drums, and one harp, and loaded it into my Digitech JamMan Solo looper pedal; once the JamMan is running, everything else is live.

Photo by Chiara Meatelli

The harmonica is a Hohner MB Deluxe in the key of A, played in second position. It’s played into an Audix Fireball V mic, which is input to my Digitech RP355 running a Bassman amp model with rotary speaker effect. (In my v14 patch set for the Digitech RP355, this patch is named FBAROT. I’m renaming it for the next version of the patch set.) I set the RP355 up in stompbox mode so I can go from full off on the FX to full on with a footpress. I think this patch has a big, tough sound, not extremely distorted but loud and full, with plenty of body and a convincing tone both with and without the rotary speaker effect. I think the overall arrangement works very well with nothing but drums, bass, and harp.

The singing is my own, and I don’t think it sounds a lot worse than Bob’s. (Whatever. I’m working on it.)


Richard Hunter/It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry LIVE 20110815