The Jerry Devillier show on Friday night that I was on my way to when I finished my last post was killer. Devillier was solid Cajun all the way–melodic and rhythmic in equal measure–and Joe Filisko on low harps and Eric Noden on National steel guitar backed him beautifully. I don’t know if I want to start packing the super-low Thunderbirds myself, but I loved the sound of Filisko and Devillier, with the former on low harps and the latter on normal tunings. It was a big, wide sound, SO much more musical than the usual cats-on-acid sound of multiple harps playing in the same register. And like just about everything that comes out of Louisiana, it was great music for dancing. The show finished with a big lineup of players behind Devillier that included PT Gazell, Jellyroll Johnson, Grant Dermody, and Winslow Yerxa. Before they played, Devillier, obviously moved, told the audience that this was one of the best nights of his life, an emotional wrapup to a powerful show.
I hit the jazz jam after the Devillier show and played a couple of tunes, including “Song For My Father” and “Georgia,” and felt good about it, which is something considering the stuff that monsters like Filip Jers were throwing down on Thursday night. I was glad that the Hohner techs had tuned up my CX12 that morning; it played like a big, loud dream, and the excellent band hired to host the jazz jams this year provided ample support. The jazz jams this year have featured a much larger than usual contingent of diatonic players, including Sam Friedman and Scott Albert Johnson; I played diatonic myself on “Georgia.” I had a lengthy conversation with Sam Friedman where I recommended he pick up the chromatic harp. His basic answer was “no,” but I told him I’d check in on him again in 10 years. In the meantime, I was very impressed with the diatonic stuff that Scott played on “Song For My Father.” I reckon those diatonic harps are here to stay…
I did my seminar at SPAH this AM with an enthusiastic crowd. I was fortunate to have a good PA system in the room, and the gear functioned flawlessly, although the Flip I was using to film the seminar ran out of power before it ended (which of course meant that the entire video was lost–grrrrr!) It was great to see some of the folks who’ve licensed my patch set for Digitech RP in the crowd. We went for well over an hour and a half, and I’m pretty sure everybody felt like they got their money’s worth.
I performed twice at the open mic stage, the first time playing my song “50 Grand” plus “Comin’ Home Baby,” the second time leading off with Morphine’s “Early to Bed,” to which some of the hipper members of the audience sang along. I was pleased to see some of my favorite harp players, like Jellyroll Johnson, in the audience for the second show. Good clean fun, and no injuries…
At the SPAH dinner tonight, Stan Harper performed, and it was pretty remarkable. I remember Stan performing at the age of 80 at SPAH over a decade ago. Jerry Portnoy and Mike Turk both commented to me then about how great his performance was, especially at his then-age of 80. He’s now 91, and he sounded great on a Mozart piece and a 1920s blues. I mean, like, wow. I’m hoping that playing harp is what accounts for his remarkable abilities (meaning, of course, that I hope I’m playing that well at 91).
I took a long nap this afternoon, preparing for a long night tonight. It’s the last night of SPAH 2012, and plenty of people who started jamming at 11 PM Friday were up ’till 5 AM Saturday jamming. (Not me–I had a seminar to do at 8:30 AM.) I’m ready for an extended session tonight.
I’ve had a lot of fun already at this show, re-connecting with people that I see too infrequently, like Jimmy Gordon, whose madcap demeanor has only become more striking and hilarious with time. As usual for SPAH, I’ve picked up lots of new techniques, heard a lot of inspiring music, and acquired a few new instruments to take home. I’ll write again tomorrow with my final post from this show.