I dropped by Mike Stevens’s website today, and heard a cut from his new duet album with Matt Andersen, “Piggyback.” The cut is called “Devil’s Bride,” and to say that Stevens burns a hole through the CD on this cut is putting it mildly.
He’s apparently playing a Powerbender tuning (in second position on this cut, I think), and the sounds he gets out of the instrument, including huge bends with earth-shaking vibratos on single notes and chords all over the harp, are freaking killer. The video of Mike playing his looped piece “A Walk In My Dream” shows a very different side of him, the side that’s about extending the harmonica repertoire to include electronic textures and trance-y structures.
I last heard Mike play live at SPAH in 1997. I was sitting next to Rob Paparozzi one night at the blues jam. Mike played just before the circle came around to me and Rob, and both of us were not at all eager to follow him. Two days after SPAH, Peter Ruth sent me an email to say that he’d rarely heard anything so wild and free as Stevens.
Stevens is still one of the most powerfully emotional and virtuosic diatonic players on planet Earth, and I urge everybody to go to his site and check it out for themselves. You can thank me later.