Saturday, November 26, 2016

John, And Lennon

Thanksgiving night, I wound up going out to play. I was pretty confident about having a good tip thrown to me by at least one person, in the Thanksgiving spirit.

I only had a 5 dollar bill thrown, along with a few ones, in the couple hours that I played.

The strings on the guitar were showing signs of age, and the harmonicas that I am using were disappointing me.

I should have ordered the 40 dollar Hohner "Special 20" harp, back when I had more money on my prepaid card, and been done with it.

It would have been here by now.

I tend to think that the Chinese, with their computerized laser tuning, and all the other science that goes into the Suzuki Folkmaster harmonicas (at around $20 each) might be giving the Special 20 a run for its money, at twice that, but I'm sure it's a lot like wine; you have to spend twice as much on a bottle to get a 2% improvement that you feel is worth every cent. 

Black Friday

Last night, Black Friday, the streets were swarming with black people, as the Bayou Classic football game, between Grambling University (every year) and some other opponent (Southern University this year) is slated to kick off, in a couple hours as I write this. 

It is Saturday and some other interesting college football games are coming on the radio.

Tomorrow, I am planning a visit to Howard Westra on the other side of the river, to watch the Patriots/Jets game at 3:30 CST.

I have about 20 bucks in cash, after having an 18 dollar Friday night.

The harmonicas are pathetic, but I am increasing my skills in areas such as turning a melody around before it ascends to the point where it reaches an out of tune reed.

And, it seems that, with each successive harp, I'm learning how to be more gentle on them.
One more half decent night of at least 20 bucks, and I'll be able to order the Special 20, along with a new set of strings, and have it all by next weekend.

There were no Airbnb renters cranking music from the balcony by Lafitt's last night.

I just burned the 1974 Elton John/John Lennon Madison Square Garden concert "album" onto a disc, and will soon go back and listen to that, and then maybe one of the interesting college football games for a while, and then will most likely go out and try to make anything at all, so as to have the luxury of picking up a Monster Energy drink on the way to Howard's tomorrow.


alex carter said...

What the harmonica masters seem to do is, use a mic and a small battery powered amp, so they don't have to push the harmonica very hard at all, that and, they just seem to have a ton of harps and at least know the basics of taking them apart and fixing "dead" reeds etc.

Face it, harmonicas are maintenance nightmares. This is what I told Red, the flute player downtown, who was curious about perhaps playing one instead of his flute. I'd looked into harmonicas and found that while a lot of fun they're finicky, because there are fine gaps between the reeds and the slots they're in, that bending notes is just a matter of changing the shape of the chamber in your mouth, and that by the time you have a number of harmonicas, a mic and amp, batteries (if not in the amp) and cords etc you might as well carry a trumpet or clarinet or something.

But, that being said, a good "harp" player is magic, and there's tons of interest in the instrument, TONS. As in, there are literally THREE harmonica schools in my area, all of them booked up! Just like how there's a ukulele craze right now, there's a harmonica craze, the difference being, unlike the "uke", the harmonica actually doesn't sound like shit.

alex carter said...

I should mention .... spit .... Trumpets have spit valves, flutes get "gurgly" as you play and thus, note how the hotshots always play with their flutes held at an angle ... there's a reason for that. With the clarinet, the spit/moisture/whatever, runs politely out the bell and onto your foot, while every polite sax player will periodically rotate their sax around so the stuff can run off onto *your* foot.

How does this relate to the harmonica? Well, when I messed around with them, I was surprised to find that this is just not an issue. Sure a little will find its way in there, but it's just not a concern. That was a relief!

Also, considering how "small and mighty" modern speakers and mics and things are, it's probably not hard to have 2 harps (main and backup) a mic and battery powered amp, maybe bluetooth with a bluetooth mic with effects built into it, and use a cheap pork-pie hat you take off of your head, and carry it all in the pockets of a jacket or in the corner of a messenger bag or backpack, etc.

Where I am, surprisingly, amps are not illegal. I learned this only recently. My recorder-playing pal just started playing with a backing track and it makes him sound 100% better - he's a very good musician but hearing him so much in tune with the backing track AND in time, a rarity among buskers, really drives this home.

It seems like New Orleans is the same: Amp all you want, just don't be obnoxious. So you might look at amping your harp, because I guarantee the things will last you tons longer.

Daniel McKenna said...

Yeah, I can remember hearing a concert in a church, and watching the French horn (I think it was) playing chick trying to dispose of her spit in the "holiest" way; couldn't just dump it out at the foot of the St. Francis statue LOL
I actually approached her, as she was doing this, causing her to blush..
"That your condensation?," I asked.
"Yes, thanks for not calling it spit," said the French horn girl.

alex carter said...

French horns are the worst! Almost all you'll see are "double" horns, they're actually TWO sets of tubing with one mouthpiece and one bell, that the player switches between for this or that note .... no shit look it up! And they don't have "spit" valves, so it's a constant battle against condensation. And yeah, most of it *is* condensation, but some spit does go in; where else is it gonna go?