At the end of April 2013 I flew to Indianapolis for a multi-day event organized by Jason Ricci and Winslow Yerxa called “Harmonica Collective.”
It was a blast. After an opening night jam at a local blues bar, we had three days of classes on improv, theory, breathing, tongue blocking, amplification, mic technique, and how to tweak harmonicas for better playability.
At the end, we closed out back at the blues bar with a staff concert, during which I was called up to perform with two of my teachers, Paul Davies and James Conway.
Paul and I played an improvised waltz as a duo, then James brought out his bagpipe-tuned harp for a solo piece, and we finished with an uptempo trio take on the Harvest Home Hornpipe.
I’m still processing all the class material, one-to-one conversations, and jam experiences. It was nice to meet so many people with their own harmonica obsessions.
I came away from Harmonica Collective with a renewed focus on tongue blocking, especially corner switching for fiddle tunes with big leaps.
Also, I quickly realized that most of the players there had played a lot more blues jams than me. I spend a lot of time woodshedding fiddle tunes and taking melodies through all 12 positions. It might be time to take a step back and just groove in cross harp awhile.
Thanks to all the Expert Guides: Jason Ricci, Winslow Yerxa, Richard Sleigh, RJ Mischo, Michael Peloquin, James Conway, and Guest Stars Paul Davies and Buzz Krantz.
Also, special thanks to the Saigon Restaurant for their delicious noodle bowls and friendly home-style service. Three meals in four days! Next time, I may even order an avocado shake of my own instead of just sipping everybody else’s.