My grandfather taught me to play when I was just four or five years old. Of course, he played an old-time "oom-pah" style with lots of tongue chording--certainly no blues.
I decided to focus on improving my skills when I was in my early 20s. I've spent the ensuing years experimenting and practicing, and I've gotten to where I'm pretty confident playing with anyone. I've had the fortune to play with some extraordinarily gifted musicians over the years. My favorite gig is being in the host band for a long-running series of blues jams in mid-MO. We're halfway between St. Louis and Kansas City, so we often have musicians from both cities come to sit in. There's no better way to develop as a player than to accompany a different band every few songs. It forces you to be resourceful, respectful, and responsive.
I wish I had more time to devote to playing, but as a single dad I'm committed to raising my daughter above everything else. She's learning to love good music--especially zydeco and punkabilly!
My three top harp heros are Alan Wilson, James Harman, and Pat Ramsey. Other favorites include Billy Gibson, Jason Ricci, Col. J.D. Wilkes, Mark Sallings, Studebaker John, Paul deLay, Paul Butterfield, Mark Wenner, and William Clarke. I like listening to all kinds of players, but I tire quickly of by-the-book LW clones and players who noodle without a sense of soul.
Useless bit of trivia: I named Jason and Brady's bird, Ramsey.
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