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  • Now what?

    I sing and play harmonica - think John Popper.  I had a good run from 04-10' and have earned a very solid rep in the harp world (endorsements, convention performances, etc.).  My blues-rock band broke up and I took some time off to finish grad school and have kids.

    For the last year+, I've been trying to line up any sort of work - duo to full band, several genres.  Nothing has panned out.  I get invited to sit in all the time, but I want something real and steady (and I don't get paid to sit in!).

    I have a nice, but small, PA and can handle just about all aspects of a group now EXCEPT booking.  Calling and stopping in at clubs is too much (I commute to work and have a job where calling out isn't cool).  

    I really want to get back to playing, but am having a tough time finding a reliable guitar player for a duo let alone a full band.  I am so bummed!!!!

    Assuming I do find even a duo partner, my heart is in fun music with some jamming, sorta like Blues Traveler, I guess.  Any advice on what to play or get things started?  I know I am being vague, but I am stuck.

    I've stopped at shows, done craigslist, etc, and I get the same responses.  Bands aren't looking members or they totally don't get where I am coming from (they assume they know what I can offer on harp, but they don't really know). 

    Mike - vocals and harmonicaMy SiteMy Facebook

  • #2

    Do open mics, maybe?  There are too many awful harp players out there for a Craigslist ad to work.  

    Jukejoint Handmedowns (my band)

    Find our album on iTunes!

    A Month of Songs (Songwriting blog)

    Originally Posted by gennation

    Neither of us is gay or anything, it just happened.


    • HarpNinjaMike
      HarpNinjaMike commented
      Editing a comment

      Agreed.  It is almost like a scarlett letter.  I haven't done my open mics this summer, but there are two good ones I'll hit up this month now.  Good call!



      Here's a shot of my pedal board (I don't use an amp).  And here is me sitting in with Blues Traveler:


      <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/gPk8mL3xBGY?list=UU0I\_IUGbbj\_KunFaq4bxwQg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>


      People immediately assume the following when I tell them I play harp:


      I must know nothing about music and suck.

      I play blues and harmonica "can't" play other stuff.

      Attached Files

  • #3
    Wow, thanks guido61!

    I sing really well, imho.
    Mike - vocals and harmonicaMy SiteMy Facebook


    • modulusman
      modulusman commented
      Editing a comment

      HarpNinjaMike wrote:
      Wow, thanks guido61!

      I sing really well, imho.

       Yeah you sing and play both well. I would emphasize that you are alead vocalist who also happens to play harmonica when searching for a band.

    • guido61
      guido61 commented
      Editing a comment

      I don't really know where you're based or what your life situation/goals are here, but nchangin brings up a good point in that the uniqueness of what you do may be something that requires you to look beyond your immediate area.   If you're not trying to work in a large metro area, it might be tough to find the musicians and audiences you need.


  • #4
    Good points, and I am probably marketing wrong as I don't want to play THAT harp nor do I overplay anymore. I do comp d eally well.
    Mike - vocals and harmonicaMy SiteMy Facebook


    • #5

      Mike, from what I remember you are the type of guy you can build a band around.  You're a lead vocalist/harp player... not just a harp player.  If I was you I would start going to jams and meeting people.  Get to know some of the better players and then after a month or so go after the ones you would like to work with.  I say a month or so because you'll need some time to determine who you fit with musically, who is looking to do the same thing as you (gigging cover band), and who you get along with on a working level (who is not crazy). 

      I'm in an original project that does not gig right now... so about 2-3 months ago I started hitting jams.  I've met more good musicians in that time than the past 3 years since I moved here.  I should have hit the jams up sooner.  Now, everyone is not looking to do the same thing... some guys don't want to play covers, some guys don't want to gig more than 2x a month, some guys just want to improvise... but if I could front a band like you I'd have a pool several musicians deep to choose from. 

      Unfortunately, I can't front a band... hooking up with a guy who does the type of stuff you do would be a dream situation for me though.  I don't think you'll have much trouble finding guys who want to do that kind of stuff. 



      • HarpNinjaMike
        HarpNinjaMike commented
        Editing a comment

        I didn't realize it when I wrote it, but I am really a singer first and formost.  I just happen to play harmonica as well.  While it would be great to do something unique, I just need to be doign SOMETHING again.


        I am an hour south of the Twin Cities.  I used to play up there with a blues-rock band 4-6 times a month for $3-500 a night.  We never really had our crap together enough to really take the next step as a BUSINESS.

        Shortly after that, I had a solid run as a 4-piece coverband doing a lot of standards and 90's music with harp as the lead instrument.  We were never a "jam band", but it had a Blues Traveler flavor as the harp was all rock based and not typical blues, etc.  That went pretty well, and the money was much better, but the band was in the Cities, I had child #2, and then changed jobs.  It dissolved due to my schedule...most fun I've had giggin, though.

        Flash forward almost two years now...I am trying to find something cover-based that is really accessible and fun...duo stuff at the wineries and such is totally fine.  I'd like to add tasteful harmonica to fill out the sound and not necessarily be the focus.  $200-250 to schlep a PA and lights and play three sets is totally perfect for me.

        I have a guitar buddy, but he is 20mi out of town and currently unemployed...I don't think it will pan out.  I have another guitar buddy, but he wants to do a blues/classic rock thing.  I'd be game, but I don't think we'd be able to book a gig in town.  No one wants to go out to that.

        I might be catching a break as a pro guitar player/teacher is moving to the area and we get along well.  That might be my best opportunity.  We just suffer from a lack of local talent here.  5-10 yrs ago there were a ton of great local bands.  Now, there are really bottom tier cover bands and really generic classic rock bands.  That isn't a dig, though.  I'd totally be fine in a situation like that, but no one is looking for vocals.

        If given the chance, though, I have enough chops and gear to pull off non-harmonica sounds with the harmonica.  I've proven successful in that with small projects locally.  I have a great rep in town, but people just ask me to sit in and not play full time.

        Pretty much anyone (and it is mostly guitar players) who've said, "there isn't room for harmonica", would retract that statment after playing with me.  I realize that is a total uphill fight 100% of the time.  I also realize that sometimes I end up being intimidating to the guitar player, even though that isn't something I try to do.  But yeah, I am totally cool with fronting a $300 a night coverband once a month...I just want to stay local and PLAY, lol.


        Thanks for letting me rant and giving advice - much appreciated.  Also, thank you to those who've checked out some of my stuff and have been so supportive!  


        ***Have been texting local gutiar guy this morning - only interest is a four piece blues band (which really means classic rock)...feels he doesn't get to jam enough in current project.  NOT what I am looking for.

    • #6
      Actually tried using a harmonizer last weekend with my sax player, ran my guitar through it to keep his harmonies on key. Honestly it was hit and miss, sometimes sounding good, other times like complete ass. More on topic, full chords can be played on the harp, making a harmonizer somewhat unnecessary.


      • Piano Whore
        Piano Whore commented
        Editing a comment

        To noone's surprise here, I've never used a harmonizer so am ignorant of how they work. Is it always necessary to run a chordal instrument into one? I know it was 15 years ago but thought things might have evolved, after seeing a local solo artist (ac. guitar + vox, no BT's) use one to tastefully enhance his show. I hadn't thought about harmonics/overtones issues, either (thought those were of more concern to dogs and cats) but I can see how that could confuse a harmonizer.

        RE harmonica, you can get at least 2 notes (and sometimes 3) of most diatonic chords in pop songs, which is pretty cool in itself IMO. For anything more, it might work use a free hand to cover an additional note or 2 on keys to flesh things out. So scratch the harmonizer idea (and overlook my attempt at brain-storming, if you will).