A blog about the Jaw harp.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bing Bang Boing!

Greetings J-harp tribe!

The Jew's harp is the national instrument of the Yakut People of the Sakha Republic of Russia. Photo by Sidkorn

First of all, mark your calendars. The 16th Annual North American Jew's Harp Festival is in the works. It is scheduled for August 1 and 2 in Downtown Bay City, Oregon. For those of you outside the U.S., it’s a great time to come and visit, courtesy of a very low dollar. Hotel rates are very reasonable, gas is cheap compared to Europe, and food is also cheaper. J-harpists are also cool people, so don't hesitate to contact fellow members of our Yahoo group to ask questions or for a place to sleep!

I received an email a while back from Steev Kindwald. Steev has been studying Asian musics (specifically folk, gypsy, nomadic or tribal) or working with traditional instrument makers --- from the mountains of Northern Thailand, Laos and Vietnam to the Thar Desert/ Indus Valley of Rajasthan, Sindh and Kachchh to the jungles, beaches and mountains of Central Indonesia to the rugged hills of Northern Myanmar even to the quiet rice field villages of Japan. He has some videos on his website as well as youtube (search: steevkindwald)

I also received an email from Danibal who invited me to join a throat singing group he either started or is a part of. I can’t find the email so I’m not sure but a quick Internet search led me to the Overtone Music Network. I randomly listened to a song recorded in a church by Monika Sramlova and found it absolutely beautiful. Back last winter, I saw the Asylum Street Spankers and during the live set, one of their newer members does a short Tuvan throat singing piece. Two notes at once, I've tried it and can't do it!

Finally it's OUT! Ipercussonici has just released its first "official" album published by an independent label called Finisterre Records out of Rome, Italy. The album sounds great and you can listen to some of it at the band's MySpace page.

As far as new recordings, from Southern country rocker Jesse James Dupree and Dixie Inc. comes a new CD featuring the J-harp. Check out this song called Rev it up and go go, complete with heavy metal guitars, banjo and the twanger. A lot of fun for sure.

I hear that the Danger Mouse produced new CD by the Black Keys features the j-harp on some tracks courtesy of Patrick Carney’s uncle Ralph. Ralph happens to play horns for the great Tom Waits. I don’t have the CD so let me know if you hear it.

One thing I do know for sure is that Jack Kerouac was a Jaw harp devotee. Check out this photo of objects that Kerouac treasured throughout his life. This pic was taken at the "Beatific Soul: Jack Kerouac on the Road" exhibit at the New York Public Library, March 2008. I can just imagine Kerouac on the road, hoboing it, playing his J-harp.

From the 1930s comes a tune called Jew’s Harp Bill by The Greene Brothers. It’s a comic piece but worth a listen.

A while back I posted a video of Dizzy Gillespie playing the J-harp. Here’s an even better one of Dizzy with Jon Hendricks. Just crank up the volume because it is barely audible:

We have a new friend, German from Lithuania. He shows how to make a homus (khomus) from scratch, a bit like Craftymonks. He uses basic tools and watching these videos is fascinating. I ordered one from him and am anxiously waiting for it.

Check out a new artist from Hungary, Tamas Arki. He does very interesting work he calls experimental electroacoustic electronica ("Triple E" for short?) Give it a try, I think you'll like it.

I leave you with a performance by Airtist, live in Kecskemét at the WorldmusicTogetherness. Markus Meurer on Didge, Beatbox by Döme, Áron Szilágyi on Jew's harp:

Have a great summer and as always, don't hesitate to drop me a line if you want me to post something of interest.

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