A blog about the Jaw harp.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ben Sollee, LOOPING jaw harp orchestra, Imogen Heap, Thomas Dolby and...

Hello brothers and sisters!

I know it's been a while but living in America these days means working harder, more stress, and less time. All work (and that's if you're lucky,) no play, makes Johnny a dull boy!

Regardless of the state of affairs in the States, life goes on and people keep on keeping on. Got no choice, really. On to our instrument.

I came across a talented artist from Kentucky. His name is Ben Sollee and the man has very good, deep roots that come out loud and clear in his music and lyrics. There is a track where you can hear the jaw harp here. Go to the bottom of the page, the last item, and look for "Bury me with my car". You can also listen to the song here. Otherwise, here's a live solo version of the song, sans jaw harp. Makes it easy to play along your own version.

From Kentucky to the Gobi Desert, here is a very nice piece (and cool film) from Mongolia.

I don't have too many details but you can look it up on the web.

From Kentucky to Mongolia, and now to Austria, introducing LOOPING jaw harp orchestra!

This band is off the charts. They are somewhere between rock, jazz and world music but honestly, there's something else going on. Check out their music here and their band web site here. I would love to hear them play live.

We need to encourage newcomers to the instrument. This is Gio's beginning attempts and I think he should be commended on it. Go Gio! You're doing great!

I am always awed by Indian style playing. Here's Slim Defalla with a nice demonstration. Slim keeps a low profile so until he emails me, we won't know more about him other than this video... All I could get is that he was filmed at the Music Department, Musée de l'Homme, Paris by none other than the illustrious Tran Quang Hai on December 3rd 2008. Hey! My birthday! Thank you both. : )

Some of you who have been following this blog know I like techno. With that in mind, let's zoom over to Budapest for some block rocking beats.

And of course, the great Nadishana playing at the 6h Jaw HarpFestival in Kecsemét, Hungary. See? It's worldwide.

While you're at it, also check out Nadishana and Aron Szylagyi perform together. Szylagyi harps are great so get one, or two, or three.

Some people think Jazz is Jazz and no room for a jaw harp. Well guess what. Watch this, or at least the intro. Stay for the musicianship. Get ready.

Here's a beautiful photograph I came across of Roderic, a Jaw harpist from a village in India called Remawand. Photo by Collin Key, a photographer based out of Germany.

Techno Hippies, toad licking, Imogen Heap and Thomas Dolby.

Here's an interesting video from Thomas Dolby. He explains putting together a track using the web, a studio and friends like Imogen Heap. I believe she's using a Hmong harp like this one. Enjoy!

That will be all for this time. Keep the faith, keep up the good vibrations, be good to one another as much as you can, and don't forget to have fun.


Friday, April 2, 2010

Did you say Spring?

© Simon Fernandez

I would like to bring to your attention the release of Jack Rose's Luck In The Valley, his final LP. Jack Rose passed away last December at the age of 38. He often used open tuning and his compositions were mostly for 6 and 12-string guitar, as well as lap steel guitar.

He has been compared to the guitar players on the Takoma label, including American primitive guitarist John Fahey, Robbie Basho and former Vanguard recording artist and touring partner Peter Walker.

Here's the first track from the LP, Blues for Percy Danforth. It's a 7'36" minutes bluesy raga featuring the Jaw harp and harmonica.

Jack Rose "Blues For Percy Danforth"

Here's another gem for you. Multiple SIDosis is a 1970 short film about a man who gets what he wants for Christmas. The performer and filmmaker, Sid Laverents, creates an entire multi-part performance of the song Nola. Sid plays a ukulele, a banjo, a jaw harp, a guitar and various other instruments.

Sid started as a vaudeville entertainer and worked in many different fields, from dishwasher to sheet metal worker to aircraft engineer. He also enjoyed amateur filmmaking and created a number of short films. This short film is in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.

Here's a beautiful piece I missed back in 2007, Naked Rain's "Wave". Naked Rain was formed in 2004 in Copenhagen, Denmark and have released two albums on Gateway Music/Solnik Arts, "Thunderbird Suite" from 2006 and "Wave" from 2008. New release "Two Skeletons On A Tin Roof" due in the spring of 2010. This lovely piece features Ole Theill, Tabla; Soma Allpass, Cello; Bjørn Ringkjøbing: Flugelhorn & Trumpet; Rasmus Lorens Hagedorn Olsen, Jew's Harp & Percussion; Morten Vilhelm Keller: Guitars & Keyboards.

From Xinjiang province, in western China comes singer/songwriter Mamer. Mamer's debut album Eagle on Real World Records (Peter Gabriels's label) transports you to the Chinese grasslands where he grew up, using instruments of his heritage with an alt-country aesthetic influenced (besides his own musical roots) by Western bands like King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Metallica and others. Mamer beautifully blends completely different musical roots to create his own, yet universal, music and songs.

Here's a sample:

And an introduction to this artist:

By the way, have you heard our beloved instrument featured on the Gorrilaz' Pirate Jet song on the album Love amid the ruins? The CD is full of guests, including rappers Mos Def and De La Soul, Swedish pop vocalist Yukimi Nagano and the great Lou Reed. Checkit!

The following was brought to my attention by Veskimo's Journal: Stan Wood and his Vibraband. It's not a jaw harp but it involves a low-tech instrument and some j-harp playing techniques so I think you'll enjoy this little video. Stan Wood is part of the Gone Orchestra, an eleven member performance art group from Portland, Oregon made up of some of the area's finest improvising musicians.

Here's an interesting new instrument somewhat derived form the j-harp, the Tonal Jaw Harp. I'm not sure who the inventor is but this demonstration comes to us courtesy of George Andriyanov of Bugotak. There must be a vibrator of sorts but I'm not sure exactly how it works. Let me know if you do!

I leave you with a live (on the street) improvisation by the great Byon Kay Busking. He uses a drum track, loop pedal, jaw harp and even a nose flute. Those can be bought at Mouth Music.

FInally, below is an excerpt from James Hobbs' Wild life in the far West, published in 1872 in which he tells about living with the Indians and trading a captive for a Jew's harp... : )

Enjoy, have fun, be good and keep on Boinging!