Right now, I’ve got a great big, honkin’ Hohner in my hand. It’s called a Pocket Pal. Sounds like this. [Blow the harp.] My dog Ava, who is no longer with us, used to sing along whenever I played, sort of like Teddy, the dog in the intro to The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Mr. Bojangles.” Remember this? [INSERT Nitty Gritty Dirt Band excerpt] Well, here’s Ava during rehearsals for the Way Back Studio theme song. [INSERT AVA.] As you can hear, Ava was a little temperamental in her old age and just tended to bark at me more than sing. Anyway, as you might have guessed by now, today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl is all about the harmonica, the tin sandwich, the Mississippi saxophone. Now the harmonica showed up around 1820. There are a lot of different types: the chromatic, diatonic, tremolo, octave, orchestral, and others. But the blues harp, the one with ten holes and nineteen notes? That’s what’s at the heart of today’s set.
As for who’s blowing the old mouth organ this time around, we’ve got one guy from England, one each from Minnesota and Louisiana, two guys from Mississippi, and who knows where Earthquake Anderson is from, but he blows a mean harp on Jesse Colin Young’s cover of the “T-Bone Shuffle.” We’ll also hear John Mayall doing one called “Play The Harp.” Jonathan Edwards gives us a take on the traditional “Morning Train.” Then it’s the great Jelly Roll Johnson playing with my pal Mississippi Fred Knobloch, followed by another guy from the Magnolia State, Steve Forbert. And we’re gonna start with yet another guy from that neck of the woods, Greg ‘Fingers’ Taylor with the great Memphis band, Larry Raspberry and the Highsteppers reading off a menu that goes a little something like this.
|Larry Raspberry & the Highsteppers
|Jesse Colin Young
|Play the Harp
|J. Fred Knobloch & Jellyroll Johnson
|House up on the Hill
That’s Steve Forbert playing guitar and blowing the harpoon on a song called “Thinkin’” from his great debut album, Alive on Arrival. Steve is one those guys who makes me shake my head at the way things sometimes work out. He should’ve been huge but for reasons unknown he didn’t blow up the way a lot of people thought he would. But he’s still out there recording great albums and performing all over, so if he shows up in your neighborhood, get out and see him. You’ll be glad you did. Before that, Steve’s fellow Mississippian J. Fred Knobloch with his buddy Jelly Roll Johnson recorded live at the world famous Bluebird Café in Nashville on a song called “House up on the Hill.” Elsewhere in the set, we heard from the Honky-Tonk Stardust Cowboy himself, Jonathan Edwards, doing one called “Morning Train.” You know, he’s another one of those guys, like Forbert, who delivered one great record after another and still managed to remain largely unknown.
In the middle of the set, a man who is no stranger to the harmonica, John Mayall. You might have thought, how come he’s not playing “Room To Move” in this set? Well, as John once said to someone who out for that song at a show, he said, “No, there’s no more ‘Room to Move.’ Why’d you come here, to hear an old record or something?” Well, yes, that’s exactly why we’re here. But instead of “Room to Move” we heard “Play the Harp” from his album Memories. Before the Mayall, Jesse Colin Young doing the T-Bone Shuffle with Earthquake Anderson on the blow tube. And at the top of the set, “Dixie Diner” from Larry Raspberry and the Highsteppers featuring Greg Fingers Taylor. Greg got the nickname ‘Fingers’ from a guy named John Buffaloe when they both played in the Buttermilk Blues Band in Jackson, MS. A few years later, when I was going on the air for my first radio shift, John Buffaloe was the deejay who handed the board over to me. And he said, sorry but we’re all out of time. I’m Bill Fitzhugh, thanks for listening. I’ll be back with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl sooner or later and I hope you’ll join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.