Wang Wang Blues Harp

Great Harmonica Performances of the 1920s & 30s


01. Railroad Blues - Freeman Stowers
02. Crazy About You - State Street Boys
03. Wang Wang Harmonica Blues - Carver Boys
04. My Driving Wheel - Lee Brown
05. Bay Rum Blues - Ashley & Foster
06. I'm Going To Write & Tell Mother - Robert Hill
07. Blowin' The Blues - Chuck Darling
08. Harmonica Rag - Chuck Darling
09. Man Trouble Blues - Jaybird Coleman
10. I Want You By My Side - Jazz Gillum
11. Friday Moan Blues - Alfred Lewis
12. House Snake Blues - Chicken Wilson & Skeeter Hinton
13. Need More Blues - Bobby Leecan & Robert Cooksey
14. Davidson County Blues - De Ford Bailey




It is not difficult to imagine why the harmonica should have been a favorite among bluesmen; its price, portability and loud volume made it ideal for them. Moreover, the harmonica was perhaps the best suited of all blues instruments to imitate and exaggerate the sound of the human voice. It could produce glissandos and vibratos that even a bottleneck guitarist would have been hard put to duplicate.

French Harp, Blues Harp, Mouth Organ

The harmonica, also called harp, French harp, blues harp, and mouth organ, is a free reed wind instrument used primarily in blues and American folk music, jazz, country music, and rock and roll. It is played by blowing air into it or drawing air out by placing lips over individual holes (reed chambers) or multiple holes. The pressure caused by blowing or drawing air into the reed chambers causes a reed or multiple reeds to vibrate up and down creating sound. Each chamber has multiple, variable-tuned brass or bronze reeds, which are secured at one end and loose on the other end, with the loose end vibrating and creating sound.

Reeds are pre-tuned to individual tones, and each tone is determined according to the size of reed. Longer reeds make deep, low sounds and short reeds make higher-pitched sounds. On certain types of harmonica the pre-tuned reed can be changed (bending a note) to another note by redirecting air flow into the chamber. There are many types of harmonicas, including diatonic, chromatic, tremolo, orchestral, and bass versions...


 Harmonica Blues

Although the harmonica was present in many pre-war recordings, it became a dominant force in the 1950's, when it was amplified by the likes of Big Walter Horton, Little Walter and Snooky Pryor. As such many players and fans seem to think that blues harmonica began with Little Walter and are unaware of the rich early tradition of harmonica recordings. In the early days harmonica soloists were common who played now forgotten pieces like train imitations and set pieces like Lost John, Fox Chase, Mama Blues and other call-and-response pieces that featured the harmonica over the voice, if the voice was used at all. We hear many of these players on today's program including DeFord Bailey, George "Bullet" Williams, William McCoy, Alfred Lewis and Sonny Terry. We also feature early harmonica/vocalists like Daddy Stovepipe, Jaybird Coleman and Jazz Gillum. In addition we hear some great accompanists like Rhythm Willie, Robert Cooksey and Blues Birdhead. There were also play tracks by several notable harmonica players who worked in jug bands like Noah Lewis, Jed Davenport and Eddie Mapp. It was John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson who defined the language of modern blues harmonica playing...

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