harptalk[click photos to enlarge]
The most peculiar part in Homesick's harp playing is the way he plays Zydeco and Merengue tunes on a diatonic harp. What you hear on those tracks is not just a 'standard' bluesharp. It's a Seydel octave tuned Concerto harp. He discovered Seydel long time ago while touring in Germany: Homesick bought a Seydel Club harmonica. Later he contacted the manufacturer and a deal was made.
Now he's playing Seydel Concertos in all keys and special tunings. Apart from these Concertos Homesick also uses Hohner Autovalve harmonicas. They work the same way but have a wooden body.
"You can also play Zydeco music on regular bluesharps, but for the special sound the octave tuned harp is the ultimate. With Louisiana Men, most of the time, for instance while playing one of the soul-tunes sung by Alex, you hear a regular bluesharp. Also on the Ray Charles tune it's a good quality diatonic. For R 'n' B, Jazz and even the commercials I do, I always use a "normal" bluesharmonica. I'm not handy with a chromatic, so even while changing keys I prefer changing harps or use special tuned harps. At the moment the brand is mostly Seydel, but these are hard to get in Holland. Only for the key of Eb I must have a Huang Silvertone and for the key of F it's a Suzuki Pro Master."
In concert, Homesick plays straight over the PA, simply using his vocal mike:
"I used several amps and all kinds of microphones and bullets, but nowadays I really prefer a clean harp sound. Specially when I play those fast and high notes, they come out best when you play it clean. And you know when I do a studio recording and they ask me for a heavy sound,I use a little megaphone I once bought for my children. However, if I should have to choose a mike, it would be the 'shotgun' by Shure."(you can see it on the picture of Paul Butterfield)
"Well first of all: Paul Butterfield, but I also learned a lot trying to copy Sugar Blue. Sonny Boy is magic as well. In Holland I was lucky to do a lot of playing with John Lagrand."
What's your favourite style for jamming & improvising on the harp?
"Funky New Orleans music and funky jazzrock is real nice for harmonica. To play a bit like brassplayers do. I did that on some New Orleans funk & brass with Louisiana Radio."
What is your favourite harp album?
"Well actually it's an album with a guy called Howard Levy on it. It's really amazing what he does. I'm talking about the first album of Bela Fleck & The Flecktones (1990 warner). Further: The Best Of Little Walter is a must have."
"All the ins and outs about how to take care of your harmonicas, you can find on other sites, but one thing handy is to use a coffee filter to put the harps in, so I can switch easily between some harp riffs and the guitar.
On all my harps I write the key with nail polish, so you won't catch me grabbing the wrong harps on a dark stage. Or worse: having it upside down!"
You got any site-tips ?
"shure, check out this huge collection of bluesharp related websites:"
Bluesharp Info bluesharp directory and interviews