Keyboard Harmonica Solos in an Acoustic Roots Rock Setting

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    Link to a recording is below.

    So yesterday I performed at a very low-key Farmer’s Market in Easthampton, Massachusetts, USA. This was the second time out for me with this guitar player/vocalist. We play acoustic roots rock.

    I just stuck a pocket recorder in front of us about two feet off the ground.

    From the hour and fifteen minutes of performing, I culled out a few of the keyboard harmonica solos and present them below.

    This sound is not the blues sound I am developing, because that sound just does not fit here. This is a cleaner sound.

    Note several things:

    -You need to wear headphones or have high quality playback equipment to hear the bend I mention below and to hear the subtleties in the technique.

    -The first few solos had a pretty dirty and processed sound. Then I cleaned it up for the rest of the set.

    –At about 2:00 minutes, I was able to get a bend going up.

    –I applied some of the Bootay technique methods to subtly bend notes, change timbre, and get wah wah effects. Most of these effects are subtle compared to what I do in the studio for a number of reasons. Mostly it is just hard to do in the heat of playing.

    There is still much to learn to make the keyboard harmonica and its sound pliable in my hands. I want it to be like clay. I want to bend and shape the sounds at will without thinking during performance. I want to maximize responsive of the instrument and the signal chain.

    For this performance, I was using a Shure SM-57 mic, a guitar pedal for compression, and the LWBC delay pedal (mix all the way up), going into a closed-back VOX AC10 tube amp.

    Click here to listen to the solos.


    Paul Durham

    Very convincing bending. If you had not told us, I would have taken your playing for a blues harp, Lowboy !


    Playing a moving keyboard at the farmer’s market. Note the melodica apron and position of the mic coming in sideways from the left. I remove the strap and hold the melodica at the bottom so I can twist it, lift it, and wave it around. Lowboy

    Lowboy Bootay

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