Saturday, May 22, 2010

Not a Virtuoso, Just an Anomaly

The Ballistic mountain band, who doesn't call themselves that, is proving to be a cornucopia of creativity. Is that a proper sentence in my use of such words? OK. I say it is a go, so it is.

It may be primarily an acoustic, vocal and harmony outfit, heavily folk influenced, but don't be too quick to judge. It was extremely challenging at first for me to quit putting too much of a blues spin on everything. After awhile I got more of the hang of the kind of precision and inventiveness needed to play decent country, or else, harmonica with these tunes.

The idea, in my book, is for the back up guys like me to add the icing on the cake. Don't try to overpower or be the cake. The style of play that is evolving here has begun to suit me, and it has definitely made me much better and more versatile. Every time we get together I feel like I am progressing a little more.

On top of that, the original music these guys are bringing out is stellar. I have become the biggest fan of both guitar players, as song writers. It has been a long time since I've played on original tunes I like so well.

They have continued to include the instrumental version of one of mine every practice. It is purely a cut loose how I want to play sort of tune. They act like I am some super skilled guy. I remind them that I am mediocre in most ways, but I have that anomaly thing going. Few if any other players go about it they way I do. I'm not really a harp player's harp player. That is not my goal anyway. I strive to be a guitar player's and a singer's harp player.

But this is the first time ever I am encouraged to do just one number entirely my way. They are good about moving somewhat out of their comfort zone, but then by now I guess it has become more easy. Not many people use a C minor Lee Oskar harmonica to cut loose with. A harp player's harp player would consider it no good because I don't get the minors by using overblows and such on a major key harp. Too bad, I like the minor tuning and I can bend and overblow that if need be.

No way to get the same thing on some other harp. It wouldn't have the same tone and sound. Maybe it would be better depending on who played it, but this lets me get lost and let go as much as I allow myself. It seems to be be getting better.

Who'd expect a couple of folk/country/bluegrass/gospel guys to encourage my acid rock/jazz tinge of latin jam?

The real point is that this group is open enough to encourage such things. Everyone is eager to hear everyone else's tunes, and no one is trying to be the big wahoo. Kevin is the natural for front man and anchor of the bunch, however we all know his wife is the final word. Often the focus is on her singing, then again there is Cliff who's considered the most seasoned and skilled musician.

We've progressed a lot in the last month or so. I think it coincides with the amount of original material we've added. They've been sitting on this material for awhile. Not sure what prompted them to bring it out.

This is one of the fortunate side effects of living out in the sticks high above the madding crowd.

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Ballistic Mountain, CA, United States
Like spring on a summer's day


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