Hi and welcome back to Max’s Blues Harp newsletter! This month we present another new video which introduces an important playing technique called Tongue Blocking; a write-up about another Harp Legend, Sugar Blue; and finally we introduce another way for you to keep up to date with Max and friends through our new Facebook group.
Please continue to stay safe and healthy!
A NEW TECHNIQUE – TONGUE BLOCKING
Check out Max’s latest video which talks about what we already know how to do … “Puckering” and a new technique called “Tongue Blocking” which will see you on your way to some great harp sounds!
MAX TINKLE’S HARMONICA LEGENDS – SUGAR BLUE
Sugar Blue is one the hottest present day Harmonica players. He is a big part of the Chicago blues scene. His full name is James Joshua Jimmy Whiting, he is also known as Jimmy Whiting, his friends call him ‘Blue’.
He was born on December 16th, 1949 in Harlem, New York City. His mother was a singer and dancer at the then famed Apollo Theatre which featured James Brown and Billie HolIiday along with many other leading acts, so he grew up surrounded by Jazz, Blues and popular music of the 50s and 60s.
When he heard Little Walter playing with Muddy Waters he knew the Harp was for him. He was still a teenager when he recorded with Brownie McGhee, Roosevelt Sykes and Victoria Spivey.
He was walking home after a concert when he spotted a bin full of old 78s. He pulled one out and it was ‘Sugar Blues’ by Clyde McCoy. “That’s it!” he shouted … “the name I’ve been looking for, Sugar Blue!”.
Blue went Paris in 1976, Mick Jagger apparently spotted him busking there which resulted in him becoming the Harp Player on several Rolling Stones LPs, Emotional Rescue, plus their hit ‘Missing You’.
Here it is … Missin’ You! Sugar Blue’s version on Harp and Vocal:
Part of his musical life included a 1978 tour with Guitarist / Singer Louisiana Red (1932-2012) who had a great career in his own right. Sugar Blue plays the harp from top to bottom. His top end playing is superb and we can all get some new inspiration from it.
He is probably one of the most innovative harmonica players in recent times and does things with the instrument that leave his audience breathless. Listen closely, he has some great ideas we can all learn from.
Sugar Blue’s recording life has been quite prolific. He appeared on several other Stones albums including Emotional RescueandTattoo You.
His Paris Sessions show plenty of his high-end harp technique. It’s over an hour but well worth the time. I’m sure you’II enjoy these tracks:
Here’s Rolling Stones Guitarist Ronnie Wood taking about Sugar Blue… only two minutes!
Mick Jagger said of Sugar: “Blue is a technical wonder. He blows torrents of intense, quicksilver-lightning runs – swooping, soaring, purring, and wailing, sometimes sustaining high notes while chording beneath them. His chops are scary… Blue balances flash with feel.”
In 1982 he returned to America and recorded with Willie Dixon’s All Stars, getting awarded a Grammy in 1986 for “Another Man Done Gone“. He was also on a Willie Dixon Grammy Award winning LP in 1987. Sugar has played and recorded with many of the famous names of American music including Willie Dixon, Jerry Lewis, Fats Domino, B.B. King and Ray Charles.
He moved to Chicago and played with Big Walter Horton, Carey Bell, Junior Wells and James Cotton. He then spent two years touring with Willie Dixon in the Chicago Blues All Stars eventually putting his own band together in 1983. His own band was successful and he became well known through America and Europe.
He received the 1985 Grammy Award for his work on the Atlantic album, Blues Explosion, recorded live at the Montreux Jazz Festival and also featured on Dixon’s Grammy winning Hidden Charms album in 1989.
Sugar Blue has since recorded with his own band on the Alligator label. He has written and recorded many songs and is becoming a respected singer/songwriter as well. He’s also a regular performer in the Chicago area.
‘Bluepine’ is a harmonica/piano duet with Muddy Waters famous pianist Pinetop Perkins, there’s minor-key blues, jazz, funk, R&B and straight blues which all have a place in Blue’s repertoire. It is a fantastic Blues track to finish on!
Enjoy and we’II be in touch with another Legend soon.
INTRODUCING MAX’S FACEBOOK GROUP
We’d love to welcome you to join the newly created Max’s Blues Harmonica Club Facebook group. Get the opportunity to share your thoughts with other Blues Club members and ask Max as many questions as you like! Join the group by visiting the link below: