AG: What’s in tougher
shape these days, the blues world or the world in general?
MH: Both are in rough shape I’m afraid, everything is on edge and
blues fans are in their 30’s to 50’s and are both busy at
work and more cautious with their entertainment dollars. We need to pass
this on to a new generation somehow. I think playing this great music
live is what’s going to make new converts.
AG: Tell me about your band, the aptly named Blues Survivors.
MH: These guys, Charles Wheal (9 years), Steve Wolf
(8 years), Marty Dodson (7 years) have broken a
longevity record with me. Wolf and Marty really click
together as a rhythm section and Charles always plays tasteful guitar,
so everyone pulls together as a unit. Bob Welsh, on keys, has been playing
with us a lot lately and adds a whole new layer and textural quality
to the band. They’re all good guys too.
AG: Let’s talk about the CD. Do you
enjoy the recording process?
MH: The studio is much different than live gigs, you have more room to
experiment with sound and harmony, new ideas and grooves, you’re
doing a more solitary job, but we had a great guy in Jim Day to work
with, he listens to our input and gets what we’re looking for.
AG: You’ve written some first rate songs,
including a topical one, how did “Big Easy
(Ain’t Easy No More)” come about?
MH: My wife Alexis and I got to Jazzfest in May 05,
and I’m glad that she got to see New Orleans before
everything changed, it’s long been my favorite city to hang out
in. I knew after Katrina hit town and the horrible delay in reaction
time from the current administration, that I had to do a benefit and
later write this song about how awful it was for the folks stuck there.
I just hope they can make it back into what it once was. There’s
no place like it.
AG: I know your killer harp tone comes from you and you alone, but what
set up did you use in the studio?
MH: I used to use my Fender Princeton, but
11 years ago started using a 59 Fender Bassman that I bought from Rusty
Zinn, there’s no amp I like better. I used a Commando on a couple
of tracks on the live CD “Blowin’ My Horn” and the Victoria
Bassman on the rest of it. On the road I use
different mics with different amps, but with the 59 Bassman it’s
an Astatic JT30 mic that sounds best.
AG: Nobody does a better job of
showcasing the Harp Legends than you
do with your Harmonica Blowout Tours.
Is this something you plan to continue?
MH: Oh yeah, they’re my major focus at the
moment. I’m so proud to be a part of these shows that featured my
idols like Snooky Pryor, Billy Boy Arnold, Carey Bell, Magic Dick, Lazy
Lester, James Cotton, Little Sonny and Sam Myers. Plus, my
buddies like James Harman, Rick Estrin, Charlie Musselwhite, Lee Oskar,
Jerry Portnoy, Kim Wilson, Gary Primich, Johnny Dyer, Paul Delay and Huey
Lewis. My major mission is to present a variety of great blues harmonica
to the general public. Guitar has gotten it’s due many times over,
now it’s the harmonica’s turn!
Andrew Galloway, President, Electro-Fi Records.
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