The harmonica belongs to everyone. It was invented in the early 1800's by German watchmakers based upon the ancient Chinese principle of the free reed. It was popularized by gypsies, midgets and circus wizards on its way to America during the Gold Rush and Civil War. Southern Blacks learned to play it backwards and incorporated it into the blues. Jobless, it migrated to the cities in search of work and was transformed again into an electric instrument. That’s where hippy white boys like me found it in the 1960’s and 70’s, and made it our own.
I began playing in 1972 after walking through a music store in East Lansing, Michigan, and hearing a recording of Corky Seigel playing "Hush, Hush". I was hooked.
If you have one in your pocket you're never alone. I've gotten pretty good over the years... but I still have a long way to go.
It's a life journey.
William Tell Underature - Studio recording (Boston), 1995, utilizing diatonic, chromatic, tremelo, octave and bass harmonicas.
The Harmonica Store - San Francisco, 1981, The FFHHB's first big hit.
Shenandoah - Studio recording featuring Hugh O'Doherty on guitar and mandoline.
Sally Goes Bowling - Live recording at the Liberty House Cafe, Cape Cod. One guy, one harmonica, one bank of electronics, one take. (~ 7 minutes)
On Norton Buffalo
Harmonica great Norton Buffalo passed away in 2009. Click on the photo.