excerpt from 'Sam Myers: The Blues is My Story' pp. 104 (316 words)

excerpt from 'Sam Myers: The Blues is My Story' pp. 104 (316 words)

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Sam Myers: The Blues is My Story

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I lived with Sam [Myers] for two years and took a lot of lessons from him and asked a lot of questions about his [harmonica] playing. He started playing trumpet when he was really young, and I think that helped develop his harmonica playing style in a lot of ways. His phrasing, his note selection, and the fact that he doesn't use a lot of vibrato like a lot of harmonica players do. He'll use what's commonly referred to by harmonica players as a flutter, which is a shaking of the head back and forth to make two notes move. A vibrato is done by a shaking of the hands instead of the head. There are two different schools of thought on harmonica playing. One way is to play purse-lipped, where you keep your tongue off of the harp to get your sound. The other way is to use your tongue to block the notes. A lot of players from Sam's era either used both methods or did a lot of purse-lipped playing. I believe Sonny Boy Williamson used the first way and Rice Miller used both. Sonny Terry would use more purse-lipped than using his tongue on the harp. Sam always leaves his tongue on the harp when he plays, which makes his approach a little different from those players who split between purse-lipped and using their tongues. Sam mentioned to me once that he likes Sonny Boy a lot more than he likes Little Walter. But he listens to so much music, that I know that from playing with him over the years so many times that he probably knows every Little Walter song inside and out, all the lyrics, and all the harmonica riffs. [Sam Myers] is very well studied because he has a very, very well-developed ear in that area[. …] He's really adept at playing Chicago and Mississippi shuffle style blues.

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excerpt from 'Sam Myers: The Blues is My Story' pp. 104 (316 words)


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