Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"Pocket Full of Soul" Festival in Houston

Hi readers! As promised, here is my review of the pocket full of sould festival.
. I arrived at around 5:45. Gary Allgretto was teaching new player how to play the "Mannish Boy" riff. Among the booths was one for the HOOT chapter of Houston! There I met Jim Early, who runs HOOT Houston.
. I wasn't there long before I spotted a very tall fellow. Although I'd never seen him in person, his hair and clothes left no room for doubt. I was lookinging at one of my heroes of harmonica, Jason Ricci. I introduced myself to Jason. We'd spoken before for an interview, and got along well. Before long he was called away for an audio check.
. A few minutes later the show opened up. First up was Guy Forsyth, whose playing I'd never heard before. He spoke about the power of the harmonica, holding it up to show how small it was. He opened by playing an old prison song (if someone remembers the name please email me), using nothing but his harmonica, voice, and a stombox. It sounded fantastic...powerfull.

He was shortly joined on stage by Gary Allegretto. Guy played guitar while Gary played the harp. They played well together, backed by New Blood.

The next performer was local great, Dave Nevling, who was backed by his band, The Blues Kats. His performance was good. He was very relaxed while playing, and gave a great show.

After he played, a projector was turned on, hitting a huge inflatable screen. "Pocket Full of Soul was about to start.

I enjoyed the movie. It seemed just about everyone was in it. John Popper spoke about the history of the harmonica. Sugar Blue had some great things to say about the harmonica being the most intimate, expressive instrument. He spoke about the connection between a player and the harp. They had a few graphics that showed the different parts of the diatonic harmonica and how they go together.

The movie also was good at illustrating the tremendous impact the harmonica has had in ou culture. I enjoyed the movie very much. This is something I'd like to show to non-harp players, as it illustrates what a harmonica is capable of.

After the screening of the film, the concert was back on. Before the show, I had never watched Survivorman, a television show hosted by Les Stroud. Les came out and played a good show.His playing was very good. He came out stomping and dancing around on the stage. He was energetic, and put on a show that got a few people dancing.

Finally, Jason Ricci came out. I had never seen him play in person before, and let me tell you...I've never seen anything like it. Jason Ricci and New Blood is the best live performance I've ever seen. Jason played some songs from his new album, "Done with the Devil". Jason's control over the harmonica is simply unbelievable. It's smooth, musical, and sounds effortless. Just as great, however, was the incredible guitar playing by Shawn Starski. If you haven't heard him play, look up New Blood on YouTube and find a few clips to watch. These two guys playing together was amazing experience.

The festival, I would say, was a great success. I've included some pictures in this article, but there are many more. The next blog entry (which will be soon) will be nothing but pictures from the event.

Thanks for reading!


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