Exclusive Interview with Annie Raines

Annie Raines How did you discover the bluesharp ?
~ It was my 17th birthday and I was looking for a book to buy for myself, called Juggling for the Complete Klutz - it was my idea that I would spend the summer learning how to juggle. The bookstore was out of that book, so instead I got a similar looking book called Harmonica for the Musically Hopeless by Jon Gindick.

If everything would be possible (waking the dead included) , which bluesharp player would you invite for a jam session?
~ All of them! Well, I would invite Gary Primich and Jerry McCain and Little Walter and stand back!

What is your favorite bluesharp brand / type and tell us why?
~ I play Hohner Marine Bands and Marine Band Deluxe models almost exclusively. I have a few Thunderbirds, the low harps, and I love those too. The Marine Band sound and feel is the closest I can get to emulating my heroes, chiefly the Chicago and Memphis masters like Little Walter, Big Walter, Sonny Boy I & II and Noah Lewis.

What are the most important tips you can give to someone who wants to learn to play the bluesharp?
~ Listen a lot to the masters, especially in the first few years. It makes a huge difference if you have all those sounds rolling around in your head. And try to play with other people who will give you a chance to work on your skills. An hour on the stage is worth 5 at home.

Whisky wine beer or ...?
~ Plain unflavored room temperature water when I'm playing, and I do enjoy red wine but more for cooking than drinking these days.

How do you clean your harps?
~ I keep them clean by not eating or drinking anything except water before I play. They last much longer that way and there are no "little surprises" later on.

What is the question interviewers never seem to ask you and...you wish they would? (Please provide your answer as well.)
~ "Do you have any instructional videos for sale, and how can I buy one in a way that benefits the artist the most?"
- Why yes, I do! My 4-hour instructional video, Blues Harmonica Blueprint, is available from Truefire - if you use this link it will give us a better commission. To purchase Instant Download: http://truefire.com/set_cart.html?add=9250 Data DVD plus instant Download: http://truefire.com/set_cart.html?add=9252

Describe the ultimate recording studio (not the technique but the facilities)
~ Sure, aside from lots of cool old mics and amps, Lots of atmosphere. But most of all, a great engineer who you know is looking out for you and won't accidentally erase your best take or pipe feedback in through the headphones. A place you can play quietly and make a big sound.

Are you still nervous before going on stage and if so, do you use any "rituals" to calm you nerves.
~ I used to get nervous all the time. Then I started making myself nervous so I wouldn't be overconfident and mess up. Now I just try to relax and concentrate on the music and remind myself that nothing I've done in the past 24 hours is going to make that much of a difference, but everything I've done over the past 24 years will.

What was the most memorable day in your musical career and tell us why.
~ Playing with Louis and Dave Myers at the Meet Me Here Lounge in Chicago - it was like something out of a movie. It was a tiny club full of local middle-aged couples who as a critical audience had probably helped shape the styles of guys like Howlin' Wolf, Junior Wells, Little Walter, and so on. You could tell that Blues was serious business for them and they weren't thrilled at the prospect of having to boo a little white girl off the stage. Luckily I managed to stumble through on a wing and a prayer and with one of the greatest backup combos that ever was, and they let me stay.

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Picture by Aigars Lapsa

Answers given on March 10, 2016