Exclusive Interview with Ben Henry Edwards
How did you discover the bluesharp?
~ My father. He was a big blues fan. I have vivid memories of watching the Blues Brothers film with him and being moved by the harmonica in the song 'She caught the katy.' I must of been 10 or so.
If everything would be possible (waking the dead included) , which bluesharp player would you invite for a jam session?
~ The obvious choice is Little Walter, but I would also ask Taj Mahal and Steve West Weston.
What is your favorite blues harp brand / type and tell us why?
~ Seydel 1847 session Steel. The reeds last for a very long time and as I tend to play loudly this helps. I'm working on relaxing this old habit!
What are the most important tips you can give to someone who wants to learn to play the bluesharp?
~ Practise long notes, especially the bends. Pitch these to a drone.
Learn the diatonic harmony chord shapes.
Practise tongue blocking.
Tongue blocking or lip pursing, what do you prefer and tell us why.
~ Both. I'm working on becoming a TB player. Not there yet but soon hopefully! I practise only TP at home.
Give us the 3 most important albums every (beginning) blues harp player must buy.
~ Any early Muddy Waters recording including Little Walter.
Taj Mahal 'The Natch'l Blues'
Levon Helm and RCA All stars (1977 recording).
How do you clean your harps?
~ I don't. Not sure I know many who do! I think your question should be 'Can you tune your reeds?' And the answer is yes. Thanks to Brendan Power. He's had an enormous influence. A living master of the harmonica.
What is the question interviewers never seem to ask you and...you wish they would? (Please provide your answer as well.)
~ Most interviewers assume that harmonica players don't understand about composition and harmony.
Describe the ultimate recording studio (not the technique but the facilities)
~ I've recorded at Real World studios. That was special. I would transport that studio, it's vibe and location and place it in Northern California.
Are you still nervous before going on stage and if so, do you use any 'rituals' to calm you nerves?
~ Yes. I try not to eat too much before playing and remember to play for myself instead of trying to impress the musicians in the audience or on stage. I also try to make as much eye contact with the band. This helps.
What was the most memorable day in your musical career?
~ Headlining in 2009 at Les Vieilles Charrs festival, Brittany with Charlie Winston infront of 55,000 people.
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Answers given on November 2, 2016