Exclusive Interview with Dorothy-Jane 'DJ' Gosper
How did you discover the bluesharp ?
~ As a child listening to my father play folk-style harmonica. As a teenager listening to my sister's records, particularly Sonny Terry. In my late 20's my 4 year old son was given a harmonica for his birthday. He wasn't interested in it because it didn't have wheels or an engine, so I picked it up and started playing. I fell hopelessly and helplessly in love with it.
If everything would be possible (waking the dead included) , which bluesharp player would you invite for a jam session?
~ Jim Conway - he inspires me in many ways.
What is your favorite bluesharp brand / type and tell us why?
~ Currently Seydel - Session steels and classics, customised by Big Blind Ray.
What are the most important tips you can give to someone who wants to learn to play the bluesharp?
~ Find a good tutor for one-to-one lessons. Breathe well. Listen to other harp players. Record your playing. Train your ears. Mix up your daily practice with scales, tunes, licks, rhythmic playing. It's a pesky little instrument so expect to be frustrated at times.
Tongue blocking or lip pursing, what do you prefer and tell us why.
~ No preference.
How do you clean your harps?
~ Quick clean: warm water and sterisol; shake and dry in sun. Serious clean: pull apart and place in an electronic jewellery cleaner. Dry in sun.
Describe the ultimate recording studio (not the technique but the facilities)
~ It's a sound-proof cedar yurt at my place. The ambience is warm and live - perfect for an acoustic recording. I play into a Rodes classic microphone - it has a wide range allowing for lots of dynamics. My husband operates the sound desk - he is encouraging and patient as always. The light is dim. I am not paying for studio time. There is no rush. I am relaxed and focused.
Are you still nervous before going on stage and if so, do you use any "rituals" to calm you nerves?
~ I mostly feel a good excited anticipation. To minimise the negative effects of nerves I like to: be well-rehearsed; get to the gig with plenty of time to set-up and sound-check; play with musicians I trust with my songs; drink heaps of water before and during performances; drink a bourbon with a splash of coke between sets. Just occasionally I will get anxious halfway through the first song of the first set. Things that trigger this are: larger than expected audiences; seeing someone in the audience that I admire/want to impress; if I notice the band is being recorded.
What was the most memorable day in your musical career?
~ I can't choose one. The ups and downs have been extreme. So many memorable days are a blurry mix of beautiful, groovy, bluesy years full of music, miles and mates - shifting gear, bad jokes, knock-backs, sore backs, no money, cash money, supporters, reporters, tantrums, doldrums, festivals, motels, dodgy pubs, folky clubs, poster plastering, mixing, mastering, rewarding recording, tragic, magic and really bad rhymes that continue to this day.
Dorothy-Jane "DJ" Gosper. Photos by David Pendragon
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Answers given on April 29, 2016