Exclusive Interview with Hans 'Homesick' de Vries
How did you discover the bluesharp?
~ I was playing in a bluesband and spontaneously a friend of us introduced a guestplayer on harmonica named John Lagrand . For us he was Hollands best harmonicaplayer so we were really excited. To play with John was truly inspiring, it pushed me into picking up the bluesharp myself !
If everything would be possible (waking the dead included) , which bluesharp player would you invite for a jam session?
~ Surely John Lagrand, I would be proud to let him hear the way I plays songs in a band he was the former harpplayer in.
What is your favorite blues harp brand / type and tell us why?
~ Seydell Noble when I can afford it and second best is a Hohner JJ Milteau signature ( for some keys) or Marine band deluxe but I must admit that I also adore a few of my pretty nice handmade Huang Silvertones.
What are the most important tips you can give to someone who wants to learn to play the bluesharp?
~ Most important: Breath don't blow !!
Tongue blocking or lip pursing, what do you prefer and tell us why.
~ Lip pursing just seems easier to me. Gives a nice dynamic combination while combining with chordplaying.
Give us the 3 most important albums every (beginning) blues harp player must buy.
~ Cross Roads - Sugar Blue; he's the guy that played the famous lick on Miss You ( Rolling Stones)
Béla Fleck and the Flecktones; the first album by the band of the same name, released in 1990 This is when I First encountered Howard Levy not knowing about his incredible technique. A must hear !
Levon Helm & The RCO All-Stars; faboulus album with Paul Butterfield at his best .
How do you clean your harps?
~ Just rinse them in warm water and sometimes open them up and clean the insides and the plates with an old toothbrush and toothpaste. And checking and adjusting the reeds a bit with a feeler gauge.
What is the question interviewers never seem to ask you and...you wish they would? (Please provide your answer as well.)
~ What makes your playing special, what's your specialty?
Well, I'm not a virtuoso, but I'm happy to know what I'm doing! Or should I say I know what to do not, because that's equally important when you're making music: You have to know what you shouldn't do and when to shut up!
My specialty is playing Louisiana Cajun en Zydeco style on the harmonica. Simple but fast melodies. I'm interested in all kind of styles, not just blues. That's why I'm not fond of playing with a bullet mike. Gives a raw but blurry sound. Only few good players can handle that, surely not me.
Describe the ultimate recording studio (not the technique but the facilities)
~ Among good and inspiring musicians music sounds good even when you record it with a cassette-player. I mean, I like tube compressors and tube mikes, but the most important is the inspiration.
Are you still nervous before going on stage and if so, do you use any "rituals" to calm you nerves?
~ I was never nervous untill that came up a few years ago. But that's gone when I'm entering the venue or festival where the concert takes place.
What was the most memorable day in your musical career?
~ May sound cliché, but I try to make everyday and every concert memorable. That's what audience is coming for !
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Answers given on December 11, 2016