Exclusive Interview with Lukasz Pietrzak

Lukasz Pietrzak How did you discover the bluesharp?
~ When I was in High School I went with my friends to probably the one and only jazz club in my hometown. By some kind of luck (or God's touch I guess) couple of musicians there were jammin and I've heard the bluesharp for the first time. I couldn't believe my ears that so small instrument can make such huge expression and... that was it. Love at first sight :) I spent all my savings to buy first harmonica (Hohner Marine Band Classic) and the next week I asked this harp player to show me some basic stuff. His name is Kuba and since then we're very good friends (even if we don't live in the same town anymore).

If everything would be possible (waking the dead included) , which bluesharp player would you invite for a jam session?
~ Hard question, since I had a pleasure to jam together with so many great harmonica players so far and every time it was a great experience. I always wanted to share the stage with Toots Thielemans. He's musical taste was something completely out of this world. Would be great to bring back living Norton Buffalo and Chris Michalek. I love their approach to making music.

What is your favorite blues harp brand / type and tell us why?
~ Well I'm a Seydel endorser and my fauvorite model is their 1847 Classic with steel reeds. Love the warm, sax sound of this harmonica, stylish look and durability of reeds. Great harp!

What are the most important tips you can give to someone who wants to learn to play the bluesharp?
~ Try to spend as much time as it's possible with your instrument. Don't leave the exercises for one day, it's always better to spend 15 minutes or half an hour on exercises every day then to leave them for one free day during the week. Also remember that rhytm & sound are the most important things in music. You can play just one note with good sound and in the right time and you will know that's the one you've been always lookin' for :)

Tongue blocking or lip pursing, what do you prefer and tell us why.
~ Why to separate these two? Both techniques are very important to learn, I never wanted to avoid one of them at the expense of another. The possibilities of rhytm playing by using tongue blocking are extremely wide and lip pursing gives you so many ways to express yourself with another new phrases.

Give us the 3 most important albums every (beginning) blues harp player must buy.
~ Another hard question, since there's so many of them :) I would say Sonny Boy Williamson's II "Down and Out Blues". Greg Zlap's "Road Movies" was probably the one I listened almost every day when I was beginner. Now one of my fauvorites is "Hope" by Mountain Men (with great Ian Giddey on a harmonica!)

How do you clean your harps?
~ Dish soap, soft tooth brush and lots of room temparuture water. I'm cleaning every part of my harmonica when I decide that's the time to do it (it really depends on how much time you're spending with your instrument). I also try to brush my teeth before playing.

What is the question interviewers never seem to ask you and...you wish they would? (Please provide your answer as well.)
~ "Where the hell he had learned to dance on the stage like that?" :) Well, the answer is: I didn't...

Describe the ultimate recording studio (not the technique but the facilities)
~ I do care more about people which I'm recording with (musicians and sound engineers) than the facilities. The atmosphere in recording studio is very important thing that makes huge difference. If you don't believe me, just listen to "Little Village" on Sonny Boy's II album called "Bummer Road" :)

Are you still nervous before going on stage and if so, do you use any "rituals" to calm you nerves?
~ I always got this thrill on my back before going on stage wherever it is. I think without that I would just stop playing.

What was the most memorable day in your musical career?
~ Wow... There are so many of them. I'm very happy and proud of all of these days but I know there's still a lot of work to do and I'm trying to focus on that.

Lukasz Pietrzak

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Answers given on November 27, 2016
Photos by Marcin Swidzinski