Exclusive Interview with Randy McQuay
How did you discover the bluesharp ?
~ My Uncle Timmy was an amazing harmonica player. He would play along with me when I started playing guitar. He really encouraged me to play music and the harmonica.
If everything would be possible (waking the dead included) , which bluesharp player would you invite for a jam session?
~ Howard Levy. I would just listen and learn.
What is your favorite bluesharp brand / type and tell us why?
~ I play Lee Oskar Harmonicas exclusively. I enjoy the pro design for playability. I personally prefer plastic combs for bending and durability (they don't swell). LOH offers altered tunings that are great for playing in minor keys and for playing Jazz and different types of World Music. LOH also offers replacement reed plates and other parts to help maintain my harps. Rather than replacing the harmonica, I replace reed plates and parts at a fraction of the cost.
What are the most important tips you can give to someone who wants to learn to play the bluesharp?
~ Practice, Practice, Practice! One of the most advantageous things about learning harmonica is that you can carry it with you and practice nearly anywhere! Use all of the resources available online including our instructional videos @ www.leeoskarquickguide.com
Tongue blocking or lip pursing, what do you prefer and tell us why.
~ I use both and stress the importance of learning each technique. While lip pursing is how I play many bends. Toungue-blocking is very useful for in playing certain lines and splitting chords.
How do you clean your harps?
~ I maintain my harps regularly. I clean them with isopropyl alcohol and a medium toothbrush. Often harmonicas simply have blocked reeds that have been seized by a food particles or debris. Many players use stronger cleaners (Kaboom, Ajax, etc.) which DO work better in cleaning tarnished brass. I use the alcohol as it dries very fast. It seems a little less likely to harm me when potentially inhaled in trace amounts from not thoroughly rinsing, or from reactions with the brass and other metals.
Describe the ultimate recording studio (not the technique but the facilities)
~ Nowadays, tracking can take place anywhere which is great because you can often capture things in the moment to be edited later. However, I love large rooms with versatile sound (having the ability to lay down or remove rugs on floors and/or isolating different areas with sound treated walls . I enjoy a comfortable and clean mixing/ lounge area for listening to playbacks and sharing ideas.
Are you still nervous before going on stage and if so, do you use any "rituals" to calm you nerves?
~ Sure, sometimes. That's feeling I like to chase and conquer. Warming up, ample time for sound checks, and being prepared is what calms my nerves.
What was the most memorable day in your musical career?
~ I think the highlight of my career and most memorable day was winning the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN. The whole event is so amazing and enjoyable. The crowd was very receptive of my performance at The Orpheum Theatre. Walking away with the top prize was a HUGE achievement for me and I felt remarkable hanging on Beale St. for the rest of the evening.
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Answers given on April 29, 2016