Exclusive Interview with Vincent Bucher

Vincent Bucher How did you discover the bluesharp ?
~ My first encounter with the Blues harp happened when I was a teenager listening to rock music. Everytime thy'd be some kind of bluesy harmonica in a song I would get a special kind of thrill . One day I saw a "blues harp" model in a music store, I immediatly bought it thinking I would be able to get this magic sound out of it. I came back home and started to blow and draw; it just sounded like the usual boring harmonica sound. I brought it back to the store, complaining this harmonica "couldn't play no blues" (sic !). The store keeper smiled at me and told me that I might have to learn how to play; woa ! that hadn't crossed my mind ! A couple of years after I got hooked by Blues music and I finally learned how to play the harmonica which still thrills me today as it used to when I was 12 or 13.

If everything would be possible (waking the dead included) , which bluesharp player would you invite for a jam session?
~ I know it's not very original but I have dreamt many times calling up the great Little Walter on stage and going to sit in the audience to listen to him religiously. One day Carey Bell came to my house before a show and we sat together blowing for a couple of songs; that was pretty surreal to play with someone I ve been listening on albums for so many years !

What is your favorite blues harp brand / type and tell us why?
~ Definitly the Marine Band! Specially the Deluxe and the Crossover. I m used with the size of the harp itself and it has a way of "ringing" and a tone that I feel at home with.

What are the most important tips you can give to someone who wants to learn to play the bluesharp?
~ The usual rap: have fun, practic, feel the music etc... but also keep in mind the harmonica is a very distinctive voice with its own poetry, please never forget that !

Tongue blocking or lip pursing, what do you prefer and tell us why.
~ I started playing, isolating the hole by curving the tongue, today I alternate that and tongue blocking with lip pursing on a few occasions. I can't really formulate the reasons why; I guess I like the tone and that's where my experience led me.

Give us the 3 most important albums every (beginning) blues harp player must buy.
~ I don't really have album titles in mind (for what it means nowadays !) but I'd say get music by Sonny Terry, John lee Williamson (Sonny Boy 1st), Rice Miller (Sonny boy 2nd), Big Walter Horton, Papa Lightfoot and of course Little Walter (sorry it's more than three I know !) Blues harmonica like Blues music is a galaxy; you can find magic in many places !

How do you clean your harps?
~ I don't really clean my harps, I tapp them to get the saliva out when I feel the need and I keep them in a clean dry place but I don't have special tips.

What is the question interviewers never seem to ask you and...you wish they would? (Please provide your answer as well.)
~ What kind of harp player are you? I am a blues harmonica player that never could emulate my idols so I guess I had to find my own language.

Describe the ultimate recording studio (not the technique but the facilities)
~ A great sounding room with natural light available where people can play and record together !

Are you still nervous before going on stage and if so, do you use any "rituals" to calm you nerves?
~ I always thought I didn't have any stage fright (except on certain occasions) until I realized that feeling sleepy before a show (which happens to me a lot) was actually a sign of "butterflies". I ve tried different kind of rituals but they don't seem to work more than once or twice so for now I'm just focusing on being emotionnally connected and available.

What was the most memorable day in your musical career?
~ I ve had so many ! and hopefully a lot more to come but I remember playing in Burkina Faso in a "maquis" (the African version of a juke joint) with the malian guitarist and singer Lobi Traore. The place was packed with sweaty and amazing dancers, we were all plugged in an old tube sound system with a natural distortion. We played the whole night and the connection between the players and the dancers (no one was sitting) was so intense, the music was funky as hell ! I will never forget that !

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Answers given on August 17, 2016
Photo by Patrick Guillemin