Exclusive Interview with Yvonnick Prene

Yvonnick Prene How did you discover the bluesharp ?
~ I discovered Blues through listening to my father CDs collection.
That's how I found out about The Rolling Stone, Jean-Jacques Milteau, Sugar Blue and Sonny Boy Williamson. After this initial introduction with blues harp when I was just 7, I started to learn harmonica techniques with "Beginning Blues Harp", by Don Baker. It's not until high school that I switched to the chromatic harmonica and jazz.

If everything would be possible (waking the dead included), which bluesharp player would you invite for a jam session?
~ If I had to choose only one, I would trade choruses with Little Walter!

What is your favorite blues harp brand / type and tell us why?
~ I usually like to play diatonic harps made by Hohner, Suzuki and Easttop but I don't have a favorite model. They all make great quality instruments.

What are the most important tips you can give to someone who wants to learn to play the bluesharp?
~ Make sure to have the harmonica deep in your mouth so that your blowing is not wasted. Try to relax and breath in gently especially in the first three hole.

Give us the 3 most important albums every (beginning) blues harp player must buy.
~ Jean-Jacques Milteau Explorer, 1995
Sonny Terry, Live at Penelope Café 1967
Little Walter, The Chess 50th Anniversary Collection,

Are you still nervous before going on stage and if so, do you use any "rituals" to calm you nerves?
~ I always try to make sure I know well the repertoire before the show. Heading to the stage I found that just breathing deeply helps me to focus on music and relax.

What was the most memorable day in your musical career?
~ It's probably when I recorded my last album "Breathe" in New York City, featuring Peter Bernstein on guitar. It was a lot of fun! This is one of the videos shot during the session of an original tune entitled "Breathe".
This month I'm also launching Harmonica Studio, a unique web platform that includes over 200 video/audio lessons, designed to help chromatic harmonica players to become better musicians and more confident improvisers. Try your free 3-Day membership today!

Yvonnick Prene

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Answers given on November 6, 2017
Photos by Jean-Philippe Cypres and Joseph Bologne