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Author Topic: Playing harp on TV  (Read 897 times)

Matt

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Playing harp on TV
« on: March 26, 2015, 11:31:25 PM »
Recently our band was fortunate to be filmed for a local TV program which was doing a story about the venue we were playing at. We had no delusions of fame and fortune from this exercise, but thought it might at least help with promo and marketing of our new CD which we are finishing off. The program hasn't aired yet so I don't know how much band footage they used.
A week ago the promoter of a major blues festival which we are playing at contacted us saying they were going to do some TV marketing for the festival. As it turns out the same TV program is recording the segment for marketing and they (the production crew) asked for us to be featured along with two other artists (they already had footage of us and they liked our sound). We agreed of course. I have just returned from being interviewed and filmed for the show.

Everything was going well, Andrew and I were talking up the festival and local bands, as you do, and discussing blues music in general. Then the producer decided that the novelty of the harmonica was something the story should focus on in a bit more detail. Uh-oh. They wanted to film inside my harp case and have me explain why there was so much gear in there and why I needed so many harps (I typically carry about 25-30 harps, two bullet mics, a long and a short cable, two pedals, two patch cables and a 4-way power board, I had included my chromatic as well, thinking its larger size might work better visually for TV). I told them that looking inside my harp case was a little bit like peering into my sock drawer (fearing what items apart from my music gear might be lurking in the nooks and crannies - there might be literally anything hiding in my harp case!). So I pulled out my black and chrome JT30 and that seemed to take their attention away from my harp case. So I got a chance to promote harmonica on TV, by talking about vintage mics, different harps, and different blues genres. I hope I did a good job and whet people's appetite for this instrument, though I really can't be sure how well I portrayed harps or harp players. I guess I will find out when the show airs on May 10.

Then something scary happened - they asked me to play 'something' for the camera. Shit. Don't get me wrong, I play well enough not embarass myself, but being put on the spot like that did get the nerves tingling. While this show is a local production, it rates fairly well and is broadcast over a wide area. Lots of people would see and hear my harp. I could just feel the eyes and ears of every harp player with television access scrutinising my every note!
Anyway, I choose a Marine Band Crossover in C and played a generic run with a 4/5 double stop with some agressive vibrato, then threw in the obligatory warble for the kiddies, and did a scalar run down to the root and then rolled off to the 1 draw. That seemed to satisfy them , but to me it was awful. So I told them I would have another go and this time I played only slightly better. Bugger those nerves! I think I still did alright, generally speaking, even if it was far from my best. Most viewers will probably think it is great but harp players might know better  ;)

After the interview was over and the cameras were packed up, the produciton crew kept firing questions about harmonica at me. Is it hard to learn? How much does a good harmonica cost? Where did you learn how to play? How long have you been playing for? etc, etc. There were five or six people in the discussion. So out of all of this the point that is perhaps most significant is that people everywhere are still fascinated by this little powerhouse of an instrument, and our humble tin sandwich still carries an air of mystery, and novelty, and genuine intrigue for a lot of folks. I was sure that the boom in harmonica popularity which seems to have been sweeping the globe over at least the last three to five years had dispelled the myths and mysteries, and that most people knew a lot more about harp than ever. Apparently this is not true, and there is still a huge demographic of ignorance about the amazing music the harp can create.

I'm grateful for the chance to promote harp to a wider audience, and I sincerely hope I did all of us proud, even if I might have played better for the camera under calmer circumstances. Live and learn.

Rick

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Re: Playing harp on TV
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2015, 06:02:01 PM »
Hi Matt,
What a cool story!  Awesome!
And the telling of it, goes from one thread to the next bigger thread, to the next bigger thread.

It is amazing how you got the production companies interest and held it!   Good Man!   Maybe the local show will get on youtube so we can all watch it.

These are for you:
 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8)

Ha ha,

  Rick

Matt

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Re: Playing harp on TV
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2015, 06:16:43 PM »
Thanks, Rick! Feeling a bit anxious about it now  :-[

Blue boy

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Re: Playing harp on TV
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2015, 03:12:34 PM »
Great story, Matt, and well told! I really liked what you wrote concerning the harp as a " little powerhouse of an instrument". That phrase captures it and so well describes its hold on me!
Thanks,
Bob (aka Blue boy)