I mentioned in my introduction to this community that I am a member of a Music club in Germany called the Bluesharmonicatreff-Wetterau e.V. This caused @brianlarsen to ask me about it in the January OM. So I present it here.
Its located in a fairly rural/village type neighbourhood, and its is just within reach of the major city of Frankfurt (One hour by train). Over the Corona period Clublife was pretty minimal, although we tried to keep everybody intouch using Zoom, and having Zoom lessons on how to play the Bluesharp. Since late 2022 the activity has picked up again, and we have been lucky to regain access to a location where we can have Jam’s and Open Stages. We do this on a monthly basis now, and it is gaining traction throughout the whole region. But more importantly, it provides members of the club the opportunity to play, at their level, for an audience (mostly of peers). Within the club we have a number of members just learning the instrument and being content with that, and others really wanting to play on stage. Then of course we have the regular weekly club evenings which are somewhat less organised and where we just play together.
We also organize quite a few workshops for the Bluesharp, and we have participants that sometimes come from quite far. Once a year we have a one day workshop for the guitar.
Two years ago I introduced a colleague of mine, Adrian, from a Choir we belong to, to the Bluesharp Club, and since then we have a practice group, and play regularly together. He is a Ukelele player and an accomplished singer. Because we do not play straight Chicago Blues, the music we play is more difficult to improvise against with the diatonic Bluesharp because the chord sequences (away from I-IV-V) and the number of bars are different between the songs, the Harpers are more challenged, and there is a need to practice together. Still two experienced harpers, Andreas and Sven, liked our song book enough to join us in practice. We have now regular Monday practice sessions, separate from the regular Thursday Clubnite’s. Obviously the first task at hand is to establish more of a repertoire (Learn Songs, Songs, Songs). And we do like to wonder a bit off the beaten track departing from the 12 bar bluespattern.
One of the songs that has been with me for a very longtime, I got from Justin’s Songbooks, back in 2013 I think, which is the Kurt Cobain Version of ‘Where did you sleep last night’ or ‘In the Pines’, which was performed in MTV’s unplugged Nirvana session.
Obviously the song goes back to Ledbelly. In any event it is/was a grateful song to learn, just four chords (even though it has that nasty B major barre chord), and a text that can actually be memorized quite easily ;-), a little bass run and some ‘blues curl’ bending.
After practicing it together, and having played it at previous occasions, we played it yesterday again. We built in enough space for the Harp players to perform their magic, and we (Adrian and I) chose to sing parts of the song in unison. A kind soul sent us his/her recording made with a mobile phone.
The video is really shaky, but the sound came through surprisingly well, without the usual backroom chatter.
Here it is:
Where did you sleep last night : Blues@6
This is a link to Justin’s lesson that started it all: