When I started playing, almost 30 years ago, the only way to gain harmonica knowledge was to buy records, and attend local blues gigs, hoping to see good players. I was fortunate to meet some great players early on, who mentored me, and showed me how to explore the harmonica world. Also, Chess reissued many of their classic 1950’s blues recordings at that time. I was able to buy these at greatly reduced prices in bagain bins. My Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson II and Howling Wolf double albums are now cherished (and much used) treasures.
The Internet opens the world of harmonica to all of us (this course being an example!). Becoming harmonica literate is now far easier. Below are links to harmonica players and harmonica resource sites. Work through these slowly, and absorb the wisdom they contain.
Links to Players
Mike Stevens is a prolific and very highly regarded Canadian player, specializing in Bluegrass and other styles. He has performed with many Bluegrass greats, including Jim and Jesse, and has authored the instructional book "Bluegrass Harmonica", distributed by Hal Leonard.
Brendan Power is probably the best known player of Irish harmonica, due to his album "New Irish Harmonica" and his work with the Riverdance show. However, he plays a wide variety of styles, as his web site indicates. He uses altered tunings extensively, which enable stunning ornamentation for his Irish playing on chromatic harmonicas. His approach to Irish styles is outlined in his book "Irish Music on the Blues Harp," and is highly recommended
Matyas Pribojszki is a wonderful Hungarian player who plays blues, even though he is from Eastern Europe.
Tom Ball is a prolific recording artist and and author, best known for his long standing duo with Kenny Sultan. He has produced many harmonica teaching books, including a sourcebook of Little Water/Big Walter licks.
Jason Ricci, from the USA, is considered to be one of the most exciting new players in the world. His music is based on blues, however his style is totally unique.
PT Gazell is from Nashville Tennesse, in the USA. His playing is based more on country music than blues. His is a pioneer in bluegrass harmonica, and has recently released a stunning jazz CD.
Howard Levy, from Chicago, is considered the most advanced harmonica player in the world. Follow the link and you will understand why.
Hazmat Modine are a very unusual band from New York city, featuring wonderful harmonica players.
Shtreiml are a Canadian band, featuring Jason Rosenblat on harmonica. The band is influenced by traditional Jewish music.
Mark Hummel is considered amongst the greatest of the current generation of American blues players.
Willi Burger is a very well known classical chromatic harmonica player. He tours and records widely. Visit his site to hear clips of this extraordinary player.
Adam Gussow is a well known blues player who has created a wonderful series of YouTube harmonica instruction videos.
Links to Harmonica Resources
Homespun tapes provide excellent resources for learning tunes. In particular, Steve Kaufman’s four hour Bluegrass workout is a complete resource for learning the basic bluegrass tune repertoire. Similarly, "121 Favorite Irish Session Tunes", by L.E. McCullough provides the essential foundation for Irish session playing.
Band in a Box is the metronome for the 21st century. In particular, it helps build the technique to enable a beginning player to join with others. Essentially you can set a backing band to any speed (or key), then slowly increase tempo while gaining familiarity with a new tune. I have used this software extensively for practice, and cannot recommend it highly enough
Harmonica Jam provides jam tracks for home recordings, which users then post on the site. The environment is supportive, and beginners are welcomed. A great resource.
Pat Missin is a well known source of harmonica information. In particular, his site has a detailed overview on harmonica tuning(s).
Diatonic Harmonica Reference. Put together by Mike Will, this is a detailed and well known harmonica information source.
National Harmonica League is a UK based organisation. Their website has a terrific links page.
Harp-l. This is the major English language harmonica list, with mostly a US focus. Definitely worthwhile, I read it most days. Any question will be answered, sometimes by famous players. The archives are available on Yahoo and Google Groups.
Harmonica Cases In recent years custom products for harmonica players have become more common. Hetrick Harmonica make harmonica cases, designed for serious players. They are endorsed by Jimmi Lee, the great Texas based harmonica player and singer.
Harp On! Harmonica Resources is a well organised collection of harmonica resources by G, a NZ based harmonica player and customiser.
A complete set of harmonica resources by player and author Glenn Weiser. Glenn is the author of the excellent “Irish and American Fiddle Tunes for Harmonica ”
Blues Harmonica Tutorial Videos The “Squeeze My Lemon” blues blog by Fitzgerald has a page with a good collection of blues harmonica YouTube tutorials
Wanderin’ Wilf’s Harp Surgery Excellent site, with in depth reviews and tuition. Includes a well written blog (complete with pictures).
Riverboat Captain Music Blog: Background info and YouTube links to seminal blues artists (and others)
Aprenda a Tocar la Armónica: Online harmonica lessons in Spanish!
Links to Traditional Music Resources
Traditional Irish Music – a well organised site with many Irish music links