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Finally, after nearly four years, a project near and dear to Hermonicas is coming to fruition! Next month RUF Records will be releasing the first album ever made of women blues harmonica players! More than a hundred years since the first harmonica recordings were made, women players are finally getting their place in the spotlight. We want to thank Thomas Ruf, who stayed with this project even though he never expected to make a profit from it and it was not easy dealing with more than 30 performers. His foresight and vision has made it possible for women harp players to get some long overdue attention. The gals featured on the double album come from all around the world; America, England, France, Sweden, Germany, Australia and Canada. More details coming soon, stay tuned!

SEPTEMBER 25, 2011
Middletown, New York
Roxy Perry, the "Queen of New York Blues," produced and hosted a special awards program, honoring Blues Hall of Fame nominees from New York State, on September 25, 2011. The all-day program was organized and emceed by Perry, the Blues Hall of Fame National Ambassador. It was a celebration of the area’s finest blues artists, acknowledging their career-long hard work, dedication, and accomplishments.

Artists, in order of induction were Bob Fusco, Papa John Mole, Pete Hop, Rhett Tyler, Dave Keyes, Little Melvin Underwood, Jerry Dugger, SaRon Crenshaw, Junior Mack, Barry Harrison and Michael Packer.  Brian Remaly accepted the induction for his venue, Brian's Backyard BBQ. Videographer, Oscar Rivera, recorded performances and inductions for the official Blues Hall of Fame archives. More here.


    Roxy jams with inductees.


The Stacy Jones Band from Seattle, winner of the 2010 Best Female Vocalist and 2009 Best New Band awards from the Washington Blues Society, has released a new CD of 12 original songs. The band has been working hard on the new album since last spring. "New and long time fans of the Stacy Jones Band will not be dissapointed. On the tails of their 2010 release Long Time Comin', the band continues to bring their excellent musicianship, songwriting and dynamic arrangements forward with this new release." ---- Todd Harrison (Washington Blues Blog)  More here.



Muddy Waters son, Big Bill Morganfield, called on Cheryl Arena to accompany him in an appearance at the King Biscuit Blues Festival in West Helena, Arkansas recently. The Texas harmonicist was well received by the crowd and the critics. "Sunshine" Sonny Payne, the legendary, ageless host of the world's longest running blues show, The King Biscuit hour, came on stage to announce the next act and told the crowd, "That girl is an amazing harmonica player, she's great!" He invited Cheryl to drop in on his daily radio show and interviewed her and played a few of her songs. She considered this a huge compliment and said, "What a huge compliment that is for me, seeing that he had Sonny Boy Williamson on his show daily (for many years)." Listen to Cheryl's interview here.


October 2011
Maui Tour—or I left my Heart in Makawao

Philbillie (my partner, guitar slinger, road manager and engineer/producer) grew up on Maui playing, cutting his teeth in the clubs.  His dad put in the first FM rock radio station on Maui. Philbillie's sister had recently moved back with her two boys, so I thought it was high time that we put together a tour and take the occasion to visit them.

Turns out everyone wants to go to Maui.  We brought along bass player  Dave Newman, and the fabulous Eric McFadden www.ericmcfadden.com

who has played with P-Funk, Eric Burdon, and lots of famous folk too numerous to name here.  Let's just say he's one hot guitar guy. 


While there, we had the good fortune to hook up with a great drummer, Josh Greenbaum, who we wanted to steal away from the island and bring him back to SF.  Might just steal him yet.

We got to stay in a beautiful place, Rainbow Acres, way up a windy road on a mountain in a eucalyptus forest.  It’s a farm where they grow and sell all kinds of succulents and cacti.  Wherever we went we were making fast new friends and fans.

Philbillie had some old radio contacts and we played a benefit for the community radio station there, Radio Mana'o, making fast friends with the DJs there, especially singer/songwriters Dorothy Betz and Les Adams www.betzandadam.com.  Here's a shot of us all jammed into the tiny studio there.

Touring a new market for the first time can be worrisome. You just don’t know if anyone’s gonna’ show up to hear you, especially if they never heard of you.  We had a number of club dates in the tourist part of the island, Kihei, and as the word got out, (on the coconut wireless as they call it)  more and more folks came to see us.

 We got to play Charlie’s, Willy Nelson’s hangout, which was really fun, and by the time we did the Radio Mana’o benefit at Casanova, they had one of the best turnouts they ever had in something like fifteen years of benefits.   

One of the high points was a house concert that was put together by master guitar-builder Stephen Grimes www.grimesguitars.com.  This guy has built guitars for George Benson (four of ‘em!), Leo Kottke, Willy Nelson, Larry Coryell and the list goes on.  We got to hang in his studio and play with crazy-ass amazing guitars!  Ukuleles , too.  By the way, you better pronounce it right over there—that’s oo-koo-lay-lay.  It’ll save you a few scowls if you say it right.  Steve had put together a very cool house concert for us.  It was the first one he did, and it pretty much sold out. 

Here’s Dave Newman playing a Steve Grimes guitar:

If the Tiki gods are willing, we’ll be back in March for another tour, since we’ve had a festival offer.  Another chance to go back to paradise.  It is paradise, yes, but only for the people who are there who make it so.  Aloha and mahalo.



(Aug 2011)

Isabella Krapf has returned home to Austria from a visit to Pyongyang, North Korea. She was chosen to teach about 90 students in chromatic harmonica techniques and repair methods. It was the first visit of a chromatic harmonica teacher to this unusual city. She describes it as "thrilling and breathtaking!" The Cultural Ministry of Pyongyang selected Isabella after a lengthy search. "They especially wanted to have somebody who teaches at the University of Music, so they finally found me," she recalls.

A North Korean conductor who spoke very good German translated Isabella's lessons. And she learned a few Korean words--enough to teach some classes alone. "We laughed a lot and we played a lot of music," she remembers. "The students really liked me and they were crazy about taking pictures with me. There were outstanding talents among the students but it's not only the talent - they are determined to reach their goals and become really good. So the concert level was amazingly high. They also never gave up on anything. They tried it until it was perfect. They had great respect and discipline. They really wanted to learn."

Isabella says politics was never a topic with the students, they were only interested in music. "After three weeks we made enormous progress and some of them played real difficult stuff in small ensembles," she recalls. "On the last day we had a smashing concert with North Korean songs as well as American and Austrian Music. Everybody was very sad when I left, so I promised to come back again soon for another concert project."

The event was professionally filmed and recorded by a camera crew from a television station, so videos may be available before long.



UPDATE December 2011

Isabella returned to North Korea again in November and in December, fifteen North Korean Students came to Vienna to study harmonica with her. They will stay for one year and will give some concerts in addition to their studies.





Thunder Bay, Ontario's Tracy K put together an eight-week all-Canada tour which started in September.


JENNY KERR  performed at the very first Just Strings Festival  in Geyserville, California on August 14 at 5 p.m. Other performers at the two day festival www.juststringsamusicfestival.com included: David Grisman, Yousoupha Sidibe and Charles Neville. The Jenny Kerr Band also toured Maui for the first time in August and September.


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