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Saturday, February 05, 2005

Who is Out There?

When I began this web log last December, I was convinced that no one would ever read it. I certainly didn't plan on publicizing its existence. Blogging is a self-indulgent activity, sort of like tagging a wall with grafitti. There are millions of folks writing blogs now - I have read quite a few. While some grab larger themes, others are a record an individual's random thoughts. My stuff falls into the "random thoughts" category. But I do wonder - who is out there? Blogging sometimes increases my feelings of insignificance.

I dropped in on Joe Filisko blues harmonica class at the Old Town School of Folk Music last Monday night. Joe is one of the most self-disciplined people I know. He took his abilities as a machinist and became the world's first "harmonica technician" - a guy that takes a $20 Marine Band Harmonica and reconstructs it into a world-class musical instrument. Now, there is a small "guild" of harmonica techs around the world - many trained by Joe. He also is a relentless harmonica historian - he knows heaps of obscure facts about the instrument and the people who have played it. And Joe is a killer harp player - off the charts, really. All of this is wrapped together into his teaching sessions on Monday. It is hard to find a teacher who cares more about his subject matter than Joe Filisko.

The folks in Joe's class range in age from late teens to late 50's (now that Ed Wasserman has passed away, I am one of the older guys). It is terrific to be part of a mixed-age group with common interests. Musical skill levels vary in the group, but everyone has reached the "intermediate" level as harmonica players. We play, we sing, we study. And we are working on improving some of the most obscure and meaningless skills on the planet. When you become a harmonica nerd, you obsess on weird things - tongue blocking, draw bends, blow bends, tongue switching, and more.

There are not many people out there that care about this stuff.

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