Joe’s Harmonica and Session Notes for On the Move and Solid Ground

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ON THE MOVE by Joe Filisko and Eric Noden – We were happy with our decision to record again at Joyride Studios with the Wizard, Blaise Barton, engineering and co producing. I used my RCA 77 ribbon to record the harp and played through my trusty Harmony H-189 amplifier with my American DT5 mic with my RCA 44 on the amp.  We recorded the duo songs on July 16, 2014, except for Sinking In Love, and the trio songs with Beau Sample on July 17, 2014.  Kevin and Justin were the interns for the recording and Ryan Hogg was there for the mastering.  We were successful at recording everything live with no overdubs. JF

ON THE MOVE – Our first co-written song. I came up with the lyrics while on tour in the EU. Eric came up with the melody, harmony and form. I insisted that it needed a bridge and I think he nailed it. Happy to have found a cool way to play the bridge melody along with the droning 1 inhale note. I originally used this in a song I wrote specially for the Chapel Hill Harmonica Summit called, “Lost Joe”.  Also happy to have found a way to give a nod to all the great “nose” players of the past, Peg Leg Sam being the most notable.  Used a “LF” Marine Band Thunderbird for the second harp and a “Bb” for everything else. This songs groove is squarely in the Old-Timey tradition of playing the FoxChase and LostJohn harmonica pieces.  So nice to have Beau Sample playing bass. JF

MYSTERY – Eric’s song that is another tribute to Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.  Harp solo was a little tricky due to the non traditional chords but I am trying as hard as I can to recreate the licks, phrasing and tone of Sonny on a “C” harp played in the key of “G”. JF

KICK MYSELF – Inspiration comes from just paying attention and not losing ones sense of humor.  Tried many approaches harp wise but settled on using a “Bb” harp in the key of “Eb”.  Love that kazoo of Eric’s!  It is his voice saying “short attention span”.  Got ideas for other verses?  Send ’em my way.  JF

COMPLICATE – Eric’s song inspired in part by Mississippi John Hurt.  Quite a challenge to come up with a part that can actually add to a song with a full guitar accompaniment like this.  Decided to use the “organ sustaining” accordion-like approach with full round sustaining chords.  Used a “B” harp for the F# major III chord. The melody is actually played on a “G” harp which also gives you the IV chord when played in the key of “D”. Happy to report that this song has NO note bending!  I am indeed proud of this!  JF

SONIC BREAKDOWN – Eric’s song. I’m just trying to rip it up as much as possible in the Chicago Blues amplified harp tradition except for the bridge which is pure Cajun with all those different tongue split intervals. That is indeed me singing through the harp mic.  This is in the key of “D” played on a “G” harp.  Do check out the full band version on the Solid Ground CD.  JF

ALWAYS THERE FOR ME – Blues love song for my wife played mostly in the tradition of Sonny Boy “John Lee” Williamson and his song, “Tell Me Baby”. Great to have Beau playing on it and taking a solo.  In the key of “F” played on a “Bb” harp.  JF

BUCKEYE RAG – Our second co-written song. Eric came up with the form and changes and I came up with the melody.  Played cupping a can for extra resonance. Settled on the name as we both actually lived in the state of Ohio at the same time earlier in our lives. This is in the key of “E” played on an “A” harp with a “B” harp used in the guitar solo to get that “F#” and “B” chord.  JF

I LIKE A WOMAN – Noden’s song. I was going for an amped up Sonny Boy I type of thing really working the blues scale as much as possible with a minimum of exhaling notes.  I really love the ornery sound of the “rapid tongue vamping”, underneath the hole 5 inhale which dominates the harp sound in the song.  This is in the key of “G” and played on a “C” harp.  Please note that we also recorded a full band version on the Solid Ground CD.  JF

PEACEFUL MAN – Noden’s second tribute to Mississippi John Hurt. The harp is a pretty straight ahead “train imitation” groove.  Nothing captures the feel of a train like the harmonica.  Played on a “Bb” harp in the key of “F”.  JF

SINKING IN LOVE – Noden’s tune that we actually recorded during the Missed Train Blues sessions a few years back and decided to use for this release.  Certainly a showcase for the Marine Band Thunderbird in “LLF” taking on the role of playing bass with a tuba flavored!  Also a followup to Buster Brown’s Madison Blues and George Smith’s Juicy Harmonica. I also used a can for resonance on the cut. JF

WORST ENEMY – Another tune that came together by just paying attention to the negativity around me including my own.  The melody comes from the blues standard, “Sitting On Top of the World”.  The Marine Band Thunderbird “LA” harp part is inspired by Rice Miller (Sonny Boy II). Eric is actually playing the second harp on a regular “A” in the key of “E”.  JF

DOWN IN NEW ORLEANS – Eric’s tune written a few years back. Since I am more than ever into 2 chord songs, this seemed perfect. All the songs riffs can be played with no bending.  The other Cajunish sections are somewhat improvised.  I am tending to mainly use the split-3 tongue block position to get a little more of that accordion sound on a “C” harp in the key of “C”.  JF

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SOLID GROUND by ERIC NODEN BAND  Recorded on July 29 & 30, 2014 at Joyride Studios with Brian Leach engineering and Ryan Hogg working as an intern.  Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith playing drums and EG McDaniel playing bass.  The Wizard, Blaise Barton, was responsible for the editing, mixing and mastering.

SOLID GROUND – In the key of “D” using a “G”.  Harp is in the strict role of playing accompaniment with no intensional variation which is likely much harder than you may expect. The chordal effect sound of the “shake” is featured. Over the IV chord I’m using the split-3 interval exhaling on holes 1 & 3.  Note the long sustaining going on. Eric wanted some more chunky rhythm going on so instead of overdubbing a guitar we overdubbed a rhythm harp part with me mainly playing low chords on the “G” articulating “tuc-kuh-tuc-kuh”, like a slow train pattern only inhaling.  Recorded on 7/29/14

SECOND DAY OF JUNE – In the key of “D”, playing straight ahead 2nd position blues scale riffs on a “G”.  I had an abundance of hand tremolo going on during the solo.  I also used my alternate Harmony H-189 amp with an Astastic bullet prepared for me by Dennis “Mr. Microphone” Oellig.  The tone is more distorted which I thought would make a nice variation. Recorded on 7/30/14

CAN’T STAND TO LOSE YOU – Blues shuffle in the key of “E” using both an “A” and “LE” harp and played acoustically.  Eric wanted a Jimmy Reed vibe happening so the harp solos are attempting to capture that aside from the octaves which I couldn’t help adding. The rhythm is straight ahead “in in out out” shuffle chording on the “A” with fills added too. Recorded on 7/29/14

RHYME OR REASON – In the key of “F#m” played on a “LE” Thunderbird Marine Band. Mostly playing fills and joining in on the hook.  Recorded on 7/29/14

INCIDENT – In the key of “Em” played on a “LD” and mainly just doing fills. There is also a rhythm harp overdubbed and played on a “C” harp.  Recorded on 7/29/14

SIKTH SENSE – Shuffle in the key of “Em” played on a “LF” Thunderbird Marine Band.  This is the only tune Eric didn’t write on the record.  We had originally intended to use it for the duo/trio record and decided to record it with the band.  The growling/gravely sound is the snoring type of sound that I worked up years ago trying to imitate Gwen Foster. Seems to give the song an ominous quality.  I am most intensionally trying to recreate Rice Miller’s repetitive three note lick.  My study song, 6-P Blues will help to shed some light on the licks here. This is dedicated to Eddie Mapp who appears to be the first person to record in this position.  Recorded on 7/30/14

ALASKA – in the key of “D” and played on a “G”. Playing accompaniment using the “train whistle sustaining” approach.  Playing the notes, splits and chords are very easy.  Playing them with the correct amount of sustain is quite another story.  Recorded on 7/30/14

FIX IT TOMORROW – In the key of “E” played on an “A”.  Tricky arrangement that requires knowing the entire song form.  I believe I’m using the Sonny Terry like tongue shake chordal effect over the C#m chord.  Recorded on 7/30/14

I LIKE A WOMAN – Played acoustic on a “C” harp in the key of “G”. Basically trying to play low down blues as dark and spooky as possible. Straight up blues scale playing with minimum exhaling notes.  Slightly played in spirit of the Big Joe/ Sonny Boy I song Peach Orchard M.  Check out our duo version of this song on the On The Move CD. Recorded on 7/29/14

LOST TURNPIKE – The second acoustic number on the record, also in the key of “D” and played on a “G”. More “train whistle sustaining” approach in my playing.  Recorded on 7/30/14

DEEP WELLS – In the key of “Em” and played on a “C”.  Also had to use a “B” harp in the bridge to get that B chord.  Lots of fills going on in between the “shakes”.  The solo was actually overdubbed. The live take just didn’t capture the magic we wanted to have.  Recorded on 7/30/14

SONIC BREAKDOWN – Yet another tune in “D” and played on a “G”. That’s why I have to keep repairing my “G” harp!  Straight ahead Chicago Blues approach with a straight ahead Cajun approach on the bridge.  Check out the difference version we recorded on the On The Move CD.  Recorded on 7/29/14

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