This Harmonica Album will Funk You Up
Although released in 2014, I just last year discovered Roly Platt’s debut album, Inside Out, and it’s now on my list of favorite harmonica albums.
Here’s a taste of what’s on the album with one of the standout tunes, his version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, which he plays in 2nd position on a country tuned harp (country tuning is identical to standard tuning except the -5 is tuned a half-step higher).
On both Over the Rainbow, and Georgia on my Mind, another beautiful ballad on the album utilizing a country-tuned harmonica, we get a chance to hear a master playing the ever-challenging -3” in tune and with good tone, vibrato, and emotion. (Although not the cut from the album, you can hear him do it in this rendition of Georgia on My Mind).
You can hear these cuts now, some of the good ole blues stuff from Inside Out:
the instrumental Mad River
a slow blues tune, Ocean of Tears
the blazing honky tonk tune Rippin’ It Up (on which he also sings)
Note: as you probably already know - here at harmonica.com we don’t do no paid promotions, yo! Just keeping you in the loop of what’s going on in the world of harmonica.
If you do check out Inside Out, or you’re wanting to know about the rest of the album before deciding if you should buy it, here are my notes for you:
Besides the 2 beautiful ballads, the main reason I DIG this album is the inclusion of the 4 instrumental funk tunes. I happen to LOVE funk music, and it’s a genre in which I think the harmonica is underutilized.
Over half the album is instrumentals (7 instrumentals & 4 w/vocals) which is great for us harmonica players cos we get to hear LOTS of harmonica!
The opening track Put It Where You Want It, 1 of the 4 instrumental funk songs on the album, has a breakdown section where he plays through a cool auto-wah effect.
Finally, when it comes time to play, close your eyes, have fun, and put all of your emotion into every note. There’s no substitute for authentic emotion. The listener will hear and feel the difference, I promise!
The auto-wah effect, also sometimes referred to as an envelope filter, is a commonly heard effect in the funk genre on bass, guitar, synths, and clavs, but it’s rarely used on harmonica, and I THINK IT’S SUCH A COOL SOUND! Hear it in action in this YouTube video.
I asked Roly what pedal he used on the album, and while it was a Boss multi-effects unit at that time, he now uses and loves the Q-Tron Nanofor that cool auto-wah style when he plays live.
And for all of you gear nerds, Roly was playing an SM58 (modified by Greg Heuman) through an amp on all of the songs on this record, except for his acoustic performance on Congo Strut (on which he plays a Parrott-tuned harmonica which means the -7 is tuned down a half-step) and on the final song Bartender’s Blues by James Taylor (the 3rd song in which he uses the country tuning besides Over the Rainbow and Georgia).
These days he plays a Greg Heuman Ultimate 57 or Custom Bullet, and his amplifiers of choice when playing live are a Fender Bassman amp on bigger gigs, or his ‘56 Maestro GA 45T or 50’s Supro for small shows. (BTW, in case you were wondering, if you’re still reading this, you’re officially a gear nerd )