MEET OUR INSTRUCTORS
Ronnie Shellist has been honing his harmonica skills for 25 years. His musical career began in 1997 working with singer/songwriter Hugh Fadal from Austin,TX. Blues great Gary Primich was a huge influence on his music as well as Guy Forsyth and Walter T. Higgs who lived and played in Austin in the mid 90’s. “If it weren’t for those guys, I never would have pushed as hard as I did to learn how to get that sound out of my harp.” Thanks to a great blues scene in Austin at the time, Ronnie had an up close and personal experiences in the scene that heavily influenced his ultimate musical direction. His style is a combination of mostly Chicago and West Coast blues influenced by funk and jazz greats such as Grant Green and Maceo Parker.
In 1998, Ronnie moved to Colorado where he teamed up with the band Available Jones, a high energy funk/rock band, and toured the US in 2000. He has worked with many greats in Colorado throughout the past 15 years including such locals as John Alex Mason, Lionel Young, Rich Reno, Bob Pellegrino, Rex Peoples and many others.
By 2006, Ronnie began posting performances on YouTube which currently have over 10 million views. Ronnie’s live performances include opening for such greats as BB King, Charlie Musselwhite, Robert Cray and the Neville Brothers. His first official CD was recorded in 2007, titled Chicago Sessions: Blues Revue said: “the show belongs to Shellist’s toneful harp...” -- Tom Hyslop, Blues Revue Magazine. His newest CD “Till Then” was released in March 2012, and features both original songs, and a few classics. It has rave reviews from harmonica greats Kim Wilson and Charlie Musselwhite.
Currently Ronnie performs in/around Denver, CO where he resides, but also travels extensively around the U.S. with his music and harmonica workshops. He works with Kilborn Alley, Corey Dennison, Gerry Hundt, Matt Hendricks, Eric Noden, and Ken Kinsey around the Chicago,IL area. Ronnie is a Hohner Music artist, endorser, and clinician. He has traveled the U.S. from coast to coast with the Hohner Roadshow. These shows are a mix of performance, teaching, and product demonstration.
Ronnie's seminar info will be added here soon.........
Will Wilde has taken the harmonica way beyond its blues roots since he first emerged on the music scene in 2010. Always pushing forward, evolving and redefining his sound, Wilde is now ready to take the rock world by storm.
On his latest album, Bring it on Home, Wilde’s hard-edged harmonica steals the spotlight from the traditional rock guitar, with a sound that owes as much to Jimmy Page or Ritchie Blackmore as it does to Sonny Boy Williamson or Little Walter.
Wilde says he's inspired by artists like Rage Against the Machine/Prophets of Rage guitarist Tom Morello. “I’m interested in the creative, unconventional way that Morello approaches his instrument. I’m always looking to make new interesting sounds with the harmonica too, pushing its boundaries, trying to change people’s perception of it.”
In fact, Wilde has gone one step further and has created his own signature harmonica tunings so he can hit notes that weren’t possible before.
“The Wilde tunings help me take things to the next level,” says Wilde. “I can hold my own with any rock guitarist.”
Wilde picked up his first harmonica at a house party when he was sixteen.
“I basically nicked it,” he says. “It was a cheap plastic thing, just lying about amongst the drink bottles and cigarette butts, and I was drawn to it.”
From then on playing became an obsession.
“I used to play along to old Muddy Waters records for hours at a time. Some days I played so much my lips bled,” says Wilde. “I couldn’t get enough of it. I wanted to know everything it could do, every sound it could make. After a while it became an extension of me.”
Wilde comes from a musical family. “Music was always around me,” he says, “British hard rock and blues was the soundtrack to my childhood.” His grandfather was a wartime jazz 'n' blues pianist and his sister, Dani Wilde, is an acclaimed blues and country singer in her own right.
Multi-instrumentalist Wilde studied drums at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music (BIMM), but found himself gravitating towards harmonica, guitar and vocals.
At first his music reflected traditional Chicago Blues and over time Wilde developed a more aggressive style that draws from the rock music he grew up on.
He has had a diverse career, sharing the stage with the likes of Taj Mahal on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise in Mexico to appearing at festivals, such as The Rambling Man Fair in Kent on the same bill as Black Stone Cherry and Thunder.
Will's seminar info will be added here soon.........
Todd Parrott has been called one of the freshest, most innovative and proficient harmonica players today. His soulful, bluesy-gospel style harmonica can be heard in churches and at harmonica events across the USA.
In the words of Buddy Greene, "Todd Parrott is one of the freshest, most innovative and proficient harp players I know. He's got it all: great chops, killer tone, speed, finesse, and impeccable taste. Todd plays with a sensibility and maturity that lets me know he is first and foremost a great musician who never sacrifices musicality for mere technique. And he genuinely loves sharing whatever knowledge he has with the rest of the harmonica community out there.”
Adam Gussow adds, "Todd Parrott works the upper octave blues scale in a straight-ahead blues/gospel vein better than anybody out there, IMO. He's very fast, gets all the notes (overblows and overdraws), and, most importantly, makes it all sound very soulful.... Todd's too modest to say this, but I think he's got the best chance of any harmonica player I've seen to cross over and become the public sound and image of what pure-D American blues harmonica is about: unamped, very little tongue-blocking, just straight-up, stand-at-the-mic-and-blow-hell-out-of-it stuff. Sweet, strong, soulful, and clear...
He's definitely modern, in technical terms--all those overdraws and overblows, some of them bent and/or held and vibratoed--but his tonality is straight down the middle of the blues/gospel/country road. Most listeners won't hear "modern." They'll just hear "great!" Todd should be center stage at the Grand Ol' Opry, he should be the first-call studio guy in Nashville and L.A., he should be all over movie and TV soundtracks. He's really got it. One reason among many that he's got it is that he makes huge use of the upper octave blues scale..."
Todd's seminars will focus on the following topics:
Understanding chord progressions and making the most of them
Country style harmonica playing and patterns, including adding embellishments to melodies
Understanding overbends and how and when to incorporate them into your playing
The untapped potential of 3rd position major
Adding fluidity to your playing by learning licks to play along with various rhythms
Jerry Fierro has enjoyed a rewarding musical career that began in Paterson, New Jersey at the age of sixteen. Before he reached the age of seventeen, Jerry was already playing professionally. Son Lewis recalls, "We had to sneak him in the back door because he was under age." Playing a wide range of styles over the years such as: Rock, Funk, Jazz, Country, Gospel and Reggee, Jerry has never strayed too far from his first love - the blues. At age eighteen, Jerry studied with legendary bluesman, Sonny Terry, and went on to perform live with such greats as, Junior Wells, Hubert Sumlin, Jonny "Clyde" Copeland, Jorma Kaukonen, Southside Johnny, Jimmy Vivino, Mark Penderand, and Felix Cavaliere. He also played on many studio recordings with Son Lewis, Impact, Robert Allen, Kim Page and Mudbone, to name a few.
Jerry currently resides in Fort Myers, FL, where he won the Florida Harmonica Championship for two consecutive years, in 2014 and 2015. He can be seen performing weekly in Naples, FL, co-hosting the "Mudbone Blues and Beyond Jam" (seven years and counting) among other area clubs and festivals, with some of the best musicians in southwest Florida. For the past few years, Jerry has been furthering his studies with, Todd Parrott, Howard Levy and David Barrett, and regularly attends the annual SPAH convention, where he performed in 2019. Jerry is also the founder of the annual Paradise Coast Harmonica Workshop in Naples, FL.
Jerry's seminar will focus on the techniques he learned during his private lessons with Sonny Terry in the late 70's, many of which he recorded on tape. He'll be sharing excerpts from these recorded lessons with us and explaining how he developed his own Sonny Terry style of harmonica playing.
Joe Spiers is arguably the world's best harmonica customizer, and builds high performance custom harps for many of today's top professional players.
A traditional player himself, Joe Spiers enjoys the heritage of the Marine Band and the music that's been made with it over time. Coming from the automotive field, he has the technical background to understand efficiency and dynamics within the harmonica, making him the go-to-customizer for players employing the overblow style to achieve chromaticity on the diatonic harp.
Joe's seminar will focus on the different aspects of harmonica maintenance and customization. If you're wondering what makes a custom harp a true custom harp, you won't want to miss Joe's presentation. He'll show us what to look for and what to expect when considering a custom harmonica purchase. He'll be with us for the duration of the event to answer your harp related questions and to jam with us. You'll also have an opportunity to sit with him during our Harmonica Hangout sessions each day. We're honored to have him joining us at the 2020 Harp Fest!
Growing up in New Hampshire, Gary Green took up the harmonica in high school and was soon playing 20 nights a month around New England. “You learn your instrument quickly when you have to be so focused,” he says. He moved to Virginia in the early 1980s and has since made it home.
Gary was a winner at the 1987 Hohner National Harmonica Championships and The 1987 World Harmonica Championships Isle of Jersey (GB).
Gary has performed on major stages around the country including Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, Grand Ole Opry, Washington DC’s Birchmere, Passims in Boston, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, NY’s Falcon Ridge Festival, Folks Fest in Lyons Co., Norfolk Scope, Paramount Theater, Charlottesville, VA as well as venues from NYC to Austin to Key West Florida.
While currently dedicating most of his time to his other passion, live event audio, Gary just finished adding harmonica tracks to the upcoming release by Peyton Tochterman. It's been over 10 years since Gary released his own CD project, Surrounded. Keep a look out for the next one due to be released at the end of this year.
Gary will be performing an evening set at the Harp Fest, and will be available each day to answer your harmonica questions. We're very happy to have him on-board for the 2020 Harp Fest!
Emile D'Amico is one of the greatest chromatic players of our day. Emile began playing harmonica over 50 years ago, and has been performing for over 35 years in the Philadelphia Tri-State area. He's played in four productions of the Musical "Big River" totaling at least 135 performances..
After graduating Magna Cum Laude with a BM in Music from the Esther Boyer College of Music of Temple University., Emile furthered his studies on chromatic harmonica with the great Cham-Ber Huang at the Turtle Bay Music School, and in private lessons with Robert Bonfiglio. In addition to chromatic, he also plays diatonic harmonica and has studied improvisation and overblow techniques with Howard Levy. Emile has become a fixture at the annual SPAH conventions - whether you find him teaching seminars or playing some pretty mean chromatic solos in the evening jams, you're sure to be impressed with his skill.
Emile's seminar will focus on an introduction to the chromatic harmonica, which chromatic harmonicas to choose, playing in different keys, and how to get started with playing the blues on the chromatic. He'll also be sharing some exclusive study material from the late Cham-Ber Huang. We're super excited to have Emile with us at the Harp Fest. Besides wearing some cool-looking hats, he's a very kind, approachable instructor, and a friend to all harp players.
"BIG DADDY" AL LAMBERSON
Pennsylvania-born harmonica player and vocalist, "Big Daddy" Al Lamberson has been an important member of the local blues scene in Bucks County since the early 1980s. Known for his versatility to play harmonica with many different styles of music, Big Daddy has a passion for performing that comes through to his audience and leaves them wanting more. He loves to share his insights on playing the harmonica to help others in their quest to commandeer the instrument. Rockabilly, western swing and electric blues are some of Big Daddy's favorites and he attributes his influences to musical greats such as, Jimi Hendrix, James Cotton, James Brown and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Big Daddy’s mastery of the harmonica is heralded amongst performers and he is often invited to share the stage with talented musicians from across the country.
Big Daddy will be performing an evening set at the Harp Fest, and will be with us throughout the entire event, jamming and answering your harmonica questions. When he takes the stage, look out! It's gonna be a lot of fun! We're happy to have him in the line-up for 2020!
Steve August is a jazz pianist, composer, arranger and author, currently residing in beautiful northern Michigan. Steve has performed in the area for over 20 years in clubs, resorts and in concerts with many of his own jazz trios and quartets, and as a sideman in various settings. He holds a Master of Music degree in Jazz studies from Western Michigan University on piano. He performs regularly on Mackinac Island, Michigan in the summer months for Jazz gigs, casuals and performance venues in this highly romantic setting depicted in the movie, "Somewhere in Time." Prior to his return to Michigan, Steve performed in Las Vegas, Nevada in various venues and casinos, such as, the Wynn, The Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, The Flamingo Resort, and Caesar's Palace. In December of 2018, he traveled to Guangzhou, China, where he accompanied Todd Parrott, Steve Baker, Ian Lofamia, and several other harmonica players on piano at the GuangDong International Harmonica Festival.
Steve started playing harmonica in his teens listening to both of the Sonny Boy Williamsons, James Cotton, Charlie Musselwhite, Charlie McCoy, John Mayall, Paul Butterfield, Sonny Terry and the J. Giels Band. He taught blues harmonica in Las Vegas, Nevada for several years at the University of Las Vegas and at the College of Southern Nevada. Upon returning to Petoskey, Michigan, a few years ago, Steve began teaching blues harmonica to Northern Michigan harmonica players and playing both harmonica and piano professionally.
Steve has become a fixture at the SPAH conventions in recent years where he can be found leading jams in the hallways on piano. He recently organized his own harmonica workshop, the Great Lakes Harmonica Retreat, in Petoskey, Michigan, which is a sister event to the Carolina Harp Fest.
Steve will be with us for the entire event, playing keyboard and assisting with beginning harmonica. As a professional musician and music teacher, he offers a unique approach and a ton of musical knowledge. He'll also be siting in on piano with the bands for the evening jams. Steve does an amazing job with his harmonica students back home in Michigan, and we're happy to have him assisting and sharing his knowledge with us at the Harp Fest.
Growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Boaz Kim began his musical studies at a young age, beginning with piano. Inspired by a Mr. Rogers episode featuring the Boston Brass, Boaz excitedly joined the band program in 5th grade and chose the trumpet. He credits his 7th grade band director as the driving force behind his musical direction and his decision to major in Music Education. In his senior high school year, Boaz began giving music lessons during his lunch periods. This experience reassured him that this, in fact, was the field he would pursue. Upon graduating high school, Boaz received the Michael Brecker Jazz scholarship, which only strengthened his drive to succeed in music.
Boaz went on to attend and graduate from West Chester University of PA with a B. M. in Music Education, with a focus on voice. During his time at WCU, he participated in several of the ensembles including the Concert Choir, Mastersingers, Statesmen Jazz Ensemble, and the marching band. He participated in master classes and vocal honors recitals. Boaz is very grateful to have studied voice under Dr. Inyoung Lee and vocal pedagogy under Dr. Emily Bullock.
As a harmonica player, Boaz is quite versatile, playing all kinds of harmonicas, which can be seen on his YouTube channel and on Facebook. He studied harmonica with Howard Levy, and performed an amazing and entertaining set at the 2019 SPAH convention in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
When Boaz is not teaching, performing, or in the recording studio, he is currently the “go-to-guy” for harmonica repairs for many of Philadelphia’s blues harmonica players. Two of the more exciting restorations for his clients were of a 1930’s Hohner harmonica, and two very rare 1990’s Joe Filisko customized Marine Band.
Boaz will be performing an evening set at the Harp Fest and dazzling us with his amazing skills. If his performance is even half as good as his set at this yer's SPAH, then you're in for a treat! He's an extremely kind, humble young man and we consider it an honor to have him with us at the Harp Fest. He'll be around for the entire event to help you with any harmonica questions you may have.