MEET OUR INSTRUCTORS
While at home in the jazz realm, Sandy Weltman is equally skilled in blues, Celtic, Klezmer, Latin and much more. He learned much of his harmonica styling while under the tutelage of harmonica wizard Howard "Flecktone" Levy. He has since gained international recognition in the World Harmonica Competitions. Sandy has won numerous awards and is equally skilled on the banjo and ukulele. Sandy currently performs his unique style of harmonica jazz in a duo, trio, & quartet setting.
Sandy has performed on dozens of albums nationally and has released four albums of his own: “Banjo Magic” (1987) -currently out of print,
Escape Velocity with his band the SanDROIDS (1996),
“New World Harmonica Jazz” with the Carolbeth Trio (1998),
“The Klezmer Nuthouse” (2002) and
“Cigar Box Hymns" (2016).
Sandy has opened for: Norman & Nancy Blake, BeauSoleil, Peter Ostrushko, Cassandra Wilson, Trio Globo, Hot Rize, Leon Redbone, Victor Wooten, and John Hartford. Sandy has performed with: Howard Levy, Brewer & Shipley, Bela Fleck, Bluegrass Alliance and many others.
On a more personal note...
Sandy & his wife and daughter center their lives around their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Being Jewish as well as a strong Christian, I like to tell people that "Jesus made me kosher". To read more about my faith, check out the liner notes from my CD entitled "The Klezmer Nuthouse".
“He is a true musician. And to also think of the ideas that he hears in his mind and then to execute them with flawless ease is truly astounding. My hat’s off to him.,
Principal Pops Conductor, St. Louis Symphony Pops Concerts-Classical Conductor
Sandy's seminar info will be added here soon.........
DAVID "WILD CHILD" BURGIN
It’s 1969 and San Francisco is teeming with musicians good enough to help define the future of popular music in all genres including the blues. In a VW bus parked in front of his house, David Burgin listened as then rookie KSAN DJ Dusty Street dropped the needle on a Little Walter record. What he heard changed his life forever and playing the harp became his passion.
By 1972 David hooked up with budding slide guitar player Roy Rogers. Roy turned him on to Robert Jonson, Muddy Waters and many other legendary blues players all the while getting together, jamming and honing their skills.
David eventually joined a local Bay area band Lucky Strike. They played all the hot clubs and shared the stage with Elvin Bishop, John Lee Hooker, Huey Lewis and many others. Great blues music was always on tap somewhere and David was never far from it.
After a couple of years with Lucky Strike, David got back together with Roy and formed the duet Rogers & Burgin. They opened up for Maria Muldaur, Jerry Garcia Band, Dickey Betts and others before signing a record deal with a Minneapolis label. During this time David worked his way to a first call session player, recording on “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”, Charlie Brown cartoons as well as recording credits with Harry Chapin, Jerry Garcia, Maria Muldaur, Geoff Muldaur & Amos Garrett, Howard Wales and many others. Hundreds of radio and TV commercials are recipients of his signature sound. (Discography)
Rogers & Burgin recorded the 1978 “A Foot In The Door” with a cast of players including Phil Aaberg, keyboardist for Elvin Bishop; Scott Mathews, Beach Boys drummer; Maria Muldaur, Amos Garrett and Mac Criddlin. The duo continued playing shows until they decided to go their separate ways.
A number of year later David joined his friend Amos Garrett completing several North American tours and two albums.
David'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.
Richard Sleigh was born in Philipsburg, a coal mining town in Central Pennsylvania. He first heard the sounds of the Marine Band harmonica as a kid through the music of his great-uncle Bill, who played steam train imitations and songs like “The Irish Washerwoman” to crowds on street corners in his home town.
Richard started playing guitar at age 8 and added rack harmonica later on as he chased the sounds of Bob Dylan and the Beatles. At age 17, he heard Sonny Terry and Woody Guthrie’s recording of “Lost John” which blew his mind with the sonic possibilities of the harmonica.
Richard studied printmaking and drawing at Pennsylvania State University in the early seventies. A study abroad semester in London turned into a year of traveling on bicycle through Greece, Europe, Wales and Ireland with a full set of Marine Bands, a 270 Chromatic and a pennywhistle as constant companions. Music was a great way to meet people and also make some extra cash busking on street corners.
The mystery of bending notes on the blues harp challenged Richard for years until he ended up at a banquet table at the 1984 SPAH convention where Cham-ber Huang explained the mechanics of note bending on chromatic and diatonic harmonicas.
Armed with this insight, Richard went home and started sketching ways to make a harmonica with “primary and secondary reeds”. He hit on a way to do it, and then spent the next ten years making prototypes and learning how to write a patent. In the process he started meeting all sorts of characters in the harmonica world like Pierre Beauregard, Magic Dick, Richard Farrell, Dick Gardner, and others who helped him learn ways to tune and adjust harmonica reeds. In 1993 Richard started hearing about a guy in Joliet Illinois named Joe Filisko. Convincing Joe to take a look at his invention, Richard took a train from Philadelphia to Joliet with a cigar box full of harmonica prototypes.
It turned out that others, including Will Scarlett, Brendan Power, and Rick Epping all had been pursuing the same basic idea that flashed into Richards head after his first SPAH convention. Rick Epping successfully filed for a patent on a harmonica that used “enabler reeds” that eventually came out as the XB-40.
One of the side effects of chasing the dream of ultimate bending diatonic harmonica was a deeper appreciation for the simplicity and power of the Marine Band harmonica. Another was a working relationship with Joe Filisko. When Joe burst onto the harmonica scene with his radical all brass custom harmonicas, he quickly became swamped with demand for customized harmonicas.
Joe offered to teach Richard his process of repairing and improving harmonicas and Richard jumped in with both feet. Over the next few years, Joe and Richard stayed in constant contact and conducted hundreds of experiments on how to extract the best response and tone out of a set of reed plates, a process that came to be known as the “Filisko Method”. James Gordon joined forces with Joe and Richard later on and also contributed to the development of the Filisko Method. Richard has continued to make incremental improvements in his process of upgrading harmonicas, including designing and developing a line of specialized tools for harmonica technicians.
As a musician, Richard has played on stage with Bo Diddley, Taj Mahal, the Bridgeton Symphony Orchestra, The Wooster Symphony Orchestra and many others. He has also created music for theatre productions, movie soundtracks, and numerous recording sessions. He performs on vocals, guitar and harmonica as a solo act with an eclectic variety of material he calls American Roots Music. On any given night it could include Chicago and Delta Blues, Celtic Music, songs by Hank Williams, Jimmy Reed, Little Walter, Rice Miller, Van Morrison, and Tom Waits.
Building custom harmonicas, teaching and playing harmonica has been Richard’s primary occupation since 1994. Before this time, he had a wide variety of jobs to supplement his music income including sign painter, graphic designer, towboat deckhand on the Monongahela River, and job coach in a social service agency.
Richard lives now in Boalsburg Pennsylvania with his wife Jane. They have two daughters making their way out into the world. They also have one apparently indestructible orange cat named Ginger.
Richard’s mission in life is to be the best musician he can be and to inspire and help others to do the same. His customized Hohner harmonicas have been inspiring people to higher levels of expression for over two decades, according to countless letters of thanks from his loyal customers.
Richard's seminars will focus on the different aspects of harmonica maintenance and customization. He'll discuss what to look for and what to expect when considering a custom harmonica purchase. Richard is also an incredible singer, harp player, as well as an accomplished rack harmonica player. His classes will also include in instruction on playing harmonica in a rack with guitar. 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 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.
Paul Messinger is a poet, songwriter, vocalist, and instrumentalist, originally from New York, now based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He is known as one of the early proponents of the Howard Levy (The Flecktones) approach to playing diatonic harmonica, and writes nuanced, character-driven songs in varied styles, explaining, “Different stories require different musical styles to tell them.”
His abiding passions are history and people, and his artistic lens is focused on telling the stories of the people(s) in the world around us.
Paul Messinger plays harmonicas customized by JOE FILISKO and Richard Sleigh ...