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THURSDAY, April 5th


2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.


St. Paul UMC’s Sacred Grounds Coffeehouse, Durham, NC


Overbending Techniques, with Todd Parrott

This free seminar will explore the history of overbends, how to achieve and incorporate overbends into your playing, and harp setup.  Class includes free printed presentation and audio files.  Bring a C harmonica.

Address for St. Paul UMC’s Sacred Grounds Coffeehouse is:

2700 N. Roxboro Street, Durham, NC 27704

(For additional parking, use the entrance on Hugo Street)


7:00 p.m.

Event kickoff and open mic blues jam at The Blue Note Grill


FRIDAY, April 6th


10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.



Filisko's 18 Harmonica Insights - What I wish I would have known when I was starting out playing.


Blues Guitar Basics For Harmonica Players - Acoustic blues guitar expert Eric Noden (one half of the blues duo Joe Filisko & Eric Noden) has custom designed this seminar for harmonica players who are interested in  learning some basic blue guitar skills. Playing some guitar is very beneficial to harp players for understanding keys, chords, forms and grooves. Eric will break down a 12 blues an 8 bar blues and. He'll also explain how these forms and grooves work with the harp. Don't miss this chance to enhance your understanding of blues music.


Levels--All Levels (knowledge of basic chords helpful)

Please bring--Acoustic 6 String Guitar, capo




Country Harmonica and Beyond - This class will explore Nashville harmonica styles and techniques.  Bring a C harmonica and learn to play patterns made popular by players like Charlie McCoy, Buddy Greene, and others, as well as how to add country licks and embellishments into your favorite melodies.  We will also discuss 5th position playing, and how/when to use 5th for minor country tunes vs 3rd position, as well as “country” tuned harmonicas.  Free tablature of patterns and complete songs will be included.


11:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Harmonica Hangout And Break Time


11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.



Sustaining - An underused approach to playing all the time over various forms that has some surprising breathing challenges hidden within it.  Also included are ways to flavor that chord that you didn't likely know about.


Exploring 3rd Position MAJOR - In this session, we’ll dive deep into 3rd position (commonly used as a “go to” for minor playing) and explore the untapped potential of playing in 3rd position major.  You may be surprised at just how rich and soulful the harmonica can be in this position and how this knowledge can even help you improve your 2nd position playing.  Printed tablature of 3rd position major licks and songs will be included.


Incorporating Tongue-Blocking Into Your Playing - Tongue-blocking is a critical element in the sound of many of the great players in blues (Little Walter, Sonny Terry) and other genres.  Chris Turner will teach you how to tongue-block to isolate notes, play split intervals (octave, seventh), create dynamic rhythmic patterns, and add tongue slaps, warbles, and corner-switching to your playing.  Bring a 10-hole harp in the key of C.


1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

LUNCH and Harmonica Hangout



2:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.



Shuffle Groove - Learn essential foundation stuff that is underused allowing you to play all the time in possibly the most common groove heard in blues.


Choosing The Best Notes For The Chord Changes (part 1) - Having an understanding of how notes interact with the chord progression/changes of a song is an important key to becoming a better harmonica player, and an overall better musician.  Part 1 of this seminar will focus on the I, IV & V chords, which notes work well over these chords, and which notes don’t work as well.  Are there notes that should be avoided?  Where are the “juicy” notes?  Come, bring a C harmonica and find out!


Songwriting, Performance, and Recording - Paul will discuss how he uses the diatonic harmonica as an instrument to be played within contemporary popular music styles of music, besides the common blues, folk, and country styles.  This class will also explore song-writing in those styles using the harmonica, as well as how to use the harmonica in recording those styles.

Friday Evening Performances

April 6th



6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.





Referred to as a “populist” band, they play a mix of old and new, original material, country and jazz, rock, Tin Pan Alley, bluegrass, and old-time. With a love of melody, an appreciation of all that’s come before, and an ability stretch their musical chops, the Duke Street Dogs mix all these elements into their live shows. The intent of this band is to play what each loves, with attention to the details that define the diverse material. With a playlist numbering over a thousand, the Dogs always surprise and delight with a new take on Americana.




9:00 p.m. - MIDNIGHT





Playing a mix of danceable blues with a nod towards swinging jazz and an eclectic selection of rock and pop tunes, the Willie Painter Band consists of four veterans of the North Carolina music scene.​


SATURDAY, April 7th


10:00 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.



MegaTone Amps - A presentation about amplified harmonica, featuring MegaTone amps.



11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.



Old Time Groove - Learn the magical droning Fox Chase and Lost John and how it fits into a song.




Playing In Minor Keys - This study picks up where the country harmonica seminar ended, further exploring minor tunes, and which harp or position works best.  We’ll look at playing minor in 3rd, 4th, 5th and even 2nd positions, where the available notes are, which notes are missing, minor scales, and more.  The goal is to help you understand how to choose the best harp or position for a given song.  We’ll take a look at a few common minor tunes and printed tablature will be provided.




Building A Harmonica Solo - Bill will focus on how he improvises and builds a solo over the classic 12-bar blues format of the I-IV-V chords, as well as other chord progressions and songs that have arisen over his decades of experience playing harmonica and saxophone in live bands.  Learn reliable licks and riffs which can be transposed into different contexts or over multiple chords, and when another position, harp, two harps, or even a chromatic, may be the best tool for the job.




12:15 a.m. - 1:15 p.m.



Mississippi Groove - Learn the explosive chording of Mississippi players and how it works in a song.




Fluid Licks For Rhythms - A study in adding fluidity into your playing, and how to adapt your harp licks to fit within various rhythms and grooves.  Certain vowel sounds, syllables, triplets and “connector licks” will be demonstrated to help you move up and down your harmonica with greater ease.  This class takes the country patterns, “bluesifies” them, and adds a half-time funky rhythm into the mix.  Learn how to take these same licks and alter them to fit other rhythms as well, such as the classic shuffle, or even slow blues.




Alternate Tunings - Bill will discuss various alternate tuned harps and demonstrate how he uses them to adapt to musical contexts that arise when playing in studio sessions and with live bands.  Learn how country tuned harps can prove to be very effective for 2nd position blues or rocking tunes in certain instances, as well as their use for playing in 3rd position major!  Other alternate tunings discussed include, melody maker, natural minor, harmonic minor and Powerbender, as well as Chromatic and Tremolo harps.




1:15 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

LUNCH and Harmonica Hangout


2:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.



Train Groove - Learn the harmonica train and how to make it fit into the rhythm section of a song.




Choosing The Best Notes For The Chord Changes (part 2) - In the second part of this study, we will explore other chords and chord progressions that occur beyond the I, IV & V chords.  Common chord progressions used in classic rock and 60’s Motown songs will be used to demonstrate how something as simple as the blues scale may work well over the changes.  We’ll also take a look at the chords that occur less often, and how to deal with these “curve ball” situations.  Which notes work well?  Which notes should be avoided, if any?  Where do these chords reside on the harmonica, and can we arpeggiate them - or do we even need to?  Harp solos on songs such as “Georgia On My Mind” and “Stormy Monday” can sound terrific if you know how to roll with the changes.

Saturday Evening Performances April 7th


7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.



Gospel harmonica and more at its best, plus guest appearances




8:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.



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.”



9:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.



The blues and roots music duo, Joe Filisko and Eric Noden, make an unforgettable impression. Their jaw-dropping virtuosity enables them to create more layers of sound and feeling than most full bands can summon, and both are high-energy, ultra-rhythmic performers. The collective result — in both their live shows and their recordings — are charged, dramatic performances that are simultaneously powerful and sophisticatedly subtle.

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