Bruce J Maier
When I first heard about Jon Gindick last Winter, I really thought I had found the prize – that I now had learned something very few others knew. How I couldn’t wait to tell people about my discovery. Then, when I started getting the raised eyebrows and the ” where have you been ” stare, I realized I must have been living in a dark closet for Jon Gindick is the author of over a dozen instructional books about the Harmonica. Man was that humbling!
Back in the day when I was playing a lot of one man shows, especially solo-acoustic, I wore a harmonica holder and probably owned a total of three harps which were just there to provide some kind of extra interlude and passages in the folk tunes I was performing. But I never really ” got ” it, meaning that I didn’t fully appreciate the depth of character the instrument was capable of. Sure, I’d heard a few good Blues players along the way banging out a handful of riffs with their favorite local rock band in a tavern and I’d also heard a lot of Dylan, Neil Young and Country music’s Charlie McCoy. One of my favorite Harmonica players was actually John Lennon but now I am pretty sure that Mr. Lennon never came close to having mastered the Harmonica although it really added something to some of those early Beatles numbers! So for myself, the Harmonica was a step above an ornament unfortunately and that’s probably what the audience thought as I stumbled around aimlessly trying to accompany myself. I thought it was cool and everyone seemed to agree but in time I just took it out of the act and my poor little harps probably rotted into the ground somewhere near Seattle, abandoned by their clueless owner.
Jon Gindick discovered the harmonica back in the nineteen-sixties and although it was a popular, affordable and highly portable device that nearly anyone could learn to play a basic song with, few would realize the potential that the great men of Blues like Sonny Terry, Little Walter, Paul Butterfield and an elite few others had done. Gindick said that he played the Harmonica for a couple of years and it was cool and everything but then he had an epihamy which would change his life forever; cross-harp technique!
Music and that of the Harmonica or as it was known – the French Harp, has changed a great deal since the invention was patented by a sixteen year old boy named Christian Friedrich Buschman, decades before the commercialization by the Hohner company. By 1887 over one million Harmonicas were being manufactured and sold each year! (And it was easier than packing around a Piano on your way out to the West!) The Harmonica would become the sound and the symbol of campfire and folk music the world over as the little gems multiplied and found their way into hands of people from all walks of life eager to make music anywhere, anytime.
Jon Gindick, being one of the new pioneers of Harmonica music, grew to become a large fish in a rather small pond. There weren’t many Caucasian men around who could play a Harmonica “Blues-style” with soul and conviction, stacking up amongst the greatest Blues players such as those previously mentioned but Jon learned to wield his powerful little axe, jam with Rock, Blues, Country and Jazz. It didn’t matter what the style of the music was – Jon could make it fit. And fit it did! Jon Gindick went on to become one of the most important and highly sought after soloists in the country and he has played with everybody who is anybody, including the King of the Blues, BB King! Mr. King has referred to Jon Gindick as the “foremost instructor on the Blues Harmonica”, a title that is rightfully Gindick’s by any sense of measure. Jon’s instructional books have sold over two million copies to date!
Years ago Jon began teaching Harmonica and has helped thousands of aspiring beginners and pros alike to get on the right road to Harmonica Mastery. Jon’s master class is held near Clarksdale Mississippi for several days each session and limited to about thirty students. Demand is high and space limited but if you are serious about the Harmonica, this is the next big step.
So this would have been a story good enough for Rolling Stone or any of our competitors in music journalism on the web and I would have been more than happy with the conversations I have enjoyed on the phone with Mr. Gindick…. That is, until he asked if I would listen to his CD of original music. First, I thought well it’s going to be like a bunch of Muddy Waters covers you know, like everyone in the West Coast scene seem to gravitate to, so I said ” sure Jon, send it. I’ll give it a listen “. Well Jon sends me two deluxe instructional books to go over, and a couple days later arrives this CD with the title; WHEN WE DIE WE ALL COME BACK AS MUSIC. I was drawn to it like the proverbial moth to a flame. I went for a drive and put the CD on in my car and I started shouting out some expletives unfit for even this publication! Song after song Jon Gindick laid one surprise after another on me. I have never heard anything like this music. It is so outright original and entertaining it’s hard to imagine why music like this hasn’t spread like wildfire across the planet! All the elements are there; great words, instrumentation and production – top notch. But that’s not even the kicker…it’s Jon Gindick’s soulful beautifully melodic choice of song structure – how the vocals dance through your head as a journey through an enchanted dreamscape of love, loss, pain, anger and joy like only a true legend would know how to deliver. Sometimes a crooner in the classic style, at times rough and raspy and others so subtle you can almost hear a secret you’re not supposed to know! I have not been this surprised by a record or an artist since we started this web magazine over five years ago. And this CD will become one of my most cherished – right up there with Layla and Let It Be. It’s that good!
In conclusion, it is my intention to actually study the instructional books written by Jon. Perhaps with some hard work and my ” readers ” perched upon the end of my nose for a couple of years I just might bring the Harmonica back into my own personal act and it won’t serve as a mere ornament. Who knows? I might just one day make a trip out to Mississippi to Jon Gindick’s Jam Camp!
For the rest of you, I strongly urge you to check out Jon’s websites, listen to his music and buy his album. If you are thinking about learning the Harmonica or already play well and are ready for the next level, then consider studying with the very best. Call or write to Jon Gindick today!