Happy Hour Harmonica Podcast

Richard Hunter interview

November 26, 2022 Neil Warren Season 1 Episode 74
Happy Hour Harmonica Podcast
Richard Hunter interview
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Show Notes Chapter Markers

Richard Hunter joins me on episode 74.

Richard has immersed himself in harmonica ever since he first picked it up at age 15 and has been pushing the boundaries of the instrument ever since. His first release was a solo acoustic harmonica album, composing most of the songs himself and making extensive use of alternate tunings and counterpoint, followed up by a second album along the same lines.

Richard is a true innovator of using effects with harmonica and has created some great sounds using them on his later two albums, including the use of Digitech multi-effect pedals, for which he has created patch sets that are available to download from his website.

Richard is also the author of one of the first harmonica transcription books: Jazz Harp, that was released in the 1990s, becoming a staple publication on many a harmonica players’ shelves.


Richard’s website:

Chris Turner:

The Lucky One posts:

Solo acoustic harmonica tracks to buy:

Tunings used on solo recordings:

The Lucky One breakdown of each song:

DaBell harmonicas:

Richard’s YouTube channel:

Put The Lever Down, from 1982:

Recent Electric work:

Podcast website:

If you want to make a voluntary donation to help support the running costs of the podcast then please use this link (or visit the podcast website link above):

Spotify Playlist:
Also check out the Spotify Playlist, which contains most of the songs discussed in the podcast:

Podcast sponsors:
This podcast is sponsored by SEYDEL harmonicas - visit the oldest harmonica factory in the world at www.seydel1847.com  or on Facebook or Instagram at SEYDEL HARMONICAS
and Blows Me Away Productions: http://www.blowsmeaway.com/

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Richard was born in New York and has been based around the North East US all his life
Piano was first instrument before deciding on the harmonica (age 15) to get out front and impress the girls
Saxophone was an option but the less costly harmonicas was the choice after having heard Paul Butterfield
Met his wife while playing the harmonica
Had formal piano lessons when young and has taken piano up again recently
How piano playing has influenced harmonica playing
There are many more great harmonica players now than when Richard was young, helped a lot by online resources
Now is a great time to learn to play harmonica
Found a community of harmonica players in Boston
Charlie Musselwhite was a big influence on the young Richard
Had been a devoted harmonica disciple from the age of 15
Met Chris Turner, an English harmonica player, during his time in Boston and started writing solo harmonica pieces during this time
Winter Sun In Nobska was Richard’s first solo composition
Golden Mel song
The Act of Being Free in One Act was Richard’s first solo acoustic harmonica album
This album was one of the first, if not the first, solo harmonica album of this type
Keith Dunn released a solo harmonica album, but that was more blues based
Richard composed most of the songs on The Act of Being Free in One Act
Hymn For Crow song came to Richard in just 20 minutes
Richard uses a lot of different tunings on this album, using Lee Oskar’s at that time
Information on the tunings used are available on Richard’s website
Need to use the correct tunings to be able to play those songs
Chords available on alternate tunings are a big part of the tonality of those songs
The Act of Being Free in One Act album is entirely acoustic, no effects added
Lots of killer ‘licks’ on the album
The Second Act of Free Being album, with almost all tunings used available out of the box
Billy The Kid, Bela’s World and How Long Have I Loved You songs
Recordings available on Richard’s website of him playing several of these solo pieces at SPAH in 1997
The solo pieces are mainly set pieces played from memory (not improvised)
Next album (The Lucky One) was released in 2016, almost twenty years since the previous album
Performs tracks from The Lucky One using backing tracks from the actual musicians recorded for the album
Makes extensive use of effects on The Lucky One
First Digitech multi-effects unit bought in 1997 or 1998, which is when Richard really started getting into effects for the harmonica
Saw that effects pedals could replace an amplifier
Current kit Richard uses
Richard provides ‘patch sets’ for the Digitechs where he has selected effects that work well with harmonica
Bought a Fender Mustang amp later, and has patch sets for that and the Line 6 multi-effects unit
Role of effects in the modern harmonica players arsenal
Some of songs on recent two albums and how they use effects
Put The Lever Down from The Lucky One album was used as the music for a harmonica radio show
Blue Future album from 2019, using harmonica in a different role than the traditional blues band
Uses the Fender Mustang amp on most of the songs on the album, a computerised amp
Some of the lyrics written by Richard on Blue Future
Has spent a lot of time developing singing
Website contains a blog with lots of information on how songs on last two albums were put together
Since releasing the last two albums has released some videos and now is working on music for licensing purposes
Likes to push the role of the harmonica beyond just being a soloist, something that Magic Dick did with The J Geils Band
How approaches layering harmonica so doesn’t play over singer
Jazz Harp book, released in 1980, which was originally written as a book called ‘Harmonica For Musicians’
Was one of first transcription books for harmonica, although Richard still thinks harmonica players should learn to red music
Sold quite a few of Jazz Harp and made a little money from it
Chromatic harmonica, and recorded some classical pieces and studied some jazz on chromatic
Two chromatic songs on The Lucky One album
10 minute question
Harmonicas of choice (everyone going!)
Buys most of the tunings he uses, doing a little tuning himself
How does Richard find switching between different tunings
Embouchre: mostly pucker
Amps and pedals and mics
Uses wireless mic a lot
Lightweight rig uses at jam sessions
Has travelled internationally to perform and future plans