Happy Hour Harmonica Podcast

Steve Guyger interview

March 24, 2023 Neil Warren Season 1 Episode 82
Happy Hour Harmonica Podcast
Steve Guyger interview
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Show Notes Chapter Markers

Steve Guyger joins me on episode 82.

Steve is from the Philadelphia area of the US and he absorbed the blues harmonica players when he first got into playing, with John Lee Williamson a big early inspiration. Steve was also great friends with the late Paul Oscher, making  three albums with him. Steve also teamed up with the legendary Jimmy Rogers, over the course of fourteen years. 
Steve has released five albums under his own name, with a great mix of diatonic and chromatic blues.
Steve’s long-standing band is the Excellos, who   are still performing more than forty years after their formation, and Steve is due to play in a Jimmy Rogers tribute in Switzerland with Dennis Gruenling and Nick Moss sometime soon.


Blues Harmonica DVD on Hal Leonard:

Dennis Gruenling website:


Steve's YouTube Music channel:

Paul Oscher playing bass harmonica on The Things I Used To Do:

Live concert with Excellos:

I Can See By Your Eyes song:

Rock This House (live at Austrian Blues festival):

Sammy Lewis playing in 5th position:

Snake Oil live performance (outro song):

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

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Steve lives near Philadelphia, in the US, in the same house he grew up in
Radio Blues album is testament to his love of listening to music on the radio when he was young, and still to do this day
First interest in music was Doo-wop singing, which got Steve into singing
Guitar was first instrument before moving on to the harmonica
Got first harmonica from sister-in-law when Steve was 17 or 18
Friend at college introduced Steve to all the great blues harmonica recordings
Before he heard Chicago blues Steve was playing mostly country style blues
Blue Midnight by Little Walter was a big favourite of Steves, and other greats he listened to
Billy Boy Arnold said:”Steve Guyger is one of the few guys who can really sing and play like Sonny Boy Williamson I”
It was a book in which Muddy Waters said you had to learn to play with John Lee Williamson that turned Steve onto SBW I
Recommended songs of John Lee
Why John Lee was so influential on the generation of harmonica players that followed him
Jazz Gillum was a contemporary of John Lee, but more a jazzy and first position player
Can hear John Lee started using amplification towards the end of his career
John Lee was murdered in 1948 at the age of 34
Knew Paul Oscher very well, releasing three albums with Paul
Paul Oscher, as well as being a great harmonica player, was also a great instrumentalist
Learned some harmonica from Paul Oscher’s guitarist
Steve worked hard at learning (Big) Walter’s Boogie
Released three albums with Paul Oscher
Paul Oscher played some bass harmonica and was a multi-instrumentalist
Paul Oscher was the first harmonica player with Muddy Waters
Steve is also friends with Jerry Portnoy
Steve’s first band was called Rock Bottom
Second band was The Blues Rockers
Steve has played with the his band The Excellos since 1980, a name taken from the blues record label
Played with Jimmy Rogers on and off for fourteen years. Jimmy Rogers played in the Muddy Waters and Little Walter Headhunters band in the late 1940s / early 1950s
Jimmy Rogers was also an excellent harmonica player (he is know as a guitarist and singer)
Jimmy Rogers played harmonica with Muddy Waters before Little Walter joined
Steve got to play with Jimmy Rogers by originally writing him a letter
Got together with Jimmy Rogers in 1980
Went touring with Jimmy Rogers to Europe
Played with Jimmy Rogers until about 1994
How it could have been Good Rockin’ Charles rather than Big Walter on the song Walkin’ By Myself
Big Walter was painting houses before he recorded Walkin’ By Myself
The time when Muddy Waters devoted a live performance of I’m Ready to Steve’s mother
Live At The Dinosaur was Steve’s first album release
Last Train To Dover was first studio album Steve released, in memory of William Clarke
Steve had a great time playing in Memphis, the home of the Blues
Recorded a version of John Henry on chromatic
Took some classical chromatic lessons when younger
Past Life Blues album and influence of George Smith on Steve
Released a duo album with Richard Farrell
Steve bought lots of 78 recordings of the blues harmonica greats, including SBW II
Radio Blues album is the last album Steve released, in 2008. There are songs in the vault Steve would like to release
Steve’s songwriting process
Past Life Blues album title comes from early songs he wrote
Released a tutorial book / DVD called Blues Harmonica through Hal Leonard publishing, and importance of having a guitar player who can play some harmonica
Places played when touring Europe and South America
10 minute question: play the harmonica upside down as well as the right way up
Tone is a little different when playing upside down
Diatonic of choice is mainly Hohner Marine Band and Old Standby, but played some of the Bends from Brazil
Plays both 12 and 16 hole chromatics
Different positions
Fifth position song by Sammy Lewis
Doesn’t play overblows, and doesn’t like to play too many notes
Call and response of SBW II (Rice Miller)
Steve is a tongue blocker
Uses Fender Princeton amp now (no reverb), used to use a Fender Concert
Also uses a small Gibson Skylark amp
Jimmy Rogers told Steve that equipment in the 1940s was the same, except the amps were smaller
Jimmy Rogers used to take over harmonica when SBW I was too drunk to play
Gets mics from Dennis Gruenling
King Biscuit Boy: Canadian harmonica players from the 1970s, gave Steve an Acstatic JT30 that was made in Canada
Mics used to be available for cheap prices
Plays on Dennis Gruenling’s Tribute To Little Walter album: I Just Keep Loving Him
Doesn’t use any effects
Echo Doo-wop song
Future plans: due to play in Switzerland soon to play a tribute to Jimmy Rogers
Musicians in Europe can play the blues well