Happy Hour Harmonica Podcast

Ed Hopwood interview

May 03, 2023 Neil Warren Season 1 Episode 85
Happy Hour Harmonica Podcast
Ed Hopwood interview
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Ed Hopwood joins me on episode 85.
Ed is from the UK where he started out playing drums and he shares some tips on how to bring some rhythm into our harmonica playing. 
Ed loves early styles of harmonica and performs a range genres, including jug band, early blues, cajun, bluegrass and old-timey music. Ed has a one man band show where he plays harmonica, guitar, sings and a whole host of percussion instruments. He’s brought many of these skills to his main band, The Rigmarollers, a trio who play a mixture of barrelhouse blues, ragtime, jazz, swing, gospel and infectious zydeco grooves.
As well as performing, Ed runs his harmonica tuition school, the Harmonica Barge, from the canal barge on which he lives in London. 


Ed’s website:

The Rigmarollers band:

Teaching website:

Solo recordings on Soundcloud:

Mark Harrison albums:

Seth Shumate, old-time harmonica player:

One man band act:

Rory McLeod, Love Like A Rock:

Solo gig at The Green Note:

Ed solo: Born In The Wrong Time:

Peter Madcat Ruth playing Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out:

Harmonica Barge YouTube site:

Cajun music interview with Ed:

Country Blues lesson:

Cindy, Old-time tune:

I Shall Not Be Moved, Gospel song:

Podcast website:

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

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Ed is from the UK, born in Derby
First instrument was drums, inspired by father, who has worked as a professional drummer
What influence did drummer father have on Ed’s music career and how Ed learnt music
Started playing harmonica age 13, enjoying the portability compared to drums
Early harmonica exposure from The Blues Collection magazine / CD series
Started studying music seriously when attended music college in early 20s
Studied carpentry before attending music school
Isn’t using carpentry skills to make harmonica combs
Ed lives on a canal barge, called Muddy Waters, from where he runs his harmonica tuition business: the Harmonica Barge
Musical community living on the boat
Runs a harmonica school called The Harmonica Barge
Attended music college, first for popular music, then more focus on composition and song writing
Played a little harmonica as part of the college course, with the portability becoming increasingly appealing
One man band show is now making Ed having to carry more equipment again
Tips on how to bring rhythm into your harmonica playing, from a drumming perspective
Rhythmic repetitive licks are effective on harmonica
Playing specific rhythms as part of harmonica playing, and implicit and explicit learning
Other instruments Ed plays include: percussion, guitar, vocals, and one-man band show
Tips for getting started as a one-man band include using your feet as the rhythm and strap a tambourine to your foot
One of styles Ed plays is jug band music, and what makes up this genre of music
Influences for Ed getting into pre-war styles
Got interested in Bluegrass and old-timey music
Had some lessons with Will Greener, who helped run the London Harps group
Was a member of the Mark Harrison band, originally on drums, then on harmonica and backing vocals
Drummers often have to play whatever kit is available
Started out playing solo gigs
The Rigmarollers band is Ed’s main focus now
Hammond’s Place and Born In The Wrong time solo performance songs
The Rigmarollers trio and first album: Mr Crump Don’t Like It
Ed plays some kazoo and nose flute with The Rigmarollers
Some of the songs from the Mr Crump Don’t Like It album
Jed Davenport: early harmonica player
Ed’s teaching on the Harmonica Barge and approach to teaching
Different harmonica styles Ed teaches, starting with the fox chase
Cajun harmonica and father played in a Cajun band
Gospel harmonica and Elder Roma Wilson
Old-timey music, based around playing tunes
Teaches different styles to introduce people to the different genres it’s possible to play on harmonica
What advantages playing tunes and melodically can bring to your harmonica playing
Session work Ed has recorded
Only plays diatonic harmonica, with plans to try some chromatic
10 minute question
Practise routine
Harmonica of choice is Hohner Marine Band, mostly Crossovers
Does some harmonica maintenance himself and likes custom combs
What maintenance Ed performs on the harps
Doesn’t really use overblows
Uses different positions, including 5th
Different tunings and Powerbender
Embouchre: started tongue blocking but uses the embouchre that suits the style of music
Amp: Fishman Mini Loudbox for clean sound and Laney tube amp
Blows Me Away Ultimate 58 mic and a Bulletini
Effects: Harp Break and Octave pedal
Hazmat Modine touring Europe summer of 2023
Uses reverb from the amp and Boss pedal and delay pedal
Future plans and new album out later this year