Musical Fractals

20th November, 2019

New music Riff Raffers.

Benoit has his debut album Blue Bird pressed and ready for release. This local singer songwriter from The Basin is establishing himself as a new force in the folk scene here in the Dandenongs and beyond. His lyrical imagery encapsulates the brokenness of humankind, but also the beauty of creation. The album is superbly produced and engineered by David Miller from his lofty studio in Mount Dandenong. Many of Benoit’s creative tunes are fleshed out with a little help from his friends.

It kicks off with the catchy, countrified I Thought I Would Always Have It All that has floating slide guitar by Max Lees and heartfelt harmonica from yours truly. Every tunes a corker, however if I’m to nominate some other standouts I would include Familiar Cliche, It’s Unclear Where All This Water Flows (sweet harmonies by Jessica Nabb) and the final tune the upbeat Silver Lining.

Benoit launches this beautifully presented CD (outstanding original artwork by Glynis Kirby) at the Selby Folk Club on the 29th November check out his FB for further details.

Another record for review features one of Australia’s greatest songwriters Kerryn Tolhurst-former Dingoes and Country Radio member, who wrote Aussie classics such as Way Out West, Smooth Sailing, Singing Your Song, Wintersong and Gypsy Queen. He appears on a fabulous release from Belmar Records-‘Belmar Top 10 Vol.6’. His instrumental Down Slide is one of the highlights on the album, it features Kerryn’s expert slide oozing a blues groove and has a wee bit of harp added by Rob Price. Have to say that another instrumental by Jnr. Wheel-Barrow titled Servo Town is a belter and the Pearly Shells do a wonderful bright and breezy arrangement of Hallelujah. Purchase here on Bandcamp.

Kerryn’s been busy as he has also released a single on all good and bad streaming platforms, Beyond Redemption-this should receive some hefty AirPlay on Community Radio. Kerryn, with band, will be playing gigs under the banner Dingo Radio featuring songs he wrote for The Dingoes and Country Radio. This is a must see for us Dingo and CR tragics. On December 5th Dingo Radio will be performed at the Spotted Mallard in Brunswick, January 5th at the Caravan Club in East Bentleigh, then on February 1st the Newport Bowls Club and then at the fabulous Memo Music Hall in St. Kilda on March 15.

Nice to hear from (all the way from Memphis Tennessee) good friend of HRR, Shea Snow-front man of Driftwood Ramblers an alternative punk blues band. Four patient years have passed since their debut recording, Surviving The Flood Pt.1. Surviving The Flood Part 2 has just hit the airwaves and is also available on Bandcamp. Every tune is a chicken dinner and features Shea’s amplified harp chops. The opener is ready made for radio broadcast and even in its short two and half plus minutes there’s a bass solo, lead solo and a harp solo. Check out Whiskey, Wine & Gin while your at it, there’s a tasty harp riff.


PS: A couple of updates to the post Aussie Timeline. A new find the Bosker and an addition to the Topnotcher range, the Amateur’s Harp. Have a bit of a peek at the HRR Soundcloud a new Riff Hits & Bits, Mandu’s We Ran Across The Sky from 1974 which has the inimitable Jim Conway blowing exquisite harp. Oh, and by the way I have picked up a bargain buy a Chromorgan (with box) for my humble collection of Oz harps.

Larry’s Lesson-NFSCD #11

1st November, 2019

Happy new month Riff Raffers. Our penultimate NFSCD, #11!

Larry Adler was a phenomenon worldwide and he took Australia by storm when he toured in the late 1930’s. He was even a good mate of our Don Bradman. Here’s some sound advice from the little master and a few caricatures to boot.


PS: Benoit has released another tune off his album Blue Bird for aural consumption. I had the honour of blowing a little harp on the melodic I Thought That I Would Always Have It All. Thanks Benoit. Details of his CD launch on his Facebook. A couple of new additions to Aussie Models Timeline 1925 & 1929. Check them out you need to scroll right down for pictures and information.

The Bells, The Bells.

18th October, 2019

Hey there Riff Raffers,

A look at an Aussie harp from yesteryear, a couple of record reviews and a few bibs and bobs. Don’t forget to visit Harmonica Riff Raff Soundcloud and YouTube for more treats.

In 1909 in Australia Albert’s was selling a unique Boomerang mouth organ with a double cup set of bells attached to the rear of the instrument via an arch with a boomerang shaped bend at the apex. It was a series called the B.A.B-Boomerang Arch Bell models. Pictured is the 40 reeds Professional edition which sold for five shillings and sixpence-there was a mini (20 reeds) of similar structure and a mini double as well. Two other models the 2-sided and the 4-sided (sold for seventeen shillings and sixpence) had one set and two sets of bells respectively, however they were mounted on top. The five versions can be viewed in Ray Grieve’s fabulous books on the mouth organ in Australia (a third is awaiting a publisher). The bells of different pitches would be tuned to the key of the harp and with the use of a lever on either side could be struck by both forefingers in an accompanying rhythm while blowing the tune.

The mouth organs were manufactured by Seydel in Saxony, however the bells would more than likely have been manufactured elsewhere. I don’t believe Seydel made a similar model for other world markets. It looks like the Arch Bell didn’t reappear after World War 1 and I don’t believe any have survived today. The very nature of it’s design found it wanting when withstanding the laws of physics. Even the top mounted bells of the day were fragile and extinction was never far away.

A similar bell structure emerged later on a harmonica made by A A Schmitt of Klingethal on their Lyra brand seen above. The University Chimes (German made-pictured below) sold by Sears Roebuck in America under the brand name of Beaver also had a similar double cup mounted bells, however this was attached on top.

The earliest mention I could find advertised Down Under was a ten hole mouth harmonica with bell, which sold for two shillings and sixpence in Hobart by J Walch and Sons in 1882. The model pictured below was advertised in The Farmer & Settler (Sydney) 18th July 1906 made by Gerbruder Schuster (Schuster Brothers) at Markneukirchen which sold for three shillings.

Ken Leiboff provides a fine demonstration of playing a harmonica with bells on the information highway. See here đź””.

The bells have told!


PS: A wee bit of Album news. South Australian band Lazy Eye is set to release their sixth album Whiskey & Gin next month and they’re giving it away track by track. You can join the Whisky & Gin Rent Party by reserving a ticket here. It all starts on the 23rd October. A video clip of their fantastic title tune can be viewed here Whisky.

“Just when you thought Lazy Eye had reached their peak they take you over the top with their new album release Whisky & Gin. This is a toe tappin’ finger clickin’ treat. Not only have they put the hip into hypnotizing, but also the groove into groovy. No harp (mouth) but plenty of horn. Lazy Eye have added some herbs and spices to their Blues cookin’ with a three piece horn section and single malt harmonies. Do yourself a flavour and pick this up at all good and bad record stores.”  Shep (Harmonica Riff Raff)

“Every now and then a tune hits you right between the ‘ten speed gears’. Sunshine Coast band Flaskas have achieved this with their latest single Song Bird. Lovingly crafted with a marching rhythm, earthy vocals, singing slide and then when combined with the magic ingredient the ‘ten hole tin can’ Song Bird is elevated to higher realms. They did the Song Bird proud!” Shep (Harmonica Riff Raff) Hear here Song Bird . Out now at all good and bad streaming platforms.

While we’re on the topic of our feathered friends a quick update on Benoit’s fantastic album Blue Bird. His launch will be held at the Selby Folk Club on the 29th of November. The album cover is completed and I must say Lyn’s artwork is superb. Benoit has posted for want of a better word or cliche an interesting video clip of a tune from the album titled Familiar Cliche.

Just another quick one John Whiteman’s fabulous book on Harmonica Box Art is available for purchase here in Oz on eBay. Shame about the postage costs.

Oh, by the way Ken dug up a Cracker Jack relic and posted a pic and a comment on a previous Dawg Blawg #28285.