Below is an article I wrote that was published in Harmonica World Magazine late last year:
The Blue Saturday was advertised not just as a gathering of harmonica players but a day of tuition and workshops, followed by a jam session and an evening concert. The wegottickets website offered three different tutors and three different standards: Richard Taylor teaching beginners classes, Hugh Budden with the intermediate/advanced and Giles King with advanced playing. The techniques and topics they would be covering were clearly listed, I just needed to click and book.
Job done. This Blue Saturday was already looking quite slick and very well organised. High Wycombe offered a good choice of local hotels at reasonable prices, all just minutes walk from the venue.
The Arts4All Centre is centrally placed within the town and well set up with multiple rooms ideal for workshops. Clear space and multiple doors between each room meant that any noise from amps or group playing would not disturb other workshops. Upon arrival I met Big Azza who totally lived up to his name as a giant of a man. I was welcomed, signed in, name badged and wrist-banded according to which workshop I would be attending. The wrist bands helped identify immediately who I would be spending the day with and I felt that it really helped break the ice. We even received
a free gift of a beautiful leather harmonica pouch and a tie pin. A couple of fellow attendees were already milling around and more ice was broken over a coffee and discussions about what harps we preferred and our playing experience.
It’s fair to say that I am a very experienced harmonica player, but I have to tell you that this event demonstrated to me that there is always something for all of us to learn. I learnt a microphone technique from a fellow workshop attendee, I learnt acoustic and electric tone projection along with a deeper vibrato from Giles King as well as a new way of thinking about how many harps to take to a gig from Hugh Budden. The tuition continued unwittingly into the evening concert as I received a lesson in frontmanship (my new word, dedicated to the man) from watching Hugh Budden’s excellent onstage persona. Richard Taylor’s working of a band in a live situation was formidable as
he directed which chords they were to play AS he was singing!
For me personally the event served to make new connections and to be inspired to get out of the rut I felt my playing had slipped in to. It had been a few years since I last attended an event and my experience this time means that I will be attending regularly once more.
Well done and thanks to Big Azza and crew, a great event. See you next at the next one.