A Long Night Of The Harmonicas At Minute Maid Park
Photos by Groovehouse
For more photos from Friday's Harmonica Night, see our slideshow here.
Rocks Off spent a lot of time last week wondering what Minute Maid Park was going to sound like this past Friday. In cooperation with the Astros, the people behind last year's harmonica documentary Pocket Full of Soul had organized an attempt to break the official Guinness world record for Largest Harmonica Ensemble by passing out 10,000 harmonicas (color-coded green, red and blue) before the game.
Our best guess was a cross between the biggest Houston Blues Society meeting ever and the plague of locusts Rocks Off keeps expecting God to visit on us any day now; humanity is in pretty bad shape right now, and it seems to us like the Big Man may be running out of both patience and ideas to get us all to sit up and pay attention. But that turned out not to be the case at all.
Instead, all game long we heard kids tooting their harmonicas faintly in the distance - actually, some of them were doing it pretty close to where we were sitting, as in right behind us - so it was really more like walking close (but not too close) to a trainyard where a few hobos have camped for the night and are serenading each other around one of those oil-drum campfires.
Harmonica Night "yell leader" Sonny Boy Terry
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We don't think the harmonicas were too distracting to the players on the field, either. The game was a well-pitched, low-scoring affair, which the Astros tied 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh and probably should have won when Michael Bourn tripled with one out in the bottom of the 10th. Unfortunately, the next two batters couldn't get our lone All-Star this season home, and the Dodgers ultimately won when left fielder Jay Gibbons smacked a two-run homer to right-center in the top of the 11th.
This meant the game did not end until around 11 p.m., by which time most of the crowd at Minute Maid had left, many of them clutching the night's other promotional prize: Larry Dierker Bobble-Head Dolls. Those who remained made their way into the ballpark's lower tier of seats for the world-record attempt.
Rocks Off is almost positive there were not 10,000 people left in the stadium - or anywhere close, for that matter but there may have been enough to still break the record, which according to Pocket Full co-executive producer Todd Slobin was set in Hong Kong at 6,131 harmonicas. (We emailed Slobin earlier today to see if Houston broke the record, but have not heard back yet.)
After some explanation from Pocket Full director Marc Lempert on the big screen, Houston's Sonny Boy Terry and a few other musicians took turns leading those still left through the well-known, well-worn harmonica riff to Bo Diddley's "I'm a Man."
Wearing T-shirts coordinated to the harmonica colors, Terry and the other musicians stationed at one of three microphones on the field would play the opening (da-DAH-da-DA), and the fans holding the proper color harmonica would respond with the phrase's final two notes: DAH... DAH - which, oddly, sounded like the train whistle at Minute Maid whenever an Astro hits a home run.
This went on for about five minutes while, in Rocks Off's best guess, about one-third of those on hand just sort of noodled around on their harmonicas at will, creating an oddly avant-garde backdrop for those ragged train-whistle blasts.
Then everyone put their harps down and settled in for a lengthy fireworks show scored to some of rock's greatest harmonica hits: U2's "Desire," The Romantics' "What I Like About You," the Beatles' "Love Me Do" (which we heard at least three times Friday) and a Zeppelin song we couldn't quite identify due to the fireworks' machine-gun rapidity and volume.
And one more: The Rolling Stones' "Midnight Rambler." This turned out to be the most appropriate choice of all, because at this point Minute Maid's Night of the Harmonicas really had turned into a midnight ramble.
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