Playbill

Nothing says blues quicker than the fat sounds of a miked harmonica. Think of the great Chicago/Delta players: Big Walter, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson (I and II), James Cotton and Junior Wells. Their influence has been so pervasive that no contemporary-blues harmonica style has risen to challenge it.

Though the harp is not the first instrument one associates with Texas blues, the Lone Star State is or has been home to some of the best players in the business, people like Sam Myers, Kim Wilson and Gary Primich. During the past decade, dozens of first-class Texan harpists have begun to fashion a modern sound that honors tradition but is not averse to the brighter instrumentation and swinging tempos that characterize contemporary blues.

You'll be able to hear the full range of the blues harp, Texas-style, when four of Houston's finest join forces for the inaugural Gulf Coast Harmonica Rumble. Rumble organizer Sonny Boy Terry, who spent years backing Joe "Guitar" Hughes and toured with Jimmy "Louisiana" Dotson, will be playing tunes from his new CD, Breakfast Dance.

Rounding out the bill are Tommy Dardar, Dave Nevling and Steve "Satch" Krase, Houstonians one and all. Dardar, a mainstay on the local scene since the '60s, favors a joyful, swampy approach to his undeniably Gulf Coast blues. Nevling got his start with Bert Wills and later played with Mark May and the Agitators. Krase has performed and recorded with Jerry Lightfoot, among others.

Host James "The Blues Hound" Nagel will introduce each of the artists for a 45-minute set; for the finale, all four players will jam together in true rumble fashion. So if you're in the vicinity of Dan Electro's and think you hear thunder, check the skies. It's probably not a tropical storm but the Gulf Coast Harmonica Rumble.

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Aaron Howard