Short Stories

Harmonica visitors submit fiction or non-fiction short stories based on experiences that involve the harmonica or harmonica playing. If you would like to have a short story included in our collection, please note the procedures for submission in the bullet points on the Short Stories main page.

Derell Gibson

I come from a very soulful down home blues family. Ironically, neither of my parents are musicians. My daddy is from Greenville, Mississippi and my mama is from Eudora, Arkansas. I grew up listening to Blues, R&B, and soul. Ever since being a child I can remember hearing blues harmonica and I thought the sound was cooler than the other side of the pillow. Don't get me wrong I love the way Stevie wonder plays, but Blues was my favorite out of all those types of music.

I barely got my first harp when I was around 19 or 20 years of age. Being that I'm only 24, that makes it about 4 or 5 years ago. That first harp was approximately $10.00. I didn't know any better then. I played the little 1 page booklet and cassette for about 2 days. I wasn't big on "Mary had a little lamb" and "twinkle twinkle little star", and I wanted to play like the greats. I picked it up, off and on, through the years, with very little success.

About a year ago I got the desire to play again and I couldn't find that cheap little harp for the life of me. I only found the cassette tape. So I went to a local music store, and what do you know I bought the same little cheap harp and an instruction booklet with a brief 3-4 page blues instruction. I got a little further this time but I couldn't get any sound out of draw 2. "Damn", just when I was starting to get somewhere. The music store informed me that due to health issues, there are no harmonica refunds. The store clerck also informed me that you get what you pay for. Back I went and bought a big river harp key of "C", which was the beginning for me. I also bought a blues instruction manual.

On my way home, I realized through the instruction manual that there were other ways to play rather than the pucker method. I started playing the tongue block method and found that a new beginning. I always heard of bending but never knew how to do it. Not for long. I very quickly found out how to bend (I'm talking "bend that'll make ya mama cringe"). It was amazing that I had been missing out on all this. From the blues manual and a blues song book I bought, my playing shot to another level. I couldn't put the harp down which made my girlfriend mad, but I didn't care.

I soon got a job that would not let me play as much so I cut back. Pretty soon I wasn't playing at all. I ended up getting laid off my job around the same time my girlfriend took a 3 week vacation. Let me tell you, it was like magic when I picked it back up. It was like I had practiced the whole three months of inactivity. I had all the time to practice without pissing off my girlfriend. The most amazing thing was I accidentally learned what improvising was, as I tried to play along with blues tapes. It came naturally: the old blues stuff I grew up listening to poured out of my heart and soul at will. I couldn't believe it.

When my girlfriend came back from vacation she couldn't believe it. she must have thought I secretly took lessons or something. She would make remarks like "how did you learn that", or "did you make that up". I was infact making up my own stuff. I don't event look at music anymore I just play from the heart and make it up as I go along. Another amazing thing is I can now play the pucker method. I think because my mouth subconsciously knows where to go. I'm far from the best, but I can hold my own now.

I have expanded to a Lee Oskar key of "G", but I still love to wail the most on my Big River key of "C". I have learned quite a bit of information from this site. Thank you for allowing me to express my story and I will never put the harp down for more than a couple of days.

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