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From Railway Wails To Off The Rails: Buyer's Guide To Harmonica Blues

Blues just wouldn’t be the same without the wailing of the harp. Here we celebrate the people who blow the hardest…

NO ONE KNOWS when the harmonica first got the blues, but WC Handy reported hearing train imitations being played on the instrument in the 1870s, and by the 1920s, after Mamie Smith hit with Crazy Blues, it had become an integral part of the soundtrack to the south of the US. Come the late 40s and early 50s, with the advent of amplification and hand-held mics, the blues harp found its voice, with practitioners Little Walter Jacobs, Big Walter Horton, Sonny Boy Williamson II and Snooky Pryor taking it into new realms with wailing solos as expressive as any guitar riff or lick.

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