John Callahan

This is me on Marine Band harmonica and vocals (yikes!). You’ll probably want to turn the volume down…


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harmonicker

This might be a good time to remind ourselves of the one salient feature of folk music that distinguishes it from art music and pop music: though master musicians play a pivotal role, it depends also on amateurs, of all levels of technical expertise, to play it and pass it on.

I’m thinking I should file this under “humor.”

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

20 Comments


  1. Dave! I’m gob-smacked. How fantastic to hear your actual voice and your actual harmonica in this most authentic-sounding fragment of Americana. Now I want the video of you performing this in the woods or on your back porch. Come on, it can be done.

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  2. (Hmmm. I’m not getting the ‘server error’ message that others are reporting when they leave comments. I hope that means it’s just a temporary state of affairs.)

    Natalie, glad you liked. I’d prefer not to mess with learning how to take and upload videos yet. One thing at a time — I’m a slow learner. (Really!) I could add a still photo, though. Maybe I’ll do that…

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  3. Love it. Wish more people played music (as opposed to playing recordings of music) period.

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  4. Very nice! I especially like the vocal twang and quiver at “fare thee well my darling.”

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  5. I didn’t know you play harmonica and sing! Very nice rendition in an appropriately regional style!

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  6. I didn’t know that you play harmonica and sing as well! Very nice rendition in an appropriately regional style!

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  7. Thanks, all. Apologies for the continued squirreliness of the commenting system here.

    Wish more people played music
    Yeah. If even a lazy bastard like me can learn a simple instrument, i dare say anyone can.

    I especially like the vocal twang and quiver
    Thanks. It sounds better in a slightly higher register, but I don’t have the right harmonica for that (maybe if I wouldn’t spend my money on things like microphones…)

    Very nice rendition in an appropriately regional style!
    Thanks. I guess it’s appropriate, though the song seems pretty Scottish to me — like so many Appalachian tunes.

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  8. Oh, this is great, Dave! I love folk music and it is wonderful to keep it going, that it not be forgotten. (I wish I could sing even as an amateur!) Just curious, do you always play and sing lying down?

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  9. Too bad the download’s so buggy for me. My computer crashed both times (this post and the previous one), so I’ll just have to imagine what your caterwauling singing sounds like, Mr Ali Farka Toure of the North.

    Bloody internet explorer.

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  10. marja-leena – Thanks. No, actually I rarely sing lying down; I was just looking for a more interesting shot. I tried taking pictures of me sitting or standing up, but they weren’t very interesting because my hands hid half my face!

    Teju – Huh. Well, I’m totally new to this recording-and-posting-audio thing, so if you want to suggest a better way I could do it, I’m all ears. I’m using Audacity software to record and Ease Audio Converter’s Audio Cutter to convert the .wav files to a more compact format (mp3, though it gives other options). Fileden.com seemed like a good remote storage host because, unlike most other free web hosts, they don’t take stuff down after a while.

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  11. Wow, dave. That’s very cool. Love the sound of the harmonica. Your voice is a great surprise.

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  12. What fun! You know, you strike me as being very brave. Not only are you posting audio of yourself playing & singing, you’ve now posted a picture of your BUTT on your blog. (Surely you remember me remarking ages ago that I’d never post pix of my backside on HO…and the fetal ball position definitely qualifies.)

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  13. robin andrea – A surprise? Dare I ask what you would’ve expected?

    Lorianne – If being brave is the same thing as not giving a %$#@ what people think, I suppose I qualify. I got to feeling very self-indulgent, yesterday, which is I suppose one reason why I decided to add a less-than-flattering photo. I dunno. I these kinds of things on instinct. What’s that pencil doing there, for example? I placed it there deliberately, but I have no idea why.

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  14. Goodness, I didn’t notice the pencil ’til you mentioned it: wtf? I guess I was looking at your butt… ;-)

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  15. Well, I think that’s pretty darned neat! Enjoyed the music and hearing your voice. Btw, the file downloaded into my computer and went into the iTunes collection (which I don’t ever use). Funny thing when I opened iTunes to listen to your clip — there you were among all of the sound files I’ve made of frog calls here at the farm. Don’t worry…that’s no reflection on your singing… just shows that the only time I listen to “music” on my computer is when I’m playing frog calls — so, actually, you’re in excellent company.

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  16. Good grief, I have a new version of Windows Media Player that I haven’t quite got to grips with, and now, since I played this, every time I think I’m restarting Jordi Savall playing Marin Marais (my current soothing music to work to) I get you instead!

    Seriously, this is great – you should definitely do more.

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  17. Talk about techno-slow…I have been trying and trying to play your audio clips on my Mac laptop, and it just wouldn’t work. Checked and rechecked all my cables, tried launching it from iTunes, and nada. I figured I must need some Windows app that I just didn’t have.

    What a goof-ball.
    Now, almost a week later, I realized I left the Mute box checked in my System Prefs.
    Doh!!!

    Anyway, this was definitely worth the inept wrangling. Your voice and intensity remind me of some of the bluegrass musicians who were responsible for putting the notion in my head that I should move to Central Texas.

    One lovely thing about a harmonica is no tuning. I used to wait for hours for my buddies to get done tuning so they’d play, and then of course one song later they’d tune some more. Or maybe the tuning was just an excuse to drink more beer…

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