FreeWheelin' Music Safari

A Blues Weekend Part 1 – Carlos Del Junco

so this weekend I downloaded and listen to two great blues albums. The first album was Big Boy from Carlos del Junco. Currently, Carlos’ new album Mongrel Mash with his band The Blues Mongrels is number 44 on the Roots Music Blues Chart. When I went to Napster that album was not available, so I chose Big Boy. Once again being in my own little blues world I had never heard of Carlos. Carlos was born in Havana and moved to Toronto at the age of one. Ah, there’s why I’ve never heard of him Canada is hiding him!!  But the opening notes from the first track “Heaven’s Where You’ll Dwell” told me that this guy can play the harp and a trip to his website confirmed my opinion, as Carlos was from 1997 to 2010 Harmonica Player of the Year. A total of SEVEN times out of the Canadian Maple Blues Award’s FOURTEEN year history, and his 2010 album Steady Movin’ has been nominated for a Juno award. From his website:

Carlos is one of those players whose music is so advanced that when it comes to awards, it’s either retire the category or rephrase the question to “Best Harmonica Player Not Named Carlos”. This includes two Gold Medals from the Hohner World Harmonica Championship in Trossingen, Germany, as well as multiple national awards in Canada.

To say he plays the harmonica is like saying “Jimi Hendrix plays guitar”. He blows the blues harp through a prism — suddenly it seems he’s holding every color in the musical rainbow right there in his hands.

So listening to the first few tracks I thought that the harmonica felt very rich and this is what I discovered at his website:

Playing a ten hole diatonic harmonica, Carlos has developed the unique ability to play chromatically by using a recently developed “overblow” technique taught to him by jazz virtuoso Howard Levy. Overall, this approach to the diatonic harmonica, although much more difficult to achieve, is in many ways more expressive and communicative than the mechanized tone produced by the chromatic harmonica . Carlos is one of the few pioneers of this overblow method, bringing musical credibility to what has still been considered by many in the music industry – a fringe folk instrument. The sophisticated sound produced by del Junco is at once sensitive, soulful, and sexy while never forgetting the rawness inherent in blues music.

So the harp playing is great as are the vocals and the rest of the instruments on the album. Overall the album is a lot of fun and I know it’s going to get a lot of play. So if you’ve never heard Carlos’ music check him out. As for me I’m on the hunt for Mongrel Mash and any other of Carlos’ albums!!

Here’s Carlos at the International Blues Challenge semifinals in February