Harmonica -- Fiddle Style -- CARA COOKE
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FIDDLE-STYLE HARMONICA

Howdy! My name is Cara Cooke. I am a fiddle-style harmonica player living in Austin, Texas. (While I play other styles of harmonica as well, I specialize in a single note fiddle-style harmonica.)
Bluegrass harmonica workshop at Old Settler's Music Festival 2001



Harmonica workshop at the Old Settlers Music Festival, Dripping Springs, Tx. (April 2001) --photo by Jim Dirden. The band backing me is the High Stakes Rollers (Austin, Tx.).


I play a great deal of bluegrass music, but I also play some jazz, blues, country, Irish, classical, etc., as well. To me, my harmonica is essentially a fiddle with reeds, instead of strings and a bow.

I have been playing fiddle-style harmonica for 28 years or so and am interested in sharing information with other players with similar interests. I am a member of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), the Central Texas Bluegrass Association (CTBA), the Bay Area Bluegrass Association (BABA), Austin Friends of Traditional Music, the Austin Chapter of the Harmonica Organization of Texas (HOOT), and the Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica (SPAH). I am one of the songwriters of American Heritage, and I currently play for RedEye, Manchaca All-stars, the Blazing Bows, and K. R. Wood. I also occasionally play for the Ledbetters, the High Stakes Rollers, Wyldwood, Bluegrass Dot Com (also known as "Shawn Spiars and friends") and anyone else who desires my harmonica talents, my vocal harmony talents, my talents with the upright bass, or who needs a mandolin player or a guitar player.

If you wish to contact me, e-mail me at harmonica@mailcity.com.


ANNOUNCEMENTS
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Recently Released Recordings!!:

New CD from the Manchaca All Stars!:

The Manchaca All Stars, after 20 years, has finally produced a CD of the good music enjoyed by the locals at the Manchaca Firehall on Friday nights.   This CD was recorded live, just as if we were enjoying the Firehall's fried catfish under the pavillions at the Clarence Vogel Community Center. On this CD, you will find songs and tunes that have become favorites of our audiences over the years. And, thanks to the contribution of Doug Taylor's bass skills, you will also find my harmonica doing its thing on many of the songs. This will be one of the few CD's you will ever find with a version of "Draggin' the Bow" on harmonica that holds its own against the fiddle.   If you are interested in a Manchaca All Star CD ($10), write us at manchacaallstars@email.com.   We will be proud as punch to set you up with one.

The Crockett Chronicles:

K. R. Wood has released his newest edition of the "Father's of Texas" CD series, the "Crockett Chronicles".  We all know the legendary story of Davy Crockett and the fight at the Alamo, but  K. R. Wood brings the story to life with narrations from the writings and stories of the various people there and music (which sets the story in the heart).  Through favorite songs, like the "Ballad of Davy Crockett" and the "Green Leaves of Summer", a variety of original songs K. R. wrote especially for this project (based upon his research), and a variety of period fiddle tunes in honor of Davy Crockett, the fiddler, K. R. weaves this tale of Texas through the mind.  From start to finish, the CD plays like a movie in the mind.  And for those who are interested in learning what "fiddle-style harmonica" can sound like, we paired my harmonica with the expert fiddling of "Sweet" Mary Hattersley in a rough jam situation somewhat reminiscent of the music that actually was played at the Alamo until the Mexicans breached the walls.  So, get the CD, and listen to Crockett and McGregor play their fiddle and bagpipes at the Alamo and tell you the story that set Texas on its way to independence.  (K. R. 's CD can be ordered at www.texannarecords.com.)

Jim Strickland CD's:

Jim Strickland, a talented songwriter, has been pleasing audiences for many years. His gospel CD was stellar and was followed quickly by a compilation CD of some of his favorite songwriters (himself included).   On these CD's, he also used the talents of some of his favorite local musicians (me included).  I am glad that he got me involved with these projects, because they turned out wonderfully.   If you want to see what everyone is all up about, order his CD's at www.frontroommusic.com.

Central Texas Bluegrass Association band sampler CD:

The Central Texas Bluegrass Association is proud to present their CD sampling some of central Texas' finest bluegrass bands.  This long awaited CD has top-knotch bluegrass music from deep within the heart of Texas.  Both economical and special, this CD boasts 28 tunes (both original and traditional) from 14 bands and only costs $10.  (The association is using this CD as a fund raiser.)  If you would like to hear central Texas' finest bluegrass, order your CD at www.centraltexasbluegrass.org/cdproject.html.

 

HOOT'n in San Antonio!:

If you are a harmonica player in the San Antonio area (Tx.), then help them get this chapter started!

HOOT is trying to get a San Antonio chapter going. If you are a harmonica player in the area, join up and give them a hand. For more information, check out HOOT at www.hoottexas.com.



New Blues Society in San Antonio!:

If you love blues and are in the San Antonio area (Tx.), then the San Antonio Blues Society is for you!

It's new, but it is off to a flying start. And it needs the help of San Antonio blues fans. For more information, check out their site at www.sanantonioblues.com They will be glad to talk to you.



HOOT'n in Houston!:

If you are a harmonica player in the Houston area (Tx.), then this may be the club for you!

The Houston Chapter of HOOT meets every 3rd Wednesday at 7:30pm. in Room E252 East, Tomball Community College (30555 Tomball Parkway, Tomball, Tx.). For more information, check out the Houston chapter of HOOT at www.hoottexas.com or contact Gary Johnson.



HOOT'n in Austin:

If you are a harmonica player in the Austin area (Tx.), then you ought to drop by a meeting and say "Hello" -- maybe even give us thought or two or a tune off of your harp. (Each meeting ends with a little show-and-tell jam.) Our meetings include club business and discussions, but often also include a workshop or lesson of some sort.  We are a small group, but we are talented and growing. We typically meet at the Dougherty Arts Center, 1110 Barton Springs Road, in the main auditorium on the 2nd Monday of the month. To check the next meeting date, go to www.hoottexas.com - Austin chapter - meetings or email Tom Stevens.



Recording! click here to hear a music sample

The High Stakes Rollers, a skilled and talented bluegrass variety group based in Austin, Tx., have produced a CD of their live performances. On that CD, I am honored with an appearance playing harmonica on the swing/bluegrass tune "Little Rock Getaway". To get your own CD for $10, email Cara Cooke or Eddie Collins. 

More information and materials are available from Eddie Collins at http://www.eddiecollins.biz.



Bluegrass Harmonica Workshop:

The Old Settlers Music Festival (Salt Lick Pavillion, Austin, Tx.), is getting ready for the next festival (April 15-18, 2004).  For the last 4 years I have given a bluegrass harmonica workshop at this festival that has been very well received.  If you are interested in bluegrass harmonica, then put this festival on your schedule. 

The festival line-up every year is exceptional. Plenty of bluegrass. Plenty of other stuff.   Included in the festival schedule is a young musicians contest. They have four simultaneous stages to keep you busy all day long and through most of the night. Check out www.oldsettlersmusicfest.org for more information.
 


Harmonica Legends

Visit the webpage of harmonica legend, Lonnie Glosson. Known as the "talkin' harmonica man", he fascinated audiences with his harmonica from the stage and over the radio until the age of 92 (a testament to the healthful benefits of playing the harmonica and of playing music in general). From the 1920's to the 1950's he traveled the country playing the harmonica in shows and on the radio, including a bit on WLS Radio (Chicago) and the Grand Ol' Opry. He even found himself on the television show "Hee Haw" in the 1970's. With his harmonica playing partner, Wayne Raney, he wrote the song, "Why Don't You Haul Off and Love Me." Lonnie's composition "Matthew 24" has been recorded by both Kitty Wells and George Jones.

Recordings of Lonnie's music, and the music of harmonica legends Deford Bailey and Wayne Raney, can be obtained from Lonnie's website at www.lonnieglosson.com for a very reasonable price. Many of these recordings are rare and are a must have for any avid bluegrass/country blues harmonica player. Add some to your collection!



Camp Bluegrass & Swing Camp is gearing up for 2004

Camp Bluegrass & Swing Camp 2004 is scheduled for the week of July 18 through July 23, 2004, and
will be held on the South Plains College campus, 1401 College Ave. Levelland, Texas 79336.  Last year's Camp Bluegrass' faculty included Alan Munde, Wayne Shrubsall, Gerald Jones, Roland White, Steve Smith, Adam Granger, Dix Bruce, Ed Marsh, Joe Carr, Dale Morris, Tom Cook, and Tim McCasland.  It was a blast last year, and we learned a lot.  Swing Camp (with Slim Richey) was also a blast last year and will be again this year.

With instruction, room, and board totaling around $500, you can take an economical vacation for a week and learn about your favorite music or instrument at the same time! These camps are worth the trip! Try them out!

Note: While bluegrass harmonica is not one of the "official" study topics offered at Camp Bluegrass, I expect to be there again this year and I always like to meet and trade information with fellow harmonica players when I find them -- and there usually are a couple. If you want to ask them to include harmonica in their week of instruction, email them. An email address is provided for just such things on their website. They always encourage and listen to ideas, suggestions, requests, and feedback.



Catch the Manchaca AllStars...

The Manchaca AllStars are at their home venue (the Manchaca Firehall) every 2nd Friday of the month: 7:30 pm.-10:30 pm. (when the cows go home). We take requests - especially if they are for a harmonica tune!
[Manchaca, Tx. just south of Austin -- FM 1626, just west of where Manchaca Rd. dead-ends. We are in the pavillion beside the fire station.  The fire station itself houses a restaurant with down-home cuisine and serves as a community center for Manchaca.]

Also catch the Manchaca AllStars on the CTBA band sampler currently available from the Central Texas Bluegrass Association.  And the new Manchaca AllStar Live CD has been released.   After 20 years of playing together, we finally decided to take a chance and record ourselves!   Order it from us at manchacaallstars@email.com.


Jamming...

The Central Texas Bluegrass Association (CTBA) hosts a jam every Sunday afternoon at Artz Ribhouse beginning at 2pm. in afternoon and going on until the jammers quit, weather invades, or the world comes to an end. Indoor jamming is from 2pm. to 5pm. (The jammers then need to clear out of the way for the evening's band to get started at 6pm.)

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