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Johnny Sansone pays tribute to “Little Walter” Jacobs

Harmonica wizard Johnny Sansone is holding a Harmonica Workshop Saturday, Oct. 20 in Marksville, Louisiana, the hometown of revolutionary harmonica great “Little Walter” Jacobs.

Jacobs quit school at age 12 and hit the road, playing street music on guitar and harmonica throughout the deep south until moving to Chicago in 1945, where he quickly asserted himself as the king of blues harmonica after electrifying his sound. Playing harmonica through a microphone to produce a sound that could rival electric guitars and using unique distortion effects, Jacobs became the father of modern harmonica playing.

Johnny Sansone. Photo by Greg Miles.

He joined Muddy Waters’ band in ’48 and was using the amplified harmonica on Waters’ recordings beginning in ’51. In 1952 Walter recorded the iconic “Juke,” the only harmonica instrumental ever to be a No. 1 hit record. In 1955 Jacobs topped the R&B chart again with “My Babe.”

“We are so excited to pay tribute to the birthplace of Little Walter, the undisputed king of the blues harmonica,” says Sansone. “I have to believe there is a future Little Walter in Marksville and we are going to be looking for him or her. I know for sure this event will inspire some future professional harp players, as we put brand new free harmonicas in the hands of 200 students.”  The first 200 registrants will get free Hohner harmonicas.

At the workshop, which will be held at the Fox Theater on Washington Street in Marksville, Sansone will teach the students how to play the blues harp along with Greg Izor and Harvey Harp and The Crescent City Harmonica Club.

Sansone and Izor will perform that night at the newly reopened Bailey Theater on the Courthouse Square, where they will be joined by Jimmy Buffet’s harmonica player Greg “Fingers” Taylor. Advanced students from the workshop are expected to participate in a jam session at the concert.

To register call Van Roy at 318-240-3495 or Jonathan Knoll at 225-266-4196.