From: "Adam S. Gussow" <;asguss~hoenix.Princeton.EDU>;
Date: Mon, 6 Nov 1995 16:51:54 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: harp-l-digest V1 #165

Dear Harp-Lers:

On the question of Bob Shatkin/The New School's harmonica program:

I don't know exactly what's going on at the Guitar Study Center now-which
is located on the Sixth Floor of the New School (66 W. 12th St), and is
where Bob teaches, but
I'd bet it's pretty close to what it was back in the late eighties/early
nineties. I was one of two "Staff Instructors in Blues Harmonica" there
from '86 to '91, and in fact Bob Shatkin and I overlapped during the last
year or so. I taught courses in Beginning and Intermediate blues harp.
Fall and Spring sessions met, as I remember, for an hour once a week for
twelve weeks; summer sessions were an
hour-and-a-half for eight sessions. Five to eight people in a class,
usually. I'd bring in records and have a weekly fight with the New
School Audio-Visual people to make sure a turntable was brought in so I
could play stuff. That was in the old days, when people still hauled
stacks of records around under their arms. I'd bring in Little Walter,
James Cotton, Big Walter with Carey Bell, but also Howard Levy's
"Harmonica Jazz" tape, which none of the beginning blues harpists seemed
to GET. Sometimes we'd have a combined class with the beginning blues
keyboard class and try to make shuffles happen.

It was a useful class for people, I think, not least because I was in the
middle of a steep learning curve myself, was passionately in love with
the licks we were pulling off records, and my enthusiasm seemed to drive
everybody. My best student, in his early fifties, was playing in two
bands at clubs like Manny's CarWash less than a year after he left the
class.

Short answer is: It's a worthwhile class, whoever's teaching it. You'll
meet like-minded others--more often than not, curiously enough,
suddenly-single guys with broken hearts and lots of time to practice and
obsess. (Which is not to say I didn't have women students.) The cost
then was something like $20 a session--$240 for the 12 weeks--but I'm
sure it's gone up.

John Popper wasn't, at least while I was there, part of the Guitar Study
Center harp program; he was downstairs, in the New School Jazz Program.
We were up on the sixth floor, in our own little world. I ran into John
all over the city in those days; he'd show up at Dan Lynch--our best,
scuzziest, most wonderfully atmospheric blues bar--for a jam, with the
early incarnation of Blues Traveller, and play amazingly fast if not
amazingly bluesy solos on slow blues songs. Next week he'd be hosting a
weird alternative jam in some second-floor space in Chelsea. One evening
I jammed with him and an acoustic guitar player in Washington Square
Park. He was singing and playing MIND-BENDING solos on a four-hole
Hohner "Little Lady". I mean you would not believe the things he was
doing.

Anybody else run into Popper this way, in the early days?

Best to yall--

Adam


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