Steve Baker grew up in London and has lived in Germany since the late 1970s. A self-taught musician who took up the harmonica in 1969, he has played the instrument professionally since 1975 and has been cited as one of the world’s top ten blues harmonica stylists by no less than Detlev Hoegen, boss of the renowned blues label CrossCut Records. Steve now lives near Hamburg, where he first came in the late 1970s with the crazed Anglo-American jugband "Have Mercy".
A full-time professional musician for almost 35 years now, he has earned an enviable reputation as an innovator and pioneer on the frequently under-estimated diatonic harmonica and has developed an instantly recognizable original style which is both expressive and lyrical, but is never merely an end in itself. It puts the music first and his playing is always directed at bringing out the best in the song. His subtle and rhythmically accented phrasing, combined with a rich command of timbre and tone, communicates an emotional intensity and depth of feeling which is rarely heard on the harmonica. For this reason he is often regarded as one of those players who have revitalized the instrument in Europe, and as one of its leading exponents worldwide. His unique sound draws on the blues harmonica tradition and combines it with elements from country, folk, funk, soul and jazz to create an exciting and individual fusion, which transcends stylistic boundaries while sounding totally natural. "I want every note to tell a story".
Steve has performed and recorded for over 20 years with blues icon Abi Wallenstein, most recently in the trio BluesCulture with Martin Röttger. BluesCulture have performed on a number of international festivals including the Vienna Blues Spring, Piazza Blues and Moscow Harmonica Festival as well as giving countless club concerts. Until the latter's untimely death in autumn 2005, Steve performed and recorded regularly with guitarist/songwriter extraordinaire Chris Jones. Jones and Baker released four critically acclaimed CDs together on Acoustic Music Records and toured in Australia, Poland, Russia and the USA as well as in western Europe. Reviving a musical partnership going back over 30 years, Steve released the country blues CD “King Kazoo” with singer/guitarist Dick Bird on Acoustic Music Records in 2008.
In 2010 he met Canadian guitar virtuoso and singer/songwriter Dave Goodman, and after jamming together a few times, Goodman & Baker decided to join forces for a new project. In 2012 they released the highly acclaimed CD "The Wine Dark Sea" (AMR 319.1478). They now perform together as the Dave Goodman Band with drummer Oliver Spanuth and are currently putting together material for a new CD.
Since 2008 Steve Baker has been a regular guest at the annual SPAH harmonica festival in the USA, where he has fronted several shows as a bandleader including appearances with Jason Ricci’s band New Blood, the Blues Survivors feat. Rusty Zinn and in duos with Jimi Lee and Eric Noden.
In the 1980s and 90s Steve played on hundreds of recordings as a studio musician and was featured on a wide variety of CD productions by artists including Dionne Warwick, Marla Glenn, Klaus Doldinger, Irmin Schmidt, James Last, Bonnie Tyler and many more, as well as on countless jingles and German pop productions, TV and film soundtracks. More recently he appeared on the soundtrack to “Soul Kitchen” by cult German/Turkish director Fatih Akin, which was awarded the special prize at the Venice Film Festival in 2009.
Since 1987 he has worked as a consultant for the worldwide leader in harmonica manufacture, Hohner, and has been closely involved in the development of the recent additions to the legendary Marine Band range of harmonicas including the Marine Band Deluxe, Marine Band Crossover and Marine Band Thunderbird.
Joe Filisko is the leading expert on traditional diatonic blues harmonica styles, with an encyclopedic knowledge of the playing techniques and music of the defining players of both pre- and post-war eras. He has taught at the Harmonica Masters Workshops from the very beginning, starting in 2003 and his weekly classes at Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music have introduced numerous students from all walks of life to the magic of harmonica music. His groundbreaking work in the field of harmonica customizing has led to a wave of imitators and his legendary custom instruments, used by numerous top players, have played an important role in the emergence of modern harmonica styles. Joe has released 3 CDs with Eric Noden and the duo performs frequently live, touring internationally and appearing at clubs, concerts and festivals.
David Barrett is the most published author of harmonica instructional literature in the USA and was dubbed „the world‘s best harmonica teacher“ by no less than Joe Filisko. For 20 years, his Harmonica Masterclass events have set standards in blues harmonica education. His systematic and entertaining presentation, combined with his technical mastery of all aspects of blues harmonica, make his classes an essential learning experience. His groundbreaking online school sets new standards in this area and is used by students worldwide. David recently published a study with Stanford University demonstrating vocal tract alterations when bending by means of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), which offers a great method of mastering the technique.
Ben Hewlett has been a full time professional harmonica teacher since 1996.
He has studied with Paul Lamb, Brendan Power, Howard Levy, Joe Filisko, and attended countless workshops with many other experts. He started in the blues, playing in many blues bands, and always returns to it, but loves to spice his music up by putting a little Celtic, World music and Jazz into the mix. He has studied teaching in London and Bristol and sees teaching as his main input to the world of music.
Encouraging people to play the harmonica at any age and in any style is his passion but he always ends up back home - playing the blues! Ben teaches privately at home and on skype, and in schools with his team at HarpsCool enabling 500 children to get a weekly harmonica lesson. Aside from that he has written 20 harmonica tuition books, with loads more in the pipeline. You can see them at HarmonicaWorld.net. He also has a harmonica mail order shop (SonnyboysMusicStore.co.uk) with his own brands of harmonicas, and he is the Chairman of the National Harmonica League. His most recent project is an on-line tuition video course called PlayHarmonica.co.uk as a direct result of the success of his youtube videos.
Eric Noden is an acoustic blues guitar player, recording artist and songwriter based out of Chicago, Illinois. Deeply rooted in the music of 20’s & 30’s blues pioneers, his percussive guitar work, timeless songwriting and well-traveled blues vocals have earned the respect of audiences, critics, and musicians worldwide. Originally from Ohio, Noden relocated to Chicago in 1994 where he quickly became a staple on the blues scene with his hard-driving solo performances, releasing several solo CDs and 3 albums with Joe Filisko. Recently Eric also produced and performed on Billy Boy Arnold's CD "Billy Boy Arnold Sings Big Bill Broonzy" (Electro-Fi) which was nominated for a 2012 Blues Music Award. Eric performs solo, with Joe Filisko and with the Sanctified Grumblers. He has taught regular guitar classes at the Harmonica Masters Workshops since 2010. Find more info on Eric at www.ericnoden.com and www.rootsduo.com
Riedel studied classical violin for 7 years before teaching himself harmonica and keyboards. At the age of 15 he was performing on stage with his first acoustic blues band. In the 1980s he became an important part of the sound of South German cult rock band Schwoißfuaß as harmonica player, keyboarder and arranger, before going on to win the blues diatonic contest at the World Harmonica Championships in Trossingen in 1989. As well as performing with Blues Delivery and other acoustic acts, he has brought his typical rhythmic rocking harmonica style into rock and pop.
In France, there is only one man able to rouse a stadium with a simple harmonica. An outstanding showman, Greg Zlap is not just a harmonica virtuoso. He sings, writes, produces and performs his own music.
Greg Zlap was born in Warsaw, Poland. He arrived in Paris in the late 1980s with a harmonica in his pocket and went on to become one of the most creative players in Europe. Behind his leather jacket and piercing blue eyes hides a man who has lived and this is reflected in his music. In 2009 Greg Zlap played a historic concert with Johnny Hallyday at the Eiffel Tower in Paris in front of 1 million people. In 2012 this inspired publisher Glénat to release a graphic novel based on Greg Zlap's life, “Harmonijka”.
Greg Zlap has recorded over 6 solo albums, exploring different styles and extending the boundaries of his instrument. Thematically the albums show a wide and varying range of influences, taking in blues, jazz and even modern electro and pop sounds. “Road Movies” was dedicated to the blues in film music while his record “AIR” uses air driven instruments almost exclusively. In his latest record “Blue” (2017), Greg sings in French and combines blues influences with modern folk music.
The man who JJ Milteau affectionately refers to as his “spiritual son” has founded a successful harmonica school in Paris, written harmonica tuition books and run international workshops. As a session musician, he has played with legendary French artists such as Charles Aznavour, Francis Cabrel, and Johnny Hallyday. He has also performed as a spectacular diatonic harmonica soloist in the philharmonic orchestra of film music composer Vladimir Cosma, following in the footsteps of Toots Thielemans.