Chromatically Chromonica Chronologically

16th August, 2019

Hi Riff Raffers,

A new, very old harp housed in its original box now resides in my humble collection. Mark Weber has meticulously investigated and reviewed technical aspects of the harp at chromhistory.

What follows is an account of my pursuance from world experts on how, when and where this Hohner harp, ‘The Up To Date Chromatically Tuned’ fits into chromatic history. Remember if you know what and how, you should known when and where. First cab off the rank of course was harmonica guru, Pat Missin.

Hi Shep.

I have never seen “Up To Date” on a chromatic, nor have I ever seen a Hohner chromatic that looks anything like that, nor does it resemble, as far as I can tell from the photos, any of the Hohner patents for chromatic harmonica. I have no idea where this fits into the chronology of the instrument. — Pat.

Pat in a follow up email had this interesting titbit.

The whole history of the Hohner chromatic is really weird. The 260 first appeared in Hohner catalogues and the music press around 1911. Then it vanished for more than a decade and finally pops up in catalogues around 1923, with the music trade publications describing it as a new instrument. Then a few years later still, the patent for it gets published. It’s all very odd.

So where this one fits into it all, I have no idea. It could be a prototype that somehow escaped. That has happened – I have a 14-hole Super Chromonica that was never officially produced. It could also be a short-lived design that somehow never made it into their catalogs and escaped the attention of the music trade mags. Perhaps it was unsuccessful and Hohner tried to pretend it never existed. At this point, I honestly have no idea.

Have you run this one by John Whiteman? — Pat.

No I hadn’t, so I ran this by John.

Hi Shep,

It is well documented that the 260 10-hole chromatic made its commercial debut in 1911.  The chromatic that you have is clearly earlier than that. Here is how I date it at approximately 1901:

1) The label indicates 3,000,000 harmonicas produced per annum and 1,000 workmen.  This dates it to approximately 1900. 

2) There is a star in the trademark.  I believe it was added in 1901.  That would date it to 1901 or later, but the 3,000,000/annum holds it back at 1901

3) The slide handle and spring are of a less mature design than the 260 that appeared in 1911.

4) “Up to Date” in the name meant nothing and was evidently put there because they had nothing better to say, yet they failed to suffix it with “harmonica”.

5) “Patented in All Countries” couldn’t be true, so they put it out in limited numbers with a CYA statement about patent, and probably about registration.

I suggest sending the photos to Martin Haffner at the harmonica museum in Trossingen.  I saw nothing like this in that Hohner Museum. Thanks for sharing the photos and history of your purchase. John

I took on John’s suggestion and contacted the museum, however a response would take several attempts and efforts of people working behind the scenes for it to come to fruition. Then blow me down, Pat had this fantastic discovery.

Looks like my gut feeling on the date was wrong. Attached is a page from Music Trade Review, September 1898. I missed this the first time I searched. I’m not finding any later references to it in MTR. — Pat.

When thanked and questioned on how he had acquired this gem, Pat replied.

Happy to help. I’m pleased I gave it another shot – this time I just searched for “chromatically tuned” and that turned it up.

Up until you found this one, the standard chromatic history was that there were several prototypes in the late 1800s, then Hohner advertised the 260 around 1910 (describing it as “the first and only practical one”), but then it vanished for more than a decade. It suddenly popped back up in the early 20s, with Hohner promoting it as though it were brand new. Even weirder, the patents for it didn’t get published until several years later and I’ve never seen any reference to the chromatic “Up To Date” in any Hohner publications, or elsewhere, except for that MTR article. It’s all very strange.

I have a pretty complete collection of German harmonica patents and I’ve never seen a Hohner patent that resembles the chromatic UtD. It’s possible that they may have registered a DRGM for it, but that’s not as easy to dig up. However, I agree with John that “patented in all countries” is some creative BS.

Anyway, here is some background that might be interesting:

Finally, after a little behind the scenes prompting, Martin Haffner (to be fair he had been away) from the harmonica museum replied.

Dear Shep

In short: Your find is spectacular! We do have many different Up to date harmonicas in our collection, but no “chromatically tuned”.

And just now I had a look inside the catalogues, printed for the American / English market in the early 1900s (around 1902/1903). Your model is not mentioned at all.

I’ve got a mail by Roger Trobridge England with an attachment of the Musical Trade Review, Sept. 1898. There is the “Up to date chromatically tuned” mentioned as a new Hohner product. Since the fan community is not so big, you must have got this source meanwhile.

My theory: In fact the model was produced in 1898 (perhaps still 1899), but it must have been a commercial flop. Probably the mechanism didn’t work.(?) As far as I know, our archive has no single document telling anything about this rare model.

The “Up to date chromatically tuned” was an early try. And there was a break of minimum ten years, until the later well known Hohner “Chromonica” was mentioned the first time.

Please send me your report / keep me up to date!!!

Best regards

Martin Häffner


During this chromatic journey I became intrigued into the tuning of all these harps and wondered when and where ‘solo’ tuning came into existence. I probed Pat’s endless knowledge once again. Remembering that if we knew why and who, that would tell us when and where.

“Richter Tuning” is a relatively new term. I’m not certain, but it seems to have originated in the 1980s. The original term was “Richter System” and it referred to one of the various types of harmonica construction:

Using the name Richter to denote the tuning is a little iffy, as other types of construction (Knittlinger and Viennese in particular) use a similar note layout. However, there is no denying that the term “Richter Tuning” is in common usage. It gets a little messy with the typical chromatic harmonica being technically a Knittlinger System construction (they are basically made like Concert harp, with the addition of the mouthpiece and slide assembly), so referring to them as “Richter Tuned” is a little awkward, although most people would know what you meant.

The 260 is the catalogue number for what was originally termed the Chromatic Harmonica and later the Chromonica, changing to the latter sometime in 1924. It has been made in several different tunings over the years. Initially, it was tuned like a standard 10-hole diatonic in C, with the button changing it to a C sharp scale. This was later referred to by Hohner as “Regular Tuning”, but most people now call it a Richter tuned chromatic.

By the 1930s, it was also available in Solo Tuning. However, that was different to how a 10-hole Solo chromatic would be set up now. Hole 4 and upwards were tuned like the Regular Tuning. 1, 2 and 3 blow were tuned E, G and C, the draw notes tuned F, A and B, with the slide raising each by a semitone.

Then some time later, the Solo Tuned 260 was changed so that it was like a standard 12-hole Solo Tuned chromatic, but missing the top two holes. Not sure when that happened – maybe after WWII?




The slide spring was changed from external to an internal one in the late 1920s around the same time the Super Chromonica was produced. The Super was originally designated 260 1/2 and later changed to 270. It has always been in Solo Tuning, available in a variety of keys.

Solo tuning predates the Chromonica by some time and was originally intended for use on diatonics:

Older chromatic players recall the change to Solo Tuning back in the day, but apparently at that time it was called Haussler Tuning, after William Haussler who worked for Hohner US and was apparently responsible for a lot of harmonica development and promotion:

For thoroughness, the two patents I’ve been able to locate for the Hohner Chromonica are (click on diagram):



On the latter page I say: “The Chromonica 260 had been available for almost two decades when this patent was granted”. That probably needs to be amended. As far as I can make out, they announced the 260 in 1910/1911, but it doesn’t appear to have actually been available until later. It reappears in 1923 and is touted as being a new instrument. The following year it was recorded for the first time:

Which brings me back to the Up To Date. I have been unable to find any other references to the UTD Chromatically Tuned, aside from that MTR article. If it weren’t for you actually owning one, I would have dismissed it as vapourware. There have certainly been numerous instances of Hohner announcing a new instrument that never actually materialised. My wife had an idea about this. She worked in product development for a couple of large companies and often they would send out trade samples of items. These were small production runs that were past the prototype stage and in their final (or near final) packaging, sent out to various dealers to test the market. Sometimes the feedback they got from them lead to changes in the product or packaging, sometimes it lead to the item being killed before going into full production. It’s possible that’s what happened with the UTD Chromatically Tuned and might explain why there are so few records of its existence. — Pat.

I had better throw in the 64 Chromonica into the chronology, which was available down under in 1936.

1936-Hohner 64 Chromonica

While we’re at it lets quickly have a gander where a couple of Aussie Chromatics fit within the chronology.

1936-Albert’s Boomerang Chromorgan made by Seydel (Picture courtesy of John Whiteman)


1937-Allan’s Crackamonic made by F A Rauner (photo’s courtesy of Doug Dawson)

A few closing, late additions relating to Klingenthal companies still having the external spring long after Hohner’s internal design and the use of standard tuning on Chromatics. Over to you Pat.

It seems reasonable to assume that the chromatics in Regular Tuning were intended for use with vamped chords in the lower octave. There is also the factor that it meant that someone experienced on a standard diatonic would be able to pick up the new fangled chromatic, without having to learn a new tuning. I suspect that was a factor too.

Also, there was a tuning variant for the 260 I forgot to mention-Alto Tuning. This was the same layout as the older Solo Tuning (ie the one with just the lowest three holes changed), but one whole octave lower in pitch.

It does seem like the Klingenthal companies lagged a little with chromatic design. It’s also possible that Hohner were aggressively defending their German patent from 1930. Currently a German patent has a term of 20 years. It used to be 15 years, but I’m not sure when it was extended. WWII may also have affected things. — Pat.

Further to Pat’s earlier mention that the 260 was not sold until over a decade after it was first announced, a Nicholson & Co advertisement in The Sydney Daily Telegraph (12th December, 1913) for Hohner’s celebrated Chromatic (selling for 7/6) would perhaps suggest otherwise, although this is the only evidence I could find of its sale before the 1920’s.

Pat responded.

As for the Nicholson’s ad, that is the earliest evidence of them being offered for sale that I’ve heard of. I had more or less come to the conclusion that they were advertised in 1910, but never actually sold until more than a decade later. That said, is it possible that Nicholson’s were advertising them without actually having any in stock? – – Pat

My immediate thought was that ‘The Great War’ may have impacted production and sales of the Hohner Chromatic.

Cheers and Guinness frothies to all participants, in particular to Pat Missin (& wife) whose efforts went way beyond the call of duty, John Whiteman, Martin Haffner & Mark Weber. In finishing, how and when didn’t tell us what and where, but it was who and what that told us when and where. Ch SD


Hotel Metropole

July 19, 2019

Hi Raffers,

A quick look at an Australian harmonica box owned by Canadian harmonica collector, Doug Dawson, a couple of record reviews and a link to an article written by Mark Weber about a new addition to my harp collection, which is rewriting Chromatic history, Hohner’s very first Chromatic, the Up-To-Date model from 1898! Just six letters Gollygeewowee!

Recently Doug Dawson contacted me about the article on the ‘Cobber’ tin. He kindly sent photos of other Australian harps from his extensive collection, including this box (no harp), ‘The Metropole’. With a little research and the assistance of Pat Missin on the possible identification of the maker I concluded more than likely it was a product of the Hotel Metropole in Sydney. The Hotel was advertised in 1929 as the largest and most modern in Australia.

With a peek inside the box the CHA logo and made in Saxony indicated to Pat that it was probably manufactured by C A Herold. Not a lot is known of C A Herold (Carl Anton) who operated from about 1919 to 1939.

The Hotel Metropole was built by the Australian Coffee Palace Company for £150,000 in 1890. The grand building fronted Young, Bent and Phillip streets. You were greeted at the foyer with amazing stained glass windows and mosaic tiled floors. Fitted with electric lighting and lavish furnishings there were 260 guest rooms, several dining rooms and probably a gift shop selling ‘The Metropole’ mouth organs. The roof top promenade had exquisite panoramic views of Sydney town and the heads. Prominent International visitors who registered at the hotel included Rudyard Kipling and Jack London. Sadly in 1969 the hotel was closed and demolished.

Interestingly another, perhaps hotel harp appeared on the author’s horizon, The Grosvenor Harp made by Seydel. Several hotels by this name existed in Australia with Adelaide’s having some notoriety. It’s difficult to date, although some of the World collectors suggest circa 1920.

Belmar records in Altona have a fabulous new sessions release by Mon Shelford. Mon was discovered busking on Sydney road by a Belmar house musician. Here was my review. How about this for a first up effort? Mon Shelford’s debut album is hotter than a fire cracker. Her vocals resonate in every fibre of your being. A mix of well crafted originals and uniquely arranged classics. For you Riff Raffers a wee bit of harp by Rob Price on the melodic ‘Walking On Eggshells’. Out now at Belmar-Records.bandcamp.

Canberra dynamic duo The Barren Spinsters have their new album ‘Ten Steps To Cynical Thinking’ pressed and on sale today. Eleven (I think Milkman’s Stomp qualifies) original hits book ended by tunes with the Blues Burger (Punching Above Your Weight-a newbie sitting near the middle has as well) and impressively packaged with fine artwork by Ruth Palmer, who is best known for her Enid Blyton illustrations. Do yourself a flavour and give your three speed gears an aural pleasure!

As mentioned earlier the recent addition to my harp collection has the chromatic harmonica world in a spin. My article isn’t far away, but chromatic historian Mark Weber has just published a fine analysis of this rare and in the main unheard of 1898 Hohner chromatic harmonica. Check it out here Up-To-Date. A few updates to Aussie Models timeline which includes The Melba, Topnotcher, Monarch, Wallaroo and Jazz Master.

A comeback of sorts to radio last week with a once a month (second Tuesday) Huff ‘n’ Puff segment 8:00am-9:00am (AEST) on Peej’s The Imaginary Friends Show.

Hear live off the mast here in the Dandenongs on 97.1 fm, stream anywhere on the planet at or even listen into the future via the archive (about 2 hours in). Next Huff ‘n’ Puff 13/8/2019 (no show in September Peej heads to the Old Dart). Hear here 3MDR.

A new post on Soundcloud spotlighting the harp of the late Paul Langford Lever (next month’s feature article) fronting the progressive rock band Chetarca in 1975. An early pioneer of the blues harp down under. Don’t forget first of the month is another Now for Something Completely Different #8.



19th June, 2019

Hello Raffers,

Here we go again a track back (or is that a back track) to the Crackajack. Further evidence the manufacturer was F A Rauner. Just a spelling difference for the Straylian market, perhaps. Registered number 28285 appears in a magnificently presented PDF file entitled, ‘A Collection Of Early Box Art 1890-1940’ by John Whiteman. A coffee table book is in the making, but there won’t be attached foldaway legs for a coffee book that doubles as a coffee table (Kramer invention-Seinfeld episode). John is from San Diego California and is one of the biggest collectors in the world. He provides an invaluable online resource of his and other collector’s harmonicas. See here at Harp Anthology.

Having observed the #28285 an email was shot to world renowned harp historian Pat Missin who responded with a page from a 1915 Rauner catalogue displaying their Cracker Jack models and blow me down, would you believe it, with registration #28285. Here’s Pat’s take on the matter at hand, “This was a registered trademark for ‘Cracker Jack’ and not ‘Crackajack’. Unless the trademark specifically states that it covers both versions, I would be very skeptical of both variations holding up in court. Not that it really matters now, but usually trademarks are quite strictly interpreted so that variations have to be specified in the original claim. However, just looking over some of Rauner’s other trademarks, they seem to have played very loosely with this. For example they trademarked ‘Immer Lustig’ as DRWZ 60105, but I’ve seen other harps with ‘Always Happy’ and ‘Siempre Alegre’ on them, both claiming that same number. That seems like it would be stretching things more than a little, but I guess it’s only against the law if you get caught! Or maybe German trademark law was a little more forgiving then.”

Well there it is fellow harpologists further support that Allan’s honeycomb of harmony mouth organs was manufactured by F A Rauner. What do you reckon?


Thanks to both Pat Missin and John Whiteman for their wonderful online resources and their contribution to this article.

New music out now! On CD Baby! A high quality album of musicianship, great songwriting and a bit of harp from Toowoomba outfit, Brendan Leggatt Band. The album is titled ‘Daylight’ and the title track is hotter than a fire cracker. ‘Losin’ My Head’ and ‘Ghost In The Kitchen’ feature the humble harp blown by Brendan and there’s a cool cover of the ‘Greg Kihn Band’s tune ‘Breakup Song’. *****


img_3929Mat Black, an alternative country singer-songwriter from Melbourne town, has followed on from his excellent 2017 EP ‘One Man Ghost Town’ with a high quality single entitled ‘Diamond Mine’. The timbre in Mat’s voice immediately draws your attention to the lugubrious nature of the tune. A uniquely crafted song frames its mood and just for extra texture soulful mouth harp is added, blown by co-writer Lachlan Bryan. The single has us travelling in high expectation for the release of his debut album.

The single will be released June 29 with a Melbourne launch on the same day at 2:30pm at ‘The Old Bar’ Fitzroy.

img_3925Hey Barren Spinsters, you guys never fail to deliver! I’m blown away by your new single ‘Hey Ruth’, which has a nice return of the ‘Gob Iron’. Hey Punters gratify your Toby Jugs with a listen. Out Now on all good and bad streaming platforms. I look forward to the release of the long play.

Can be purchased right now on iTunes.


Also checkout Liam Gallagher’s new tune Shockwave very nice and harp!

Shack Up Inn

17th May, 2019

G’Day Raffers,

Music review time. Hot off the press!

I’m pleased to offer you access to a mighty fine blues tune written by Gary Young of Daddy Cool fame on one of his experiences in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Gary recorded this with good mate Steve Williams (ex Rock Doctors, John Farnham band), who provides the Blues Burger. I’ll let Steve explain the song’s origins, “Shack Up Inn is a 12 bar in A…. it really is in Clarksdale Mississippi and they had a piano in the corner….it was 4 o’clock in the afternoon and there was no one there so they let him have a plonk….Gary can play a convincing Jerry Lee in G and C and he knows hundreds of country and rock n roll songs….before long the ‘Just left work crowd’ wandered in and he had dozens of people buying him drinks for hours…”. Hear hereShack.

Brisbane Country Rock outfit, Good Will Remedy have just released their seven track EP ‘Witness Mark’. Living up to their name, this album like those before them doesn’t have a bad tune. Recorded live in the studio the vocals were over dubbed later which makes them really pop! AC/DC meets country on ‘Rock n Roll King’. No harp on the extended play, however Will Lebihan, vocalist and bass player told HRR that all the band play the Gob Iron-to some level of expertise. Hear/view their second singleJuanita.

Sydney bluesman Simon Kinny-Lewis has a live album ‘A Day In San Jose’ out now in all good and bad music stores. Several tracks feature the high gain-amped up harp of Andy Just. You may remember Andy from his association with Mark and Robben Ford from the Ford Blues Band. Nice to hear ‘Crossroads’ with harp.

img_2996King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have another album out in the market place, ‘Fishing For Fishies’. More harp than usual and boogie to boot. Ambrose Kenny-Smith channels his old man (Brod Smith) on the stand out tune This Thing.

In late breaking news I have obtained another Australian vintage (maybe antique) mouth organ for my ever expanding collection, ‘The Kangaroo’. An article is in the making. Further research has found support for F A Rauner as the manufacturer of the ‘Crackajack’ models and a newly discovered ‘Boy’s Crackajack’ mouth organ sold by ‘Allan’s’. Stay tuned.

A new NFSCD is not far away and a feature article on a Chicago family living in South Australia in the 1930’s.

All for now. Happy Riffin’.




Grizzlee Remedy

Thursday, April 18th 2018

Hey Riff Raffers,

A couple of reviews, an update, an ANZAC article and why not, an Easter story.

Couple of mighty fine tunes just released. ‘Grizzlee Train’, a blues rock based duo from the Central Coast Of NSW have ‘Shakin‘ an uptempo single with a nice hook and a sing-a-long chant, ‘Hey Ho’. “I’m shakin’ and I don’t know why”. Josh Dufficy, drummer and harmonica player, blows a John Fogerty sounding riff a minute and a half into the tune.

Queensland country rock outfit ‘Good Will Remedy’ an emerging force in the Australian music scene have an extended play for release on May 10. A follow up to the 2018 album ‘Silver Lined’ which has a wee bit of harp on the popular track ‘My Angel’. No gob iron on the first single ‘Caroline‘ taken from the ‘EP’, but it’s a grand rockin’ ditty that espouses their song writing talents. “Am I wastin’ my time on sweet talkin’ wine.” A second single ‘Juanita’ is out tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow when Christians honour the sacrifice Jesus made for mankind-here’s a verse from Psalm 71 that supports George ‘Harmonica’ Smith’s claim the harmonica is one of the earliest instruments.

22 I will indeed praise you with the harp; I will praise your faithfulness my God. On my harp I will play hymns to you, the Holy One of Israel. (Good News Bible)

When George was admonished for his claim with this wasn’t a harmonica, but a stringed instrument, his blunt reply was, “Don’t believe that shit.”

Also with ANZAC day almost upon us here’s an item from the archive outlining how the mouth organ defeated the Germans in WWII.

img_2500(The Argus, 26th January 1946)


PS: There is an update to the Gene Jimae story-a couple of new quotes. NFSCD #4 is not far away and too the feature article for May, which will help your vamping. Keep your ears on Soundcloud for a gun Aussie Rock harpist. Off to the studio to lay a harp riff for a local performer-more news to come.

Umina Blue-Jack’s Back

23rd February, 2019

Hey there Riff Raffers,

New music out now at all good and bad record stores. Firstly an album from riff raffer, Jack Derwin. The lead single and title track ‘Umina Blue’ is a high quality tune that displays Jack’s signature laid back, soulful groove and his masterful skills as a songwriter and musician. There wouldn’t be a winters night by the open fire with a single malt in hand that Jack Derwin music wouldn’t complete the trifecta. Umina is a seaside town on the central coast of New South Wales and it’s aboriginal derivation means a place of rest or sleep. If you haven’t checked out Jack Derwin before, do so now. Here’s a video promotional link to the album ‘Umina’. Purchase at CD Baby .

Six piece country-folk outfit, ‘The Grasscutters’ debut release ‘First Cut’ is available on Bandcamp. Some tasty harp from John Wayne Melville. Check out their interpretation of Paul Kelly’s ‘Sydney From A 747’.

Good friends of HRR, Canberra duo, ‘The Barren Spinsters’ newest rocking single, ‘West Of Happiness’ reveals the lads are at the top of their game. Brendon and Matt are putting the final touches on their album as I write and Brendon assures me the tin sandwich will feature. Out on Bandcamp and there’s an interesting video as well.

A few more worthy of a listen is ‘The Black Sorrows’ twenty first album ‘Citizen John’. The single ‘Wednesday’s Child’ is a cracker. Brisbane’s ‘Dave Orr Band’ has their debut album, ‘As Soon As I Know’. Brian Cadd explores his Americana connection with the LP ‘Silver City’. Glenn Shorrock has a new take on ‘It’s A Long Way There’ from his forthcoming release and Kim Churchill has a newbie. Personally I hope he can find his way back to his original mojo. Nice enough tune though.

There’s a few new uploads I’ve put out as well. Mr. Eagle Rock, Ross Andrew Wilson’s nineties Rock outfit ‘Raw’ (with sticker) and the tune Mind F**k’ (language warning). On Soundcloud-Mike Rudd explains a harp technique he uses and as a follow up here’s Kim Churchill using it as well. Lastly there’s an update on a post here. An update on the ‘Up To Date’ harmonica thanks to Pat Missin once more. Here’s the link to the Dawg Blawg .


PS: Not many sleeps before NFSCD #3 is posted!

Matt’s Catalyst

3rd November, 2018

Hello Riff Raffers,

A new world opens to explore, when who you are is no longer forgotten.” (Matt Taylor)

Matt Taylor still has stories to share. His latest solo album is brush stroked with indigo pigment. The colour between blue and purple. Here’s what Matt says, When Ozblues ventures into new territory, I call the music Ozindigo. The blues is still there, but it’s ceased to be what most people would recognise as Blues. Ozindigo grew out of Ozblues just as Ozblues grew out of Mother Blues…….Some people say indigo doesn’t exist. That adds a bit of mystery. Maybe Ozindigo doesn’t either. That suits me fine.”

Matt excogitates on humankind and it’s values with ancient wisdom. The albums’ ‘rootsy’ but not so bluesy. There’s very little production, it’s pretty raw, but the essence is there with all the essential ingredients. Matt’s vocals are as strong and as good as ever. The harmonica pushes nicely to the vocals and several are intensely melodic. One such is the second tune, ‘Forgotten’. It is well structured with a lovely hook and a great harp riff. I’ve uploaded a ‘Harmonica Riff Hits & Bits’ featuring the tune hear here ‘Forgotten’. Get out your ‘D’ harp once more and blow along. The opening track is a cracker, ‘Red Hot Moon’ and ‘Southern Stars’ and ‘Different Kind’ all receive honourable mentions for their superb riffs.

Matt doesn’t do many gigs these days, he’s no Spring Hill chicken, (although he has one at the Caravan Club here in Melbourne on Saturday 1st December), so if your after more here it is, on CD, ‘Ozindigo Catalyst’. Not out now at any type of record store, it’s only available at Matt’s web store. Support the great man as he has given us so much. The Lord will come in ‘Judgement’ to see if we go up or down.

Cheers & Frothies SD

Break A Leg

12th October, 2018

Hi Riff Raffers,

It was the summer of ’63. The venue Flinders Street Extension outside the ‘Mission for Seaman’. A fifteen year old boy from Hampton was hitching to Torquay for some surfing. His lift to the city couldn’t take him any further and as he alights from the passenger side into the street he is impacted by a passing car. His injuries include a broken leg which would see him in hospital for six weeks. The boys name, Ross Andrew Wilson, Mr. Eagle Rock himself. Fortuitously this was the catalyst for Ross’ journey with the ‘Blues Burger’.

With his leg in traction Ross would listen to his ‘trannie’ (radio) by his hospital bed side. It was here that he heard Beatle John Lennon’s mouth harp on ‘Love Me Do’ and Brian Jones blowin’ on Rolling Stones tunes and this would inevitably lead to his attraction to the instrument that fits in your pocket.

img_0403Convalescing at home Ross asked his Dad if he could buy him a mouth organ instead of records. Mr. Wilson obliged and bought a Hohner Super Vamper from the Lewis Music Store in Russell Street for 2s 6d (25 cents). The store is still there today. Ross also had inspiration from a compilation record of ‘Excello’ artists which included Slim Harpo and Lazy Lester. He had a pretty good ear which enabled him to copy riffs. He finally returned to school in Term one of 1964 and in Ross’ words, By the time I got back to school I was actually blowin’ a few good notes”.

With the plaster removed it was time to apply his craft in a band and with the help from friend and neighbor Keith Glass (Com-Pact) this was achieved. Keith’s band, ‘The Rising Suns’ played at a local church and would allow Ross to sit on on a few numbers like ‘King Bee’ and play his harmonica, son. It would be here that a twelve year old guitar prodigy, Hanna (Ross Hannaford) became enamoured with this cool kid playing harmonica. Hanna had played with his band earlier in the night. He asked Ross to come to their next rehearsal and he dutifully obliged. By the end of the session Ross had replaced the lead singer. This band would eventually be the ‘Pink Finks’ who would then evolve into ‘Daddy Cool’ who would record Ross’, ‘Eagle Rock’.

img_0398Ross developed his harmonica style around his Dad’s jazz records. I’ll let him explain, Because I was brought up in a house where two things were happening. One was my Dad had lots of Jazz recordings and he would spend Saturday mornings working around the house listening to these records. So I heard plenty of improvisation. The improvisation idea was also there with guitar solos and saxophone solos on rock and pop songs. It was never a mystery to me to go and take a song and mess around. You don’t have to play it exactly.” Ross’ harmonica style progressed where he played a lot of chords rhythmically including split octaves, rather than single notes. He would play his own style, but borrow riffs from Lazy Lester and Howlin Wolf. On Howlin Wolf, Ross remarked, On nine out of ten solos he would play the same solo, but it always sounded fresh, it’s like a zen thing. It sounded simple, but very difficult to copy. So he had this thing of his own. That’s the key. Ross developed his chordal technique around Howlin Wolf’s.img_0405 Ross’ band Daddy Cool possessed three cracker originals all around this specific guitar ‘A’ chord riff where the little finger is extended to the fifth fret on the top E string, Eagle Rock, Come Back Again and Hi Honey Ho. However, the band originated primarily from their Doo Wop tunes that featured heavily in their sets. Songs like ‘Gee’ and ‘Cherry Pie’. On their ‘Lollipop’ extended play they covered Marvin and Johnny’s hit, ‘Flip’ with the harmonica right there in the foreground. The song was written by Cal Green, who was the original Johnny (Marvin didn’t think Marvin and Cal had much of a ring to it). There were a few other Johnny’s after Cal just to confuse the issue. On the Daddy Cool recording Ross steps in with the harp where Marvin Phillip’s tenor saxophone would have appeared on the original. Ross loved the tenor saxophone especially Lee Allan (Fats Domino) and Joe Houston (Big Joe Turner) he would mimic their lines on the harp. Ross stated, The tenor saxophone was my favourite instrument. I tried to play it, but it was too hard.

I have posted a live recording of Daddy Cool performing ‘Flip’ at the ‘Whiskey A Go Go’ in Los Angeles where they opened the bill for the Elvin Bishop Group back in August 1971.

A new Riff Hits & Bits is also up with Steve Cash once again playing the Tennessee Triller. Hear here

A CD arrived in the mail this week of some note from Altona recording label ‘Belmar Records’. The Pearly Shells, Melbourne’s best swing, jazz R & B band have a new album entitled, ‘Went Down Swingin”. Have to say track five, ‘Rubygil’s Bar And Grill’ written by Steve Purcell has a bit of a Daddy Cool flavour to it. Check it out here


PS: Check Out Ross talking about RAW.

Brod’s Time

5th October, 2018

Hello Riff Raffers,

Broderick Smith’s first album in ten years has hit the streets. Titled ‘Man Out Of Time’ the album is nice enough but doesn’t reach any great heights musically. Brod’s voice stands the test of time as does his lyrical storytelling. It is both thought provoking and insightful. There is nothing from his harp work of any great significance either. ‘Singer In Chains’, the pre released single is a standout as is the reworked acoustic version of Dom Turner’s, ‘Prayer Flags’. This tune appeared on the Backsliders 2014 album, ‘Dark Side’. ‘The Desert Blooms Again’ has some appeal.

Hear Brod’s version here Nice that he has recorded a Tom ‘Tabasco’ Rogerson tune on the album, ‘She Is Still Beautiful’. Sadly we lost Tom during the year so this is a fine tribute.

This is still a worthwhile album to have in any collection and particularly if you have it stocked with Dingoes and Brod’s other solo work .

Seasick Steve’s album, ‘Can U Cook’ has been out in the market place for a little while and blow me down there’s more tunes with Mickey Raphael mouth harp. I really like ‘Last Rodeo’ give it a listen here

A quick lesson for you riff raffers here of Matt Taylor’s Proof’.


Riding On

14th September, 2018

Hey there Riff Raffers,

Three new releases with the ‘Blues Burger’ as the feature. Out now!

Firstly by James Harmon on a Muddy Waters’ cover by Billy Gibbons, ‘Standing Around Cryingfrom his album ‘Big Bad Blues’ on Concorde records. On the album Billy let’s rip with a bit of harp as well.


BC694F7B-58DA-4E9E-9C40-FD51B1DD0FFAWe have Kiwi born, Melbourne residing Matt Joe Gow with ‘Ride On’ from his album, ‘ Break, Rattle & Roll’ due out at all good and bad record stores on the 5th October. Nice harp intro leading into a so, so start, but then it takes off. Give it a good listen.

Seasick Steve has another tune from his new album, ‘Can U Cook’, ‘Sun On My Face’ with Mickey Raphael blowing his distinguishable mouth harp. See earlier blog for another tune with Mickey and more information about the album.

Enjoy SD