For those of you who have not heard of Jason Ricci, where have you been?
INTERVIEW BY BUDDY PAUL
Wikipedia: Jason Ricci (born February 3, 1974) is an American harmonica player and singer. In addition to his solo albums, Ricci has appeared as a guest harmonica player on albums with Johnny Winter, Nick Curran, Ana Popovic, Walter Trout, Cedric Burnside, The Mannish Boys and Joe Louis Walker among others. Ricci was named "Best Harmonica Player" at the 2010 Blues Music Awards, and has won a Grammy Award for his contribution to the 2014 Johnny Winter album Step Back. In February 2015, Ricci began a national tour with a new band named Jason Ricci and the Bad Kind.
I've been a fan for a long time and I have had the pleasure of talking to Jason online. We have been laughing, swapping cat pictures, SK8 stories (skateboard stories) and receiving advice on all sorts of harmonica related topics and more.
We have a few things in common like both of us are ex punks and musicians and basically we are both loving the he'll outta all we do!
Ladies and Gentleman, it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to you Mr. Jason Ricci.
AT LAST, Hi Jason and thanks for agreeing to this interview for us at Costa Blanca Blues Webzine.
Before I start, I'd like to say a Big, Big Thank you for all that you've done to promote the blues and especially all the free lessons you have put on YouTube. You have helped thousands of us improve our game, so thanks again man.
Thanks for the interview Paul. It’s great to talk to someone who knows so much about me already so thanks for picking me!
You are a Blues harp player and also a music teacher and full time musician, quit a busy boy!
I was wondering where you found the love for playing harp and who were your first influences?
There's always a certain song or style that grabs you by the balls and says, ‘Wow Man, I gotta get me some o that”; what was yours?
Yeah man, that first song was Big Walter Horton's version of "Trouble in Mind".
The band that I was in when I was 14 or 15 suggested I play harp and I toyed with it awhile until I heard that tune then started to get kinda serious. My Mom is a Blues Fan so she took me to see Cotton and a lot of other guys. There was also a few great players around where I lived so that was pretty much it.
From your early days of playing, I noticed you were quite punky orientated with a bluesy feel always. I have several of your CDS and I love the way you've grown with a never ending change of styles.
There's one track that pulls my soul to bits every time I hear it and your solos. ohhh Yeh, “ The Way I Hurt Myself”, among others.
Could you give me an insight to where this came from?
Another song is, “Broken Toy”. That is really Deep Stuff. Haha… Cool as Fu#*.
What inspired these songs?
|Over the years, the many transformation with Jason Ricci|
Thanks Paul, I’m glad you feel those tunes.
"The Way I Hurt Myself” - You know the line is, "If anyone had ever hurt me, the way I hurt myself, they be buried underground, beyond the good lords help".
I got that line almost word for word from a few different 12 step meetings. It's not a common thing that people say but you hear it about once a year from different people. It was definitely true for me. I have done some real dumb stuff to a lot of good people who didn't deserve it and a few that probably did. I've been relentless in self-destruction so I made it into a tune.
I suppose I should start sending royalties (If I ever get any) to those 12 step groups.
The Way I Hurt Myself - WATCH VIDEO
"Broken Toy" was written in about four or five minutes while driving. It just bled out. I think it's pretty clear (maybe too clear) what it's all about. That song is most people’s favorite.
Broken Toy - WATCH VIDEO
As I said, I’ve been following your styles along the way from cool Blues to Toots Thielemans style chromatic; the whole shebang.
For harmonica players everywhere, what's the most important thing to help you get on? I know, I know scales and practice but I think you need a little something extra. What rocked your world and helped you find your way?
Man, I don't know. I'm pretty competitive as are most of the great players that I meet. I'm not that much anymore in my old age but there’s still a fire in my belly not so much with other players but a bit with the industry I guess.
Really it’s just is a real Love of music and listening, scales, practice, studying harmony, etc…I think just listening to music, listening to new music that is not that familiar to you especially is really underrated.
And you have a new love in your life, so a big congrats to Mr. Mooncat on your engagement to your lady fair and I hope you will be as happy as can be - forever. And don't lose any more cats under the house.lol.
I loved your concert long ago with the Walter Trout Band. It was full on Rockin Blues with such a varied style of playing.
Jason Ricci and Walter Trout Paradiso Amsterdam 2008 - WATCH VIDEO
You have had the great fortune to play with so many artists and rightly so. Have you have landed in any favorite zone, like; I mean do you have a favorite style or still love it all?
Would you tell us of a concert that still brings a shiver down ya back bone? Perhaps, a gig that sets you alight even to this day?
....I'm sure there must be quite a few ..lol…
Thanks bro that's Kaitlin Dibble and yeah were engaged. She's amazing. Most people will be surprised to hear that I am engaged to a woman since I've almost exclusively dated men. I never thought I'd fall in love with a woman again!
I met this woman in New Orleans and she opened that door up again, I guess? Kate's just really funny, super talented song writer and vocalist and a joy to be around. She's a great singer too and she will be doing some dates with me in Europe next month (November 2015).
Yeah man, that tour with Walter was right up there. Playing on Johnny Winter's record was obviously serious shit. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gig with Tom Morello, Zac Brown and the Paul Shaffer band was nuts.
This thing I'm doing now called "Harmonicon" with Sugar Blue and Billy Branch that’s some dream I never even dared to have come true type shit!
My favorite zone is just playing with my band The Bad Kind with Sammy Hotchkiss (Guitar) John Lisi (Guitar) Adam Baumol (Drums) and Any Kurz (Bass). Those guys are the most fun to play with especially all together.
I like that New Orleans funk influence and attitude more than anything else these days. Our appearance at the Wheeling West Virginia Blues Festival, which is on YouTube thanks to the Blues Broad, is a good representative of this band on a pretty good night. Those guys are rad!
Heritage Music BluesFest 2015
The impossible question, who is your favorite harp player...ha ha - yeah u know I know, impossible as all so varied so don't worry. lol
But your early influences, I would love to know? I say nothing, I rethink most of us come up the same way, but enlighten us Jason if you could….
It's not that impossible… Pat Ramsey is obviously my # 1 guy forever and will always be. I miss him so much and I'm blessed to still have a lot of his people in my life like his son Clyde. We try to stay pretty close.
|Lil Ed, Jason Ricci, Michael Burks|
Then you know there’s Little Walter too.
Now this is the one. What's the scariest pipe, pool, park you've ever skated?
I dropped into a 30 foot half pipe with 8ft foot vert. What a rush! Lol. The wipe out hurt like hell, now that’s for sure!
Are you still skateboarding? And did you slide downhill? What a rush... my favourite now being a speed freak… lol
Not many people can say they dropped in on 8 feet of vert!!!! I WANT THE VIDEO PAUL!!!!
I still skate but not as much. I have a bum wrist that breaks really easy these days (four times) so that sucks, but I keep up with the industry constantly. I watch every video that comes out every week, buy the magazines and still talk every now and then to a few of my Pro Skater friends.
The scariest places I ever skated?
Burnside was intense because it's not as smooth as it looks in the videos. It's pretty bumpy and it was really cold the few times I rode it too. I took a hipper there in 1991 that I still feel some mornings.
The Full Pipe in Louisville took my breath away the few times I got near vert. I rode a Vert ramp in Sequoia with Sluggo and Neal Hendrix. I did a backside disaster, a 50-50 but I think the damn fake rock was the scariest thing ever.
I went to Cedar Crest in Virginia when I was a kid. My Mom took me. It was closed. I was glad as that thing was nuts. The pool coping stuck out like three inches. It was very scary and I was glad it had a chain across it.
I've always been into Mini ramps, smaller tight tranny pools, ditches, banks, banks to wall, stuff like that. Never got into the Downhill thing but my buddy Randy Sandoval is a real serious Downhill/slalom guy who still rides gnarly hills to this day. He started back in the day. He's also a harp player, customizer and old school punk and anarchist from way back. He's the dude that invented the Corian harmonica comb. He's totally crazy and we get a long great. I wish I lived next door to that guy. We’re too much alike. He's totally crazy like me. He's got the weird helmets and all that aerodynamic shit! That guys great.
Along the way you have endorsed many harmonica companies. I suppose hard to say but what is a favorite? I was also wondering for out the box and longevity tone and stuff, do the custom harps, like your friend Deal Harp or Joe Spies, have a massive difference?
|Jason Ricci at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame|
Induction of Paul Butterfield
I've actually only been with Hohner, then left to play custom Joe Spiers harps that were kinda like Hohners.
Now, I play Suzuki Manji's and custom Suzuki Manji's by Joe as well. He's the best maker and a lot of people know now. I'm proud to say I was his second customer, I think? I believe that Suzuki is making the best harps hand down these days.
Also, I would like to give a shout out to my other endorsers: Lone Wolf Blues Company (Pedals), Greg Heumann (mics, wireless, gizmos, etc), Blue Moon Harmonicas (combs and covers), Brian Purdy at Harp Gear Amplification for the greatest amp ever the HG 50.
Have you any plans for a European tour, especially in Spain? Cos that's where I am. lol. We in Valencia would love to have you here. You can crash at mine whenever you want. Awesome!! There's a cool scene here now with a lot of good blues players. OK, the money sucks but the scene is good..lol.
Also how was your last tour? And did ya get your van fixed?
Thanks Paul. The van is fixed AGAIN! I'll get you a harp soon. I was supposed to be in Spain earlier this year but the promoter just stopped writing us back after the whole thing was booked. We had to cancel the tickets and everything. We never heard a word again?
I'll be in the Netherlands next month check my site www.mooncat.org for more details. I'm on the road a lot these days and make sure to spend a lot of time home too. Teaching is great for staying at home because now I can afford to do that! Everything’s really amazing right now!
Thanks Bro! -Jason
Jason, it's been a pleasure. I can't thank you enough for taking the time to chat with me man. And don't forget that I’m still after one of your harps if ever you get the time.
Take care Jason
Big Big love to you and yours in all and everything you do.