Can you bend, turn a pitch, blow and then draw? I couldn’t either until I met Dave Mundy.
St. John’s is home to a really great harmonica player. A natural genius, Dave Mundy plays the harmonica the same as he breathes, effortlessly. Mystified by Dave’s performances and going through a 50 something mid-life crisis, it was something I had to do. Learn it.
Mastered by performers like Bob Dylan, Alan Wilson, Little Walter, John Popper, Sonny Boy Williamson and so many others, the Harmonica holds a really special place for us. It speaks to your mind, it reaches into your heart and then it goes deeper and steals your soul.
The harmonica is a little instrument with a mighty voice. It’s practical and affordable as far as musical instruments go. It can be played to sound like a mouth organ or a Mississippi saxophone. It can have a very clean, orchestral sound or a growly, slightly off-pitch (bent) sound. The harmonica is played with the breath and the tones of a harmonica are as unique as the individual playing it.
Dave Mundy is my harmonica teacher. Being completely hypnotized by his level of mastery with this instrument, I wanted to learn from a genius. It’s been an incredible experience so far. Blowing and drawing on the same note can seem like you are in two separate worlds yet you are on the same note. You can bend a note to a higher or lower pitch and make music that I’m sure only the whales can understand. In our lessons we learn about the blues minor scale and other times we just sit there in free flow, having fun doing the “Harmonica Boogie”.
Things are progressing. While I’m still a novice, I’m proud to say that I’m healing of my own heart writing songs with acoustic guitar and harmonica. It’s a trip!
Dave has a long history in the music scene, He says, “I studied orchestral percussion at Depauw University as a performance major. Then I moved to Athens, GA and drummed for rock, jam, jazz and pop bands. After 3 years of carrying my drum kit around downtown Athens and setting up in places so small that I was afraid the neck of the bass guitar would whack me in the head, I started playing the harmonica. It fits in my pocket and I found myself playing it anytime, anywhere. 20 years ago you would have heard me playing on porches, in my car, even in the line at the bank. Yep, I cared not.”
Dave’s performances focus on soul music. Music that resonates with his spirit and has healing intentions. Blues, folk, funk, R&B are all deep genres of expression and Dave finds his home mostly in the blues category. He explains, “Blues comes from a deep desire to want to feel better and make sense out of the pain and suffering we see around us. I relate to that.”
Dave says, “I use my ukulele and harmonica to write songs and I think this creates a different sound. I create a relatable sound that has room for expression. I rely on rhythm, dynamics and phrasing to express emotion. The end result is familiar to the ears and hopefully inviting. When we are participating in music our brain activity lights up like a Christmas tree. We are music. Our heartbeat, our breathing, our vocal inflexions are all an invitation to be musical.”
Dave is has established himself as a recognized original songwriter. With two CD’s in the world, he’s creating music that blows your mind. Seeing him in concert is liking walking into the House of Blues in New Orleans.
Dave says, “The new CD features 15 different St. John’s musicians. I called this album, A Delta Dawn, meaning Change is on the horizon. There’s an underlying acoustic delta blues tone to the record. I like to mix the selections to reset the ears and tell a story of the human experience. As a society, we are waking up to the unseen forces at play in our world. Music is one of these unseen forces that affect us in many ways.”
Acoustically, Dave plays with the phenomenal guitar player, Callum Latta. Sometimes he plays with John Clarke, who is an amazing slide guitar player. As a full band, he plays with Rock Harley on drums, Dave Hill on bass, and Callum Latta on electric guitar. He says, “I am so blessed to be able to work with these folks. Our sound is mature, tight and high energy.”
Dave has been playing at events like the Wreckhouse Jazz and Blues festival and in venues like The Black Sheep, The Fat Cat, The Ship, The Fifth Ticket and the Peter Easton Pub. Dave Mundy and his band, The Best Kind are an astounding compliment to the raw talent of the St. John’s music scene. We are so fortunate to have them among us.
If you haven’t seen Dave Mundy & The Best Kind yet, do it!
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