The White Rock Blues Society

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Harmonica King Blows in -in Concert

Folks such as Neil Young and Bob Dylan do little for the harmonica's reputation.

So says Canadian harmonica king Carlos del Junco, who performs with his Blues Mongrels band at Crescent Beach Legion next Thursday, March 10.

His opinion is worth considering, as del Junco once scored two gold medals at the Hohner world harmonica championship in Germany and has been voted top harmonica player seven times at Canada's Maple Blues Awards.

Speaking from his home in Port Hope, Ont., del Junco said Young and Dylan -- while unquestionably brilliant overall -- are "very mediocre" harmonica players.

"They almost give it a bad name, in my opinion."

He has become an outspoken advocate for his instrument of choice.

He plays diatonic harmonica, the pocket-sized instrument also known in North America as the blues harp, which, when properly played, is a delight.

What frustrates del Junco is that most audiences hear them played poorly, whether it be a superstar or the wannabe at a neighbourhood blues jam.

The diatonic harmonica is inherently limited as it's designed to reach a restricted number of notes.

However, experts such as del Junco can note-bend and over-blow with jaw-dropping precision, so any pitch is reachable. In such hands, the possibilities are almost limitless, and certainly not restricted to the blues.

Havana-born del Junco plays an unusually wide array of styles, including Latin, swing, surf, ska, hip-hop, rock, pop and New Orleans-style jazz.

"In my heart of hearts, I'm a blues guy that likes to traipse off into different directions," he said.

Mongrel Mash is the title of del Junco's latest CD, which has him on a tour of B.C. and Alberta venues this month.

In South Surrey, his March 10 concert is staged by White Rock Blues Society.

"I saw Carlos twice in Memphis and he literally stuns his audience with what he can do with the harp," raved Rod Dranfield, a director of the society.

For show info, call 604-542-6515 or click on www.whiterockblues.com.