Planet Harmonica was born fifteen years ago, and our world was so different at the time. For a harmonica fanatic like me, it was not so easy to find advices, discover new artists or get information on US harmonica enthusiasts producing garage-made dedicated gear.

My mission statement for Planet Harmonica was to build a bridge between the french microcosm where many exciting things were happening (do you remember the first Eric Chafer gig at the Harmonicales festival in Condat ? Many people in the audience went really nuts that night…) and the english speaking harmonica world, where many unknown musicians were revolutionizing the blues (the late Paul deLay) or just the diatonic (Howard Levy, I’m looking at you).

Because it was a bilingual magazine, it could really create this bridge and showed the british and american creative abundance to french speaking readers, but also to show the Americans they were not alone. Nowadays, everything is easier : if you want to learn how to play, you can find hundreds of tutorials on Youtube, either in french or english. Artists from all over the world enjoy an unequalled exposure compared to the early years of the internet.

This diversity in contents partially led me to abandon Planet Harmonica in 2004, even if the two young children I had at home were also a good reason to do so. With the benefit of hindsight, there is probably something else : I’ve always loved music and, as time went by, harmonica became secondary to me.To say it short, the more I discovered new musical stuff, the less I liked harmonica for itself. There was always something thrilling when I could find a good track with a good harp player playing, but I was not specifically looking for harmonica, just for good music.

Planet Harmonica is now back to life. There is no better editor in chief than Laurent to drive this reboot : his passion and energy are still stunning. The former absolute beginner became a talented amateur harp player, boosted by the passion I used to have in the past. Is it still necessary to keep on building  a bridge between french and english worlds ? Surprisingly, I think so. Within only a few years, we went from a critical lack of information to a plethora, and so many information are available that it is now very difficult to sort out facts and fakes.

To me, the new Planet Harmonica is a very effective tool to bring some intelligence in it, on both sides of the Channel and the Atlantic ocean. Finding out the best artists, the best tutorials, the instruments that really make a difference. As far as I am concerned, I will only remain in the team as a contributor, and that is fine for me. If I can manage it, if passion for an artist comes back to me, no doubt I will share these findings with you. In the ultra connected harmonica mountain, there are many unexploited veins, unsuspected treasures, abandoned mines that we should probably rediscover. So I put my safety helmet on, picked up my diatonic pickaxe (my chromatic shovel is in the trolley). I am excited and happy to be part of this new team and I hope our paths will cross somewhere i the mine !

Benoit Felten