1998… Internet is still in its early days and is not the mix of business/culture/pro-conspiracy/politics it became some years later.
At the time, one just begin to discover how wide the world can be on the web. Online chat groups, forums or distribution lists offer to aficionados a way to “meet” and share information about their mutual passion. Some websites appear, dedicated to various cultural topics.
At that time, I’m still young and already a harmonica freak. I start to learn how to play thanks to available textbooks by Jean-Jacques Milteau, Tony Glover and David Barrett. I play mainly blues in second position, start to rub up against third position. I don’t know what an overblow is, nor a minor third.
And then, thanks to the internet magic wand, I get in touch with a guy who tells me about overblows, eleventh position, Trio Globo, Carlos del Junco, Greg Zlap (Szlapczynski at the time :-)) and also about someone called Sébastien Charlier.
The guy is really interesting, he carries a vision. He thinks about putting together a webzine dedicated to harmonica, that could reflect both the tradition and the evolution of the instrument over time.
This project requires hard work and workforce, so the guy asks for help in order to rewrite a long interview of Jean-Jacques Milteau, the french king of harmonica. A very long and thankless duty, but the whole project is appealing. So I get on board.
A few months later, the very first issue of Planet Harmonica is released. A real landmark. Three more issues were published in the following years.
So, for a decade, Benoit Felten has made his mark in the web world of harmonica and deeply promoted this modest instrument and its masters.
And at the end of the 2000’s, he decided to reach toward new horizons. Since that time, harmonica world has kept on changing. Chromatic playing on a diatonic harmonica has eventually expanded widely. Overblows have been popularized. More and more harmonica rookies take it as any other instrument and learn harmony instead of positions. Numerous pro musicians release albums that really shift the lines and offer a new approach to the harmonica, totally different from the one we knew in the twentieth century. We are living such incredible times. So many new paths to explore !
It seemed it was time for us to reboot Planet Harmonica and to make it a witness of the ground covered and the future path to take together.
Under Benoit’s approving gaze, and thanks to Jérôme Peyrelevade’s encouragement and help, the webzine is now back to life !
For the occasion, interviewing Sébastien Charlier was a must. He answered our questions on his totally atypical approach in a very honest way, and we hope you will like it. We also interviewed Christophe Minier, the founder of one of the leading european harmonica festivals, occurring this year from may 24th to may 27th 2017. A very nice opportunity to see good artists playing live and to widely jam with other friendly harp players !
You will also find a rich and varied teaching section, thanks to our contributors Jérôme and Laurent Rinaldi.
In the gear corner, Marko Balland reveals the secrets of amplification.
Finally, you will find in this issue albums and instrument reviews, in order to help you find your way around numerous leading artists and the wide diatonic harmonica offer available on the market.
Well, we have put plenty of energy and heart in this issue.
We hope you will like it. Enjoy your reading !