Teacher and Musician – All in One
Blue Barry has been playing harmonica for more than 40 years and guitar for nearly as long. He has also played a 5-string banjo since 1975. He has been a Lee Oskar endorsee since 1995. He says, “It is an honor to play these fine instruments, and getting to know Lee and Leslie Oskar has certainly made my life better. They are fine people, and their harmonicas are the best.”
Blue played with a 3-piece acoustic blues band called the “Delta Souls” based in Knoxville, Tennessee. “We played acoustic blues from the 20’s and 30’s, adding in our own original pieces. We used acoustic guitar, harp, slide, and mandolin for a really funky old-time trip back to the roots of the blues. We try our best to play a minimum of music with a maximum of heart and soul in the styles of Blind Blake, James Cotton, Big Bill Bronzy, Robert Johnson, and of course, ourselves. We try to play the least we can to make the songs sound their best, as we thought they must have sounded when they were played for the first time.”
Blue also performed with the “Blues Blasters,” who played in the styles of Elmore James, Johnny Winter, Muddy Waters, all the way to Miles Davis, and Jimi Hendrix. “We are a 4-piece, full blown electric good time blues band playing local, road gigs, and opening for larger, nationally known groups, such as the Robert Cray Band when they last played in Knoxville.”
Blue can be found playing in East Tennessee. Many of Blue’s students will drop in to jam with the “Terraplane Drifters” from time to time, much to the surprise and delight of the local patrons.
Blue gives private lessons on harmonica, finger picking guitar, and slide at his home. He has taught beginner or intermediate harmonica classes at three local colleges over the past 15 years; the University of Tennessee, Pellissippi State Community Technical College, and Maryville College. In the Spring of 1999 he added a beginner blues harmonica class through the Knox County Parks and Recreation Department through the City of Knoxville. In 1997, Blue started the Blues in the Schools (BITS) program in Knoxville, through the Knoxville Blues Society.
Here’s the equipment I use
“As most musicians know your equipment depends on the specific venue you are playing. I have two rigs I use. My “big rig,” and my “acoustic rig.” So here they are: BIG RIG; Peavey Classic 50 amp with 4X10 in l cabinet, 1X15 in the other cabinet, Lee Oskar harps in diatonic, natural minors, and melody makers, a DOD digital delay pedal, and a green bullet microphone with volume control. When I crank this monster up I can bring Godzilla up out of Tokyo Bay…from Knoxvegas.”
“For acoustic style, I use a Crate VC 508 Amp, DOD digital delay pedal, Lee Oskar harps again in diatonic, natural minor, and melody maker. I use a Honker microphone with volume control and “trash box” built in. This is a very personal and delicate set-up and I love it. ‘Blues envy’ occurs when I wail a slow blues through this outfit!”