Today I had the great pleasure of discovering one of the most inspiring and talented harp players I’ve come across yet. He went by the name of Bad News Brown. A rapper and harmonica player, Bad News Brown would freestyle over hip hop beats with the skills of a technician and the rhythmic phrasing of a spoken word lyricist. He was an aficionado of the harmonic minor harp and really showcases what can happen when a poet grabs hold of that sweet, sweet tuning. I found a video of him in a sweet onstage jam session with Lee Oskar. Just plain brilliant music. Check this video out and then keep on reading for more:
Back in 2004, Bad News Brown was the host of a documentary film called Music for a Blue Train, in which he introduces us to the world of Montreal Subway buskers, primarily by walking around and playing the harmonica. It’s a great way to spend 25 minutes, I guarantee. The film is an interesting look at a player whose music seems to be inspired by more contemporary urban music and less by the classic blues and rock harp players are so apt to come from. I loved his songs I was finding on YouTube, but after watching this video, I really became enraptured by the man, himself.
Unfortunately, however, this day of joyous discoveries had a sad ending. As I delved deeper into this harmonic bard, I learned that Bad News Brown was found murdered in the streets of Montreal in February of last year. He made such wonderful music in his short time on this Earth and for every video you find of him playing, I bet you he played hundreds of hours on the streets and in the subways of Montreal.
God bless the music makers…