Fans of the harmonica will have plenty to choose from in the next couple weeks courtesy of the Slippery Noodle Inn (372 S. Meridian St.).
Chicago harp man Bill Lupkin and his Chicago Blues Coalition kick off the unofficial harmonica festival on Thursday, March 6. Lupkin cut his blues teeth jamming with Junior Wells and Jimmy Rogers. He’ll be bringing along piano great Barrelhouse Chuck, who studied the piano gospel according to Sunnyland Slim, Little Brother Montgomery and Pinetop Perkins, among others. Chicago guitar wiz Billy Flynn will also be a part of the fun.
March 7-8, the Noodle will open up two stages for harmonica players with distinctly different styles. On one stage, our very own Tad Robinson (joined by Paul Holdman) will offer his one-two punch of soulful vocals and Chicago-flavored harmonica. On the other stage will be West Coast swinger R.J. Mischo & His Red Hot Blues Band. Don’t be surprised if you see Mischo and Robinson face off in a harmonica throw down sometime during the weekend.
Also coming to Indianapolis is Sugar Blue, who will stop by the Noodle March 11. The man with the lungs of steel recorded two albums for Alligator Records (Blue Blazes and In Your Eyes) in the ’90s, and saw his long-awaited third album Code Blue released late last year. He also has a footnote in rock history for playing harp on three Rolling Stones albums (Some Girls, Tattoo You and Emotional Rescue), with his most familiar contribution on the song “Miss You.”
The final chapter of this harmonica medley is left to Michelle Malone who brings her harp, slide guitar and rootsy Deep South vocals to Indianapolis March 13. Her latest album, Sugarfoot (SBS), builds a bridge between blues and Americana.
Matthew Socey is host of The Blues House Party, Saturdays at 10 p.m. on WFYI 90.1 FM.