Jerry Portnoy

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Lesson 1

This week we're going to begin learning Little Walter's Juke - the most famous of all harmonica instrumentals. We'll take it in small bites, one chorus a week, until we work our way through the entire song.

A harp in key of E.

Topics and/or subjects covered in this lesson:
Jerry Portnoy
A Harp
Little Walter

Print Print Chords & Tab

A harp in key of E.

loop @ 2:38 to practice the main riff

loop @ 4:16 to practice the first chorus slowly

loop @ 5:18 to practice the open chord trick


Little Walter Jacobs (1930 - 1968) changed the Chicago blues sound in 1952 with his instrumental "Juke", spending eight weeks in the #1 position on the Billboard magazine R&B charts.





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Jerry Portnoy
Jerry Portnoy May 08, 2015

Original is "A" harp in key of "E".

Bob Piscura
Bob Piscura Dec 19, 2014

Thank Jerry, I'm not used to getting up that high on the hapr but will be sure to get the 6-9 chord. Here is the tab for the turnaround does it look close? As I get the notes correct on a new song then I speed up and get the rhythm right, I hope that is a good way of doing it! -3 -2, 1-4 draw chord to 3blow to 1-4 draw chord to 2blow, -1,-1 Thanks again and happy holidays!

Bob Piscura
Bob Piscura Dec 17, 2014

Hi Jerry, I'm off on the juke lesson and wanted to send you the sloooow version that I just recorded. I appreciate you critique. Have agreat holiday.


Jerry Portnoy
Jerry Portnoy Dec 18, 2014

Hi Bob,

Not a bad beginning effort but a couple of things to note: when you go high on the 5th and 6th repetitions of the opening riff, you're playing 10 blow instead of 9 blow (or more correctly the 6/9 octave. The other thing is the turnaround at the end of the chorus. You're close but listen carefully to the rhythm and notes I'm playing in the last bar.

Jerry Portnoy
Jerry Portnoy Sep 24, 2014

Hi Robert,

It sounds like you're starting on a bent note on the 2 hole draw. It should start on the 2 draw natural, then into a bend on 3 draw and release to the natural 3 draw. Alternatively, You could start on the 3 blow and then the 3 draw bend and release before moving on. You can play all eight repetitions ending on the 3/6 blow octave or, if you play repetitions 5&6 on the 6/9 octave as I do, try to hit that octave cleanly. In your video you play more of an open chord. Still, it's a great start. Keep working on it.

Robert Lyons
Robert Lyons Sep 16, 2014

 My take on the opening chorus of Juke. So happy to have found these lessons online!

Boyd R
Boyd R Jun 20, 2014

Thanks Jerry

Jerry Portnoy
Jerry Portnoy Jun 19, 2014

Hey Boyd,

Nice job! I can hear that your control and especially your timing is much improved. It's right on the beat. You're making some nice progress now. Really glad to hear it!!

Jerry Portnoy
Jerry Portnoy Mar 11, 2013

Hi Aria,

Welcome to Sonic Junction. Listen closely, have fun and you'll make progress. Glad to have you on board.

Jerry Portnoy
Jerry Portnoy Feb 11, 2013

Hi John,

I can't really make heads or tails of what you notated which is one reason I don't believe in tablature. Use the slow down feature and sing the part you want to learn - just like you would learn to sing a song from repeated listening to it play on radio. Once you have the part in your head you can figure out where the notes are, play it over and over until you can take your conscious mind out of the equation.

Jerry Portnoy
Jerry Portnoy Sep 17, 2012

Hey Ben,

Great to see you at the festival I played recently. The overarching comment I would have on you Juke video is that the flow and seamlessness need to be worked on. This will naturally improve with time as the technique becomes more and more natural. Stay with it!

bencohen99 Aug 23, 2012

Hi Jerry,

Here’s my attempt at the first Juke lesson – at a slow tempo.  As we move into the 2nd part, after the eight main riffs, I wasn’t always sure when to do an open chord, an octave, or a tongue slap.  On the third note of that new section I try to hit a 3-4 draw open chord, on the 4th note I shoot for a 2-5 blow octave, and then mostly tongue slaps and single note tongue blocking till near the very end of that 2nd section where I do some “ta doo” lip blocking around the 2 draw and 2 blow.  Any feedback much appreciated.  --   Ben.

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