Larry "The Iceman"

Larry "The Iceman"
Larry "The Iceman" commented on: Sonnyboy's Groove Introduction Breakdown Nov 15, 2022

I can do a lot on the harmonica, but the Sonny Boy Groove has excaped me for years. Thanks for the tutorial.

Rick Estrin
Rick Estrin Nov 15, 2022

Well Larry, I'm glad I could help, and yeah, you can absolutely do a lot on the harmonica ūüėā

Seriously though, Sonnyboy 2's style is pretty unique, so again, I'm glad I could help.

Larry "The Iceman"
Larry "The Iceman" commented on: First Position Abberition Performance Dec 31, 2021

Hello to my old friend....apologize for using this format, but you know I love to talk music. OMG - totally advanced ideas and not the same ol' same ol'! Even "messin" with the time a little. Most unique to your approach is using notes created through bending technique (on 2 and 4 hole inhale) to not only create the flat 7th, but also that major 7th when appropriate. It was the most unique aspect I noticed about your playing from way back in the day, and you do it in this lesson, too! Happy New Year and all the best!

Rick Estrin
Rick Estrin Dec 31, 2021

Hey Larry - Happy New Year! I'm real glad you like the piece - To me, all the notes and licks are real normal for blues, they're just a little atypical for the usual approach to first position blues harmonica.

Larry "The Iceman"
Larry "The Iceman" commented on: The Lockdown Shuffle Performance Dec 27, 2020

Holy Moly. Sounds like Rick is just a little bit tired of lock downs and wants to BUST OUT - very aggressive.....and not in the least bit a simple performance -  so much happening within the groove, etc. However, if all the students are also locked down, they will have plenty of time to do a deep dive here - silver lining in a dark cloud, maybe?

Rick Estrin
Rick Estrin Jan 13, 2021

We'll see what happens Larry - I alway intend to keep it simple, but it always ends up multi-layered.

Larry "The Iceman"
Larry "The Iceman" commented on: Chicago Shuffle Performance & Introduction Oct 05, 2020

I like how you took the traditional birthday song and made it your own by "messin'" with the melody timewise just a bit! Sounds original.


Larry "The Iceman"
Larry "The Iceman" commented on: Mr. Lee's Mambo Performance Sep 28, 2020

Your 3 hole inhale bends are right on and you understand the difference in that hole between a I chord and a IV chord. Also, that early on V chord idea on the lower end was right on as well. I call that "Fearless Playing". Good job.


Larry "The Iceman"
Larry "The Iceman" commented on: Fattening Frogs for Snakes Performance Jun 25, 2020

I enjoyed the tracking of your rhythm harmonica looping behind your performance. That's the idea that most excellent blues harmonica players (like, um, well, like, uh, I know - RICK ESTRIN) do internally without a digital looping device. They have that rhythm track running in their mind while they sing or solo, sometimes switching and quietly playing that back up groove during pauses in the vocals or soloing. Harmonica = miracle instrument combining rhythm guitar AND lead guitar when approached from this angle.

Mne ponravilos' vashe peniye i igra na garmonike.

Larry "The Iceman"
Larry "The Iceman" commented on: Chicago Shuffle Performance & Introduction May 29, 2020

The most important part is to have "groove" and you do. Loved the "slowtriplet" thang around the 1/2 way point and especially near the end when your right knee couldn't help itself and started jumping up and down to the beat!

Larry "The Iceman"
Larry "The Iceman" commented on: Horton Shuffle Performance & Introduction Mar 13, 2020

If Dennis will allow me to comment ....

Sounds GREAT to me!

Dennis knows how I play and he will understand that, even though I'm not a "traditional style" player, I'm a little jealous of how good you sound at this style.

Larry "The Iceman"
Larry "The Iceman" commented on: Crawlin' Kingsnake Chord Rhythm Feb 14, 2020

I like to think of the chords used this way as the rhythm guitar part that supports the lead lines (or vocals)....If you have a rhythm guitar player whose chords sound as loud or LOUDER than the vocals or the lead/solo lines, he will probably be looking for another gig pretty quickly.

So, chords are supportive and should always be underneath whatever else is going on - even when you are playing both the lead part and the chord part - one reason that this style of harmonica playing is so cool - you are basically doing 2 jobs at once!

Breathe through the chords - don't try to MAKE them sound anything as that usually means trying too hard/too much force.

Sometimes using the word "blow" for exhale notes on the harmonica works subconsciously to make you think you have to use the same force needed to whistle when it should be closer to the energy used when humming.

Larry "The Iceman"
Larry "The Iceman" commented on: Chicago Shuffle Performance & Introduction Dec 04, 2019

wow. what a natural groove you've got! Can't see much to criticize. Keep doin' what you're doin'. 

If you want a suggestion, work on that body movement visual = watch how Rick or Kim Wilson move while playing. You've already got the sound down. also, get you some cool blues clothing to match that authentic sound. Vintage wrist watches are a great accessory!

Larry "The Iceman"
Larry "The Iceman" commented on: Mr. Lee's Mambo Performance Aug 20, 2019

From what you describe, Bill, I think you need "Miles Davis".....everything you need to learn about music and soloing you can learn by listening to how he deals with melodies/soloing. Believe it or not, Miles was totally a blues player in his orientation.

When asked how is it that he solos so imaginatively and wondering how he starts this process, he responded by saying "I think of a (starting) note, and then don't play it".

If you can understand this "Zen" statement after meditating on it, it may open a few doors in your imagination!

Larry "The Iceman"
Larry "The Iceman" commented on: Mr. Lee's Mambo Performance Aug 20, 2019

"Rick you kind of always start at the last beat of each chorus for the next 4 bars and not always on the first beat ,"

Musically, starting ideas on the first beat is not a good idea. It is good to end an idea on the first beat, though.

"playing "licks" after a period of time gets boring"

Lick based playing is like being addicted to learn a few new licks, get all excited and high. After a while, that high wears off and you are not happy, so you go looking for more licks. This repeats endlessly. Best to start to understand how to create your own ideas, or take those licks and change a few notes here and there and make them sound new. Don't look outside yourself for others to feed you ideas - begin to create them yourself from within!

andre Loiselle
andre Loiselle Aug 20, 2019

Hi Larry !! I really appreciated your comments like usual and thank you !!  for the moments only counting  the beats while i m playing and trying to not miss a beat and know where I am in the 12 Bars  ... my "plate" is full !! but I want to thank you because I don t know when you gave me that advice to walk at a pace that I needed to keep a beat while I m playing ... I started to do it yesterday and guess what ?!! It worked Man !! thanks 


Larry "The Iceman"
Larry "The Iceman" commented on: Bo Dee's Bounce Performance Aug 11, 2019

Hey, how about a close up of the watch you are wearing here?

(Some of us besides Rusty are into vintage watches, ya know!)

Aside from that, if anyone learns this complete song, they will totally understand how to use 3 hole inhale in all of its possibilities (except for 3 hole inhale third bend), how to solo off the 2 hole inhale alone, how to break that feel of 4/4 ocasionally into a triplet instead, as well as repetitive shorter linear ideas over different chords and how this works merely by changing one note slightly within that line.

I'd call this a Master Class lesson in everything int/adv!

Rick Estrin
Rick Estrin Aug 11, 2019

ūü§£ - There's also some good conjunctive ¬†use of 2 draw with 3 blow.¬†

Larry "The Iceman"
Larry "The Iceman" commented on: Half Steppin' Performance Jun 18, 2019

wow. You really are still KILL me with that tongue switch at the end! Something I can't do!

Once again, the "chording" behind the groove could be a little less volume making the lead lines stand out more, but it is better than that last video. When your lead line goes down to those lowest holes, the chording sounds a little blurred.

Your control on that 3 hole inhale is very very good - you are hitting the correct pitches dead on most of the time. The 2 hole inhale full bend still needs a bit of work - sometimes you come up just a little to sharp in pitch, but other times it is deep enough. Try to work on the consistency. If you spend 5 minutes/day for 2 weeks on nothing but the 2 hole inhale bend - down to the floor and back up slowly - it should solve this issue.

Overall, you are doing great! keep it up. tres bien!

Larry "The Iceman"
Larry "The Iceman" commented on: Chicago Shuffle Performance & Introduction Jun 03, 2019


I am jealous of your tongue flutters - like the one at the very end. I've been playing for 45 years and can not do it as well as you!

My only suggestion is to think of the chords you play in between the lead lines as rhythm guitar - in other words, it is supportive and should not be played as loud as those lead lines, bringing a more three dimensional sound to your playing....

Larry "The Iceman"
Larry "The Iceman" commented on: Nine Below Zero Performance Apr 17, 2019

Hey Rick - contact me offlist about a potential gig in the middle of May...your old email doesn't work for me any longer....

Rick Estrin
Rick Estrin Apr 17, 2019

Hi Larry - I emailed you at the address I have. Hopefully that'll work.

Larry "The Iceman"
Larry "The Iceman" commented on: Nine Below Zero Performance Mar 18, 2019

Mats - it IS work to learn the harmonica and play it better than average!

An alternative to the metronome is to go for a walk while playing/practicing the harmonica. Once you start walking, usually one finds the natural tempo that works for you and it stays consistant (unless you are walking up and down hills, etc). This will become your natural metronome. Just attach playing your harmonica to your walking tempo.

You've got good tone, approach and basic understanding. Next step is to attach this to a steady tempo that even a drummer could lean on.

Rick Estrin
Rick Estrin Mar 18, 2019

Good advice, Larry! 

Mats Boll
Mats Boll Mar 20, 2019

Thx Larry, i will give this a go, too.
I¬īve allready started using the metronome and trying to figure out the exact time frame¬† while learning the song. It offers me an additional¬†perspective in the learning process¬†(next to tone,riffs,feeling,...) And it is allready getting fun.
Thanks to all

Rick Estrin
Rick Estrin Mar 20, 2019

And Mats, another thing that could be helpful is to remember that the space between the licks is an important part of the music.

Larry "The Iceman"
Larry "The Iceman" commented on: Chicago Shuffle Performance & Introduction Dec 30, 2018
Even the four hole bend is flat...try bending down very slowly to find the full range available. When you hit the "bottom", that is usually a quarter tone too flat.

Même le coude à quatre trous est plat ... essayez de vous pencher très lentement pour trouver toute la plage disponible. Lorsque vous frappez le "fond", vous obtenez généralement un quart de ton trop plat.

Larry "The Iceman"
Larry "The Iceman" commented on: Chicago Shuffle Performance & Introduction Dec 20, 2018

Andre - I will guess that you are French....if so,


Tr√®s bien, Andr√©. Je ne sais pas depuis combien de temps vous √™tes l√†, mais il n‚Äôest pas rare que les √©l√®ves essaient ¬ęjuste un peu trop fort¬Ľ ou utilisent ¬ęjuste un peu trop de force¬Ľ dans leur jeu. Au fur et √† mesure que le temps passe et que l'on s'y d√©tend, on s'aper√ßoit que beaucoup peut √™tre accompli avec moins d'effort. Un "dire" est que vous pliez "au sol" toutes vos notes cr√©√©es par la technique de pliage. (Cela contribue √† ce que Rick a dit √† propos de la note de 3√®me trou cr√©√©e par votre technique de pliage). De plus, je ne sais pas qui essaie de vous faufiler de votre c√īt√© droit, mais s'il s'en va, vous n'aurez pas √† regarder aussi vite par-dessus votre √©paule droite ...;>)
Larry "The Iceman"
Larry "The Iceman" commented on: Chicago Shuffle Performance & Introduction Dec 20, 2018

Pretty good, Andre. I don't know how long you've been at this, but it is not unusual for students to try "just a little too hard" or use "just a little bit too much force" in their playing. As time goes on and one relaxes into it, one finds that so much can be accomplished with less effort. One "tell" is that you bend "to the floor" all of your notes created through bending technique. (This contributes to exactly what Rick said in regards to that 3rd hole note created through your bending technique).

Also, I don't know who is trying to sneak up on you from your right side, but if he goes away, you won't have to do that quick look over your right shoulder either... ;>)

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