To say Carlos del Junco plays the harmonica is like saying Jimi Hendrix played guitar.
The Harrison Festival Society presents Carlos del Junco & the Blues Mongrels on March 30 in the Harrison Memorial Hall for a show blues fans won't want to miss.
Del Junco is one of those players whose music is so advanced that when it comes to awards, it's either retire the category or rephrase the question to "Best Harmonica Player Not Named Carlos." This includes two Gold Medals from the Hohner World Harmonica Championship in Trossingen, Germany, as well as multiple national awards in Canada.
Simultaneously sophisticated and raw, del Junco's playing blurs the boundaries between blues and jazz. The emphasis is on blues, but del Junco and his band are not afraid to traipse off in other directions and deliver a seamless fusion of New Orleans second-line grooves, swing, Latin, hip-hop or ska melodies, to swampy roots rock.
Born in Havana, Cuba, del Junco (loosely translated "of the reeds") emigrated with his family at the age of one. He bent his first note on a harmonica when he was 14, making his debut with his high school math teacher at a student talent night. In his early 20s del Junco was immersed in a visual arts career; he graduated with honours from a four-year program, majoring in sculpture at the Ontario College of Art and Design. Sculpture has definitely had an influence on his outlook on music.
"Music is just a different way of creating textures and shapes," he says.
Playing a 10-hole diatonic harmonica, del Junco has developed the unique ability to play chromatically by using a recently developed "over-blow" technique taught to him by jazz virtuoso Howard Levy. Overall, this approach to the diatonic harmonica, although much more difficult to achieve, is in many ways more expressive and communicative than the mechanized tone produced by the chromatic harmonica
Del Junco has recorded with Bruce Cockburn, Kim Mitchell, Oliver Schroer, Zap-pacosta and has also worked with Dutch Mason, Hoc Walsh (Downchild Blues Band) and Holly Cole ? Del Junco and the band perform March 30 at 8 p.m. in the Harrison Memorial Hall. Tickets are $22 and can be purchased by phone at 604796-3664, online at www.harrisonfestival.com or in person at the Ranger Station Art Gallery in Harrison, or Agassiz Shoppers Drug Mart.