Thursday, April 15, 2010

War: Lowrider

“Hey you got your cowbell in my TV Thursday’s song!” “No you got your TV Thursday song with my cowbell.” While researching cowbell songs for yesterday’s post, I was reminded of “Lowrider” by War. It fits the TV genre as it was the theme song for George Lopez’s sitcom, which is not to be confused with his current TBS late night show.

War featured the harp (er, harmonica) playing of Lee Oskar. Oskar, who was born in Copenhagen as Oskar Levitan Hansen, left his native Denmark at the age of 18 for New York City. Eventually, he met Eric Burdon and became a member of his new band War. His signature playing can be heard on most of the band’s hits.

A number of years ago Tombo began marketing a brand of harmonicas under Oskar’s name and they are sought by players because of their rigid construction and ease of playing. Tombo makes four types of Lee Oskar harps. Prior to the Lee Oskar brand, Lee would retune Hohner harmonicas so he could play in certain styles and musical modes. The retuning was done by filing down the reads.

Lee Oskar produces the standard diatonic harmonica, the Melody Maker that can be used in country music, the harmonic minor that allows the player to easily provide harp parts to a variety of music styles, and the natural minor that is a minor blues harmonica. I stocked up on diatonic harmonicas in the 1970s when I bought all 12 keys from Clyde Bryant at his store in Logan, West Virginia.

Several of the original harps eventually blew out and I replaced these over the years – so I haven’t had the need to replace any more; however, I did purchase the Hi G and Lo F models. Over the years, I have purchased some of the other types of Lee Oskar harps – with the majority of these being harmonic minors.

By the way, yesterday’s post on “more cowbell” had the highest number of page views with 143. The previous daily high was 89.

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