A tin for the ear

THE tin sandwich man is coming to town.

East coast blues man Kelvin Carlson travels the country teaching people how to play the tin sandwich, aka the harmonica.

The Sydney-sider originally picked up the instrument after figuring the guitar would take him too long to learn.

“I used to sit around with my mates and drink too much beer, and they used to play guitar and I said ‘I wish I could do that’.”

But “to learn how to play guitar was going to take forever… I’d have to sit around for five years!”

Instead, he embarked on the easier harmonica, early experiments sounding like rusty gates that strained close relationships.

“I nearly lost my girlfriend at the time,” he chuckles, and, when playing with guitarist friends “one of them turned to me and said ‘mate, can you not do that?’

“So I decided I was going to get good at this, it really emboldened me.”

Along with teaching budding blues musos how to play, he’s also taught kids with downs syndrome and autism.

When he comes to WA he’ll be doing a few workshops teaching inmates at Acacia “the perfect prison instrument”.

Carlson says people can learn harmonica basics in a couple of hours.

“You don’t need musical theory, I played with bands without any musical theory for about 20 years,” he says. “I only learnt how to read music five years ago.

“I’m not that interested in scales. I guess I should be, but I play from the heart, not the head.”

Carlson runs his three-hour beginner blues harmonica workshop at The Meeting Place in Freo on June 7 at 2pm.

It costs $100 and you get a Hohner harmonica. Book on 0416 160 996.


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