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Brendan Power

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I first saw Brendan at the IHO Festival 2000 in Bournemouth. He was doing a workshop sitting on a stool, and after about half an hour he had cases and reed plates scattered around him. As he changed subject or took questions he would quickly assemble the correct harmonica bits (usually) required to play the mode or melody in the best way. When he played it was like quicksilver dancing. The fluidity of the fiddle played on a harmonica. He then came to the NHL festival in Swanmore in 2000 and showed again his command and musicality. He appeared at the SPAH festival in Denver in 2001 and astounded an enthralled US audience. The NHL Festival in Bristol in October 2002 will let us see where his musical journey is taking him.

Brendan Power is a New Zealander who has developed a considerable reputation for his concert and recording work featuring the harmonica. Equally at ease on both the earthy Blues Harp as well as the sophisticated Chromatic Harmonica, he employs his own custom tunings to breathe fresh life into an often typecast instrument - especially in his original compositions, which feature on several of the instrumental CDs he has released to date.

Brendan is a New Zealander with Irish roots. Starting with an awakening when he saw Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee in 1976, then getting introduced to the music of Sonny Boy Williamson, he really started playing when he got involved in the local folk band scene. Learning to play like Charlie McCoy and all the Irish and blues music he was playing helped put together the skills which have seen him rise to the top of the harmonica tree.

He moved London in 1992, and his innovative approach got him a lot of session work with well known artists. He won the 1993 All Ireland Title in the 'Miscellaneous Instruments' category, and subsequently recorded a CD entitled New Irish Harmonica. Its fresh approach virtually redefined the role of the harmonica in traditional Irish music, and it opened a lot of doors including a TV series on Irish music, "A River of Sound", and a three year spell touring the world with the stageshow Riverdance.

Back at home in London he has been busy completing several new album projects, writing instructional packages for the harmonica, doing session work, and appearing at some major harmonica festivals, usually with an accoustic guitar. His interest in Celtic music has expanded into other folk music including mid European music such as Bulgarian.

Along with playing and recording, Brendan is particularly interested in harmonica tuning and construction, and has developed a number of innovations in these areas. He makes and sells innovative custom chromatic harmonicas from his web site, and one of his ideas (the Power Reed Valve System), was adopted by the Suzuki Musical Instrument Co. of Japan, who incorporated it in their top-of-the-line ProMaster harmonica.

New - Brendan has a few vacancies for students wanting instruction in playing the harmonica.

Brendan's discography, instruction material and customised harmonicas

Country Harmonica (1984), State Of The Harp(1990), Harmonica Nights(1990, Digging In(1991) Cassette, Licks N' Spits(1991), New Irish Harmonica(1994), Harmonica(1996), Jig Jazz(1996), Blow In(1996), Music From Riverdance(1997), Two Trains Running(1999), Tanks Aloft(2000), Live In Ireland(2000), Dawn To Dusk(2000).

All of these can be purchased online at Brendan's web site.

Brendan has prepared two instruction kits (book, harps and CD)

If you are interested in reading about or buying Brendan's customised harmonica's, click here.

Links to other pages about Brendan Power

Brendan Power's Gig list

Brendan'ss gig and tour guide can be read here.

Brendan's Favourite CDs and Musicians

  • Sonny Boy Williamson II: This is my Story (Chess)
  • Little Walter: Juke
  • Charlie McCoy: Charlie My Boy (Monument Records)
  • Toots Thielemans and Bill Evans: Affinity (Warner Bros. BSK 3293)
  • Stevie Wonder: Eivets Rednow

The other harmonica players he likes are Claude Garden (his favourite classical player), Tommy Reilly for his innovative playing of Irish tunes on chromatic, Howard Levy (in his more romantic moments), other blues greats like Big Walter, Junior Wells, and Dave Burgin, Irish overblow-diatonic and chromatic player Mick Kinsella (due to release his first album this year), and young Spanish chromatic player Antonio Serrano.

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