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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

I've Got To Help My Own Damn Self - Harmonica Shah

Harmonica Shah (born Thaddeus Hall, March 31, 1946, Oakland, California) is an American Detroit and electric blues harmonicist and singer. His playing was influenced by Junior Wells, Jimmy Reed, Little Walter, Lazy Lester, and Little Sonny.
Born in California, Shah also spent time in Somerville, Texas, with his blues harmonica and guitar playing grandfather, Sam Dawson. Dawson had recorded for both Alan Lomax and Duke Records. His mother, a beautician, encouraged him to be a salesman for Jet magazine in the latter part of the 1950s. This allowed Shah access to Oakland's bars and clubs, where he heard musicians such as Lowell Fulson, Jimmy McCracklin, Juke Boy Bonner and Big Mama Thornton.

Shah told Living Blues magazine that his grandfather's passion for the blues inspired him. "Well see I picked it up from him, he'd be out in the fields singin' all that (sings in a slow moan) 'Tell me how long, whoa, tell me how long it's been since you've been away from home' Well, that's raw! That's a big damn difference from 'Good Golly Miss Molly'".

He moved to Detroit in 1967, and worked for Ford Motors for fifteen years. Shah bought himself a cheap harmonica in 1976 and, while operating as a taxicab driver, Shah was introduced to local blues jam sessions. "Hell, that was it, no turning back then", Shah recalled.

Over the years, Shah has played alongside Bobo Jenkins, Eddie Kirkland, The Butler Twins and Willie D. Warren. His debut album, Motor City Mojo was released by Blue Suit Records in 2000.

His 2006 album, Listen at Me Good, was recorded in Toronto, and included contributions from the Blues Music Award winners Mel Brown on guitar, and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith playing the drums.

He has toured across the United States, as well as in Europe, Russia, Japan and Australia. Closer to his roots, Shah still occasionally performs for free at John's Carpet House in East Detroit. He legally changed his birth name to Seward Shah.

Shah's most recent release was the 2009 album, If All You Have Is a Hammer, on his current record label, Electro-Fi Records
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