Harmonica Virtuoso

With skill, humor, and sensitivity, Buddy Greene brings the harmonica to life in ways you will have never experienced, and will never forget. A lifelong musician, Buddy first performed on stage at the age of 10, and has gone on to an exemplary, award-winning career as an instrumentalist and songwriter. During his presentation at Imagine Solutions, Buddy wowed the audience with his mastery of the harmonica, demonstrating a wide range of styles, from traditional blues and folk to classical. Learn about the harmonica, and its influential and varied role in music, while being simply amazed by the talents of Buddy Greene and his pure homage to the arts.

I brought a box of harmonicas here I'm gonna I'm gonna sort of reacquaint you with a harmonica this used to be one of the more popular instruments you know a few generations back especially during the Depression when they only cost about a quarter and it's about all anybody could afford so some of you came up to me at the mixer last night and said oh my my dad played the harmonica or my granddad so you know you you you remembered is this so it was just always that nice little friendly thing you know it the kids loved it grandpa was the hero but then it was uh you know let me let me hit a few more stereotypes uh the campfire [Music] [Music]
it also brings out the clown and all of us let's see it's it's good for the hoedown you know the holding and you know what the hoedown is right that's when you put the hoedown work is over it's time to play yeah the hoedown it's also good for blues [Music]
yeah so so those are the sort of common ways we think of this instrument but it's really it's very expressive and an instrument that has a lot of diversity for example its international we could take it out of the country take it south of the border oh yes I love that
Latin Sun so let's keep it Latin here for me let's go down to Argentina and land of the tunngle yeah I said justice just to conclude this this orientation this introduction we'll jump across the pond and get Celtic we're going to be with the Irish here so here's a little Irish pub song I can tell that's what you're hungry for this morning [Music]
well am a little like a man a black a man a pain after threescore ammo around this little on the green unknown from my pack were down to Saku and I'm known by the name Johnny to along the tracks ago was shown a mechanism s4 when a man is tired he could sit them down and rest it begs for a supper he is nothing enough to do but step around a corner with his own so how does a man choose this well it's a long story I'm gonna give you a little thumbnail sketch though of my journey my musical journey so so if you
will back there can you get me started here yeah so let me just say that um I uh I'm from Macon Georgia originally which is a little bit of a hotbed for music it's the home of Little Richard and Otis Redding and the Allman Brothers Band so I grew up in this world of music that I from a very early age I was I was just attracted to it and my journey begins in earnest when at about age 10 I learned a few chords on a ukulele that my older sister had discarded and she taught me a few of the folk songs she knew which were songs like if I had a hammer and 500 miles do you remember this this was the early folks care of 1960 or something and so I learned those songs and then the British Invasion began with the Beatles in 1964 on that Sullivan that changed everything so you
know I looked around the neighborhood and there were a few other boys like me who had ukuleles and we gathered together and and there was one kid hanging around with us who couldn't play and so we we handed him a set of bongos and we we formed our first group we called ourselves the flying beetles we had seen that caption under a picture of the Beatles getting off an airplane and we thought that's pretty cool that's who we'll be we were we knew we were destined for greatness our parents helped us out they they were they helped us get instruments as we graduated to guitars and drums and and we started becoming a local favorite plan with bands in in battles of the bands and in local dances and civic groups by this time I was the obvious front guy so we called ourselves buddies buddies and and then about and in high school that's when I started noticing the harmonica and mainly through the
popular music of the day of people at the Beatles and The Rolling Stones you would hear the instrument played by people like John Lennon or Mick Jagger Bob Dylan and and mainly used as an instrument of affect you know they weren't masters of the instrument but they were using it to good effect in those things so so it was already a cool thing in my imagination but once I once I encountered some of the masters of this instrument and I'm talking about people like little Walter who was the king of the harmonica of the Chicago harp players he had he had a great he's influenced every harmonica player who's come since him and he had that style I was doing a little earlier [Music] you know it was a it was a very much sounded count almost like a especially when he would amplified it sounded like a saxophone and and it was became a key
sound of Chicago Blues especially but about all blues music has always had had had the harmonica as a key instrument even in the rural example of that Sonny Terry whose picture here he had more of a rhythmic approach to this thing so it was his his his style of playing was more like he would do Fox hunts and train songs and if he did a fox scent he would he would imitate the foxes like [Music] and it was this morning everybody had a fox hunt or a train song in their repertoire of course the train was uh was really the best the best train song I ever heard was done by my big hero Charlie McCoy who actually vacations down here in Naples every
winter you may if you've lived down here you may have seen Charlie performing in the area now Charlie is a Country Music Hall of Famer he was an eighteen studio player back in the 60s and 70s playing on everybody's record he's a good friend of mine and probably my biggest influence here's a little bit of train music a la Charlie McCoy [Music]
say thank you there was you know they were also what I play is the diatonic instrument by the way it's is that the diatonic harmonica is the one that's more kid-friendly it's it's basically an
instrument that's tuned to usually a major scale and so why so many I have one in every key for all twelve keys so like a key in and you get the major scale and then you get some chords you get what's called the tonic chord and then the dominant chord with it and with those two chords and that major scale you can play a lot of popular music and then through techniques like bending and over blowing and getting overtones and things you can fill in the gaps find the missing chromatic tones of course there is also the chromatic harmonica and go back to the screen there for just a minute you'll see touch Stillman I have pictured here this was the greatest jazz harmonica player of the 20th century and you may have heard him on songs like leave a tender moment alone by Billy Joel playing that amazing solo but if
you didn't hear him there I know you heard him here [Music] so that was two - Stillman playing that iconic solo and this is the chromatic harmonica which gives you really all 12 tones you actually have two harmonicas one one two key of C and then the other one - the key of C sharp or D flat and that gives you all naturals and accidentals to play with all right so so now let me go back to Maya I'm gonna move things along here a little bit I in my 20s I was just a part of a bar scene in Macon Georgia this was a little band I was a part of uncle Ernie brand where I was really starting to major on the harmonica and making a little bit of a
name for myself it was also a school of hard knocks we we played bars and taverns and parties and wherever we could make $50 a night and I finally got the first real job playing with Jerry Reed country music superstar entertainer movie actor great singer songwriter a great harm I mean a guitar player and it was really it moved me and my wife to Nashville Tennessee and and started an apprenticeship that I really needed to see how to take music to a national level and and start a recording career of my own which now after 30 years I've recorded about 20 different CDs and along the way these are a few CD titles and covers and then eventually I threw through knowing people like Bill and Gloria Gaither who are very well known in the gospel music world and others
doors have opened for me this wasn't even supposed to happen in Carnegie Hall and I was just standing there one day with Bill as we were going through rehearsals and I said this is so cool to be here bill thanks for inviting me to Carnegie Hall to be on your video and he said you like to do something tonight and I said well sure I mean I've been waiting for this all my life are you kidding and so he said well what would you do and so he and I had we had messed around with harmonica shtick and all before and I said you remember what we used to about ten years ago I said let's just let's just do a little truncated version of that and so that night he called me out and it was not on the program but it was a wonderful moment for me and so you want to see what happened at Carnegie Hall okay so you know the best thing a harmonica player has going for him or people's low expectations so knowing this and knowing that out here I was in
two-handled hall of Carnegie and and just thinking wow all right so I mean these these folks they don't want to hear hoedowns they don't want to hear blues you know they're sophisticated they want to hear something that's takes this instrument to an unexpected high so I started with a little bit of Bach [Music]
all right so and and this worked about like that that night that was just a nice warm smattering of applause I thought well okay let's take it from that it's all it takes to you encourage a harmonica player just a little bit and and you're in for so I decided I'd give a little bit of Mozart and follow that with a finish of Rossini [Music]
[Laughter] [Music] [Laughter] [Music]
[Laughter] [Music] [Applause] thank you well thanks this is not what I
do harmonica demonstrations but it's been nice to share this with you and mostly I'm an entertainer I've traveled around the world all around the country and usually I have a musician with me helping me have the fun I've always loved making music it's Randy asked me to speak a little bit to the arts and you know for me the harmonica was really the key to understanding how much I needed art music in my life and and then later I want to just add to that the humanities I was a I was an English major in college a bad one I've been in remedial studies ever since but I do believe that those as we hear that all this talk today is so funny that I'm here at this conference for all this tech talk is going on I am such an idiot when it comes to the world of
technology computers my kids tell me I'm on the struggle bus at all times but I do know that when it comes to the world of technology and all these amazing innovations and how quickly they come and that now more than ever do we need wise choices the world always needs wise choices and it's not enough to know that we can do something but why do we do something and I believe is the world of art and humanities that gives us that the head and the heart to understand these things to just to look at history and know where we come from to see the mistakes to see the triumphs to understand philosophy theology literature and these great ideas that have come down and realized that these are things to build on so the harmonica you know I grew up in a I grew up in a family where there was a my parents where I had my dad with city poor my mother was country poor and neither one of them knew what to do with a kid who was in love with the Beatles
and the harmonic and music but they encouraged me and eventually I had good teachers and I had people that took me under their wings I have no formal training in in music but but I've learn from some of the best teachers in the world some that I mentioned today people like Charlie McCoy so I thought I would just end my talk with you today with a lot of my reputation has been built in the gospel music world I as a songwriter most of the songs I've written have been based one way or another on my Christian faith so I'm gonna do a little hymn that might be familiar to some of you and then I'll be dismissed it's great been great to be with you [Music]
[Music] come thou fount of every blessing tune my heart to sing thy grace streams of Mercy never ceasing call for songs of loudest praise teach me some melodious song sung by flaming tongues above
praise the Mount I'm fixed upon Mount of thy redeeming love [Music] thank you [Applause]