Some Class Notes make us want to know more.Tweet
Howard Herrnstadt ’70 says, “Although I teach English for speakers of other languages in Prince George’s County, Md., my passion is still music. I play harmonica and bass guitar, and I sing and study alto sax. I also write songs and have recorded a CD of originals with my band, Xpress."
I learned harmonica from Jerry Silverstein ’69. We met at WHRW; I was folk music director and Jerry was a folk DJ. He generously took me along to play with him when he performed on a local TV station. We primarily played country blues and jug band music. Jerry was a big fan of Mississippi John Hurt. I jammed with folkies and rock bands, and walked around campus late at night practicing harmonica. I think I got yelled at once or twice. I graduated in 1970 with a degree in anthropology. Jerry was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Original Score in 2003 as one of the songwriters for Urban Cowboy on Broadway.
My stage name is Harmonica Blu. I’ve played blues and other types of American folk music since I was a teenager, but have also studied music theory and classical singing, and sang in a church and concert choirs. I studied jazz improvisation as a singer with the great Barry Harris in New York City. These days, I focus on blues, but still make forays into jazz.
My current band, Xpress, is blues-based, influenced by musicians from Paul Butterfield to Bob Dylan. We have just released a CD titled Brothers from Other Mothers. I feel most alive when I’m performing and it’s really going well. I’m looking forward to a lot more playing, getting better on my alto sax and getting paid more! I try to stay in good shape so my voice and wind stay strong for a long time. Find out more at HarmonicaBluXpress.com.