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Hawkeye Kane / Blog

My Harmonica Arsenal

For the most part, my axes are all Hohner models. Special 20's, Blues Harps, Big Rivers, and some Marine Bands I need to get rebuilt. I like the 20's the best. Easiest to play and they have the best tone quality. I started getting the Blues Harps and Big Rivers early last year because, at the time, the only harps Hohner made with interchangeable reed plates were the ones on the Modular System, which these fall under. Since then, Hohner has started selling replacement reed plates for the Special 20, so I've been rebuilding and using them again, much to my delight. I also have a couple of Hohner Piedmont Blues harps. These are cheap Chinese made models with plastic cover plates and metal-plastic composite reed plates. They're very leaky and take a lot of air to get good tone out of them. But they work in a pinch. The only chromatic harp I own is also made by Hohner, the Educator 10. I don't have much use for it a lot of the time, but it's the only harp one can play the national anthem on successfully, so I've been working on that. :-) I also have a few Seydel Blues Sessions, as they were recommended to me by the great Charlie Musselwhite when I had the fortune to meet him in March of 2011. I love the tone they produce. Very sweet and mellow. And they also have replaceable reed plates...which is a good thing. Because I've found the reeds to be far more fragile than Hohner reeds. I keep the Seydels on hand as backups, but I try not to play them very much to keep them in working order. The one Chinese made harmonica that I've actually found I like is the Huang Silvertone Deluxe. I first bought one when I was in a bind and HAD to have an A harp, but no other harps in A were available at my local store. It was half the price of a Special 20, so I was dubious. I found that while they're no Special 20 by any means, they are very decent harps! They take some breaking in, but once they're broken, they sound very nice. I came to find out not long ago, that another Huang model, the Star Performer, was actually the harp of choice for the late-great Norton Buffalo, long time harp player for the Steve Miller Band. Finally, as my last ditch harps, I have a set of LoDuca Brothers Blues Harmonicas. Another cheap Chinese made harp. But they are in tune, don't require an outrageous amount of air, and get the job done when all other harps have failed.

My Microphone Arsenal

ASTATIC BY HOHNER JT30RH - This was my main bullet for a very long time. My first bullet was a Hohner BluesBlaster, the volume pot of which went bad after about 4 or 5 months. I sent it in under warranty (repair or replacement was up to them) and they sent me the JT30RH. The two are nearly identical component and configuration-wise, but the RH uses the vintage 5/8" screw on connection while the BluesBlaster had a high-Z XLR. The element was a cheap ceramic pyzo that finally died on me over the summer. I'm planning on rebbuilding it with better quality vintage components whenever I get around to it. I mis it dearly though. PEAVEY H5C CHERRY BOMB - I bought this as a stand-in for the JT30. It's very similar in configuration to the Shure 520DX Green Bullet. Size, shape, weight and v/c are all the same. It differs from the 520 in its connection, a mini-XLR, and has finger grooves on the top surface for better gripping. It also has an on/off switch on the the top of it as an added control. It's a pretty brushed red color with a charcoal black grille. Peavey outsourced construction of this mic to China, which a lot of times adds up to mud. But this thing has a lot of balls to it, despite the element most likely being a Chinese-made dynamic element. It's currently my main mic, and it's serving me well thus far. AKAI DM13 - These were originally manufactured in the late 60's through the early 80's by Akai when it was still Japanese based. They were intended for use with tape recorders, dictation machines, and CB radios. But they make excellent harp stick-mics. About six inches long, and roughly the same shape as say a Shure SM57, but much lighter in weight. The connection is a slight drawback, it's wired directly into the butt end of the mic with a 6' cord and a 1/4" plug. I extend this with a double-female 1/4" barrel and another instrument cable. It has no v/c, which can be problematic when it comes to dynamics and solos, but I'm gonna look into installing a volume pot in it for better conrol over this. AMPEX MODEL 1101 - I just got this recently on eBay. It's an odd looking little sucker. Late 60's to early 70's issue, these were again made for tape recorders and dictation machines by Ampex here in the US. It almost resembles a tiny Lava Lite that's been bent in half at the middle. It only stands about 4 inches tall when set on a flat surface. The connection, like the Akai, is wired in through the side at the bottom end of the mic. I will probably be making some mods to this mic to make it a little more friendly to playing on stage, but it has good ballsy tone for such a little old tape recorder mic. SHAKER RETRO ROCKET - My mother gave this to me for Christmas two years ago. It's pretty much a one-of-a-kind mic built by Shaker Microphones in Arizona. It's a bullet, but like no other bullet out there today. It's miniscule, about the size of a golf ball. Black powder coat finish with a pewter grille, and a v/c knob on the reverse side. Where they found them, they're reluctant to tell...but Shaker installed a tiny crystal element in this thing. Rare thing nowadays to begin with, but one that small...WOW! Mine is one of the first issue of the RR, with the 5/8" screw-on connection and a 5/8" to 1/4" femal Amphinol/Switchcraft adapter. These adapters are getting harder and harder to find these days for some reason, so the newer models are being built with a simple 1/4" female jack in place of the screw-on. I like the mic fairly well, but it doesn't have a lot of balls to it, so I usually use it for acoustic stuff. But I always have it with me when I gig so that I have a good mic to fall back on should I need it.

My Amplifier Arsenal

1965 BLACK FACE KALAMAZO MODEL 2 Serial# 3113- My most recent purchase, and a damn good one at that. Thanks to Mr. Greg Heumann of BlowsMeAway Productions, this little classic practice tube amp has been rebuilt, refinished, and revamped to be a fantastic harp amp. It still has its original 10" CTS Alnico speaker, and all four of its original Raytheon tubes delivering an 8 watt output. It has the tremolo oscillator as well that the old Kalamazoo Model 1's lacked. 2 inputs on 1 channel. The power systems were rebuilt and made safe with a modern three prong power cord, and a line out jack was installed by Greg so I can channel into another amp or a PA via a Peavey EDI box. Love it! PEAVEY VYPYR 15 - I picked this little solid state digital modeling amp at a shop in Terre Haute, IN a couple years ago. First off, I love Peavey. American made electronics, and durable as hell. This amp is no exception. 15 watt output through an 8" customized modeling speaker. It has 24 amp channel models, both the clean and distorted channels of 12 different popular amps, 11 editable post-amp "rack" effects with dual-parameter control. Now, I don't use most of these. A lot of them simply create feedback with my microphones. But it's nice to know that I can start messing with it should I ever want to. The controls are all digital save for the master volume. One drawback to this amp is that it has no line out except for the headphone jack, so I have to mic the amp when I use it until I can get a tech to install a line out on it. But all in all, I still love this amp. Great bang for the buck. MARSHALL MG10CD - This was the first amp I bought when I started playing harp. It was good for what I was doing then, but I've evolved to needing more power and better distortion. I seldom use it anymore save for small acoustic gigs.

Another future harpist...

There are times I wish that everything in my life could be viewed as simply as they are when I'm in front of a crowd, playing my harp and keeping them entertained. It's the simplest thing in the world. Get a feel for them, start your schtick the way you think it'll be best received, and go to town. Not everything in life is that way. Sometimes there are other variables that keep you hopping from one minute to the next to try and keep up with the curves that are thrown to you. One such instance came to me last September when my wife told me that I was going to be a father. Can you say "direct shock to the nervous system"? Luckily enough for me, I had a lot of my fellow area musicians to advise me. Hipbone Sam, Bad Bill Robinson, Bruce Baise, Kelly Moore, Doc Janas, Eddy and Lori Eden, Brad Hessing, and my own father-in-law, Gary Moore. All these fathers had one thing or another up their sleeves that helped them get ready for that awesome day that they joined the ranks of all those who'd come before. The months flew by. I had all the usual responsibilities a guy has prepping for fatherhood, including getting a new domicile secured as well. And during all this, I still kept wondering, "Am I gonna be ready when I have to be ready?" It wasn't until about her seventh month that my final oomph came through. My mother visited us with a series of gifts for baby (which by that point we knew to be a boy). She saved one bag for last. Out of it, she first pulled out a tiny black pork pie hat with a white band, and a pair of black Foakley shades resting in the brim. Next came out a pair of deep blue OshKosh B'Gosh blue jeans in the same size. Then, a black suit jacket the size of a Cabbage Patch doll. Then a pair of baby Chuck Taylors. And finally, a onesie that read on the front "Got Harmonica?", wrapped around a small Victory Harp. Lucky for me, my mom pays attention to my gig photos. ;-) It was at this moment that I truly realized how fun this experience could turn out to be. I've always been something of a crusader for my instrument. Not many people play it anymore, even though at one time in America, it was a widely held hobby. Every time someone comes up to me at a gig and says "Yeah, I've got an old harmonica of my grandfather's. He used to play it. I thought about taking it up, but I've never gotten around to it," I jump and tell them they should give it a whirl. And now, God's will be done, I've supplied the world with another young harpist to keep the faith. It's actually quite liberating. My young son Liam is too young to understand it yet, but the coolest thing is, he already loves harmonica music. How's that for a chip off the old block? - Hawk

Setlist Springfield

There's a new outlet here in central Illinois for original artists. Thanks to Brien Murphy at the State Journal-Register, we now have Setlist Springfield. You can check out local talent there, read bio's, listen to original music, and check show schedules. http://music.sj-r.com

Starting off....

Hawkeye Kane - [hawk-ahy keyn] -noun 1. a musical entity, basing its melody in tones emitted from a harmonica and vocal chords. Hawkeye Kane is the stagename for one Timothy Kane. Born and reared in the heart of Illinois, Hawkeye first picked up the harmonica in 2002 for the grins of it, starting out with folk music and Civil War tunes for the enjoyment of his immediate family. After a six year hiatus of dabbling in the world of jazz trumpet and rhythm, he rejuvenated his love for the harp in 2008, joining in at the Sunday night open mic at Turasky's Trail's End Saloon in Curran, Illinois. Teaming up with area guitarists Fred Manker and Tim Dugan, he started adding vocals to his repertoire, Jason Mraz and Paolo Nutini being some of his favorite covers. On Valentine's Day of 2009, a joyous occasion came to pass near Terre Haute, Indiana. Hawkeye Kane married Stephanie Moore, the woman of his dreams. Unlike other women in his past, his blushing bride was an anchor of support in his endeavors to become a better musician, and showed it in earnest by traveling with him to watch him and his colleagues play. To this day, Hawkeye still refers to her as his "Luckiest of Lucky Charms." The genre of blues settling into his musical tastebuds in early 2009, he began learning from his mentor, area harmonica virtuoso "Bad" Bill Robinson. He also began to tour semi-regularly with local artist "Hipbone Sam" Kevin Hawkins. Since then, Hawkeye has sat in and played with Illinois acts such as The Bluesmattics, The Mojo Cats, The Suns of Circumstance, Tombstone Bullets, Prairie Pranksters, Joe Cook Band, Freightshaker, Deak Harp Blues Band, Frank Trompeter Quartet, Burnett & Kornfeld, The Tijuana Toads, Royal Pain, Show Pigs, and The Sarah Schneider Band. Today, Hawkeye can usually be found in the company of Hipbone Sam & Friends, at the Monday Night Open Jam at the Old Timer's Lounge in Springfield, other Springfield open mics, or joining in wherever there's room! "My name is Hawkeye…and I play the harmonica."