A Fresh Start…

Happy Holidays! If you found 2016 a mess of a year I can relate… Sometimes clearing the path for the creative musical life is a twisted journey & this year was one of the craziest rides yet…

In fact, 2016 just might be the weirdest year I’ve ever lived through and I’m just grateful to have enough marbles left to write up some harmonica news as well as an account of some of the bigger stories going on in my life.

You are reading this on my new website! I had it re-built  so you can read it easily on phones and other devices as well as the usual laptops, etc.   I’m getting my platform back together for writing and archiving articles.

This past year has been so full of chaos that my writing habit got side tracked big time.

I helped my brother clear out my parents house and very large garage, a process that seemed endless. My sister was in and out of the hospital numerous times and is currently figuring out where she will be living once she gets stabilized though physical rehabilitation.

My oldest daughter Julia quit her job in Philly seven weeks ago and joined the movement at Standing Rock in North Dakota. Her story became a series of cliff hangers including clashes with police, having her tent destroyed and her backpack impounded with one of a hundred or so cars.  She ended up becoming a force of nature in the main kitchen tent at the Oceti Sakowin Camp and meeting some incredible people. She just went back to North Dakota after a short break in Philly  to sort out what to do next.

Uh, there was also an election. That’s all I have to say about that.

A couple weeks ago I read an article about Billy Ray Cyrus in his darkest hour saying to God “I’m a desperate man, Tell me what to do” and getting the message “Go to Nashville”. He made a phone call, got an audition after telling the receptionist at Mercury Records “you don’t understand – I’m desperate” – she came back with an appointment for 9:15 for “one song”. That one song launched his career.

That story inspired me to ask for my own sign, some kind of guidance. Two hours later I was at the emergency room after a freak accident working on a guitar neck. I cut a tendon near the thumb of my left hand.

I got sewed up by a great hand specialist and I’m going through the rehab process. I can’t play guitar for a while, so I’m taking this as a sign that it’s time to finish up a couple of long neglected projects. I’m going into monk mode for a while until I get my Harmonica Train Rhythms, Pentatonic & Blues Scales series of lessons distilled and formatted. I have a number of other writing projects that I want to revisit and get them archived on this site.

In February of this year I ordered new scrapers for my tool kit – a larger and much improved design. I just got them today after months of delays involving two different machine shops. Suddenly, after months of delays things are starting to come together.

So I will finally get my collection of tools back on the market.

I’ll be doing three levels of upgrades on Hohner Crossovers and similar harmonicas because I can’t shape cover plates for the type of Marine Band customs that I’ve been building for years. I jut posted info on these bad boys at Hotrodharmonicas.com.

And – at the top of this article is my Reed-flame logo in it’s most recent incarnation. One I find a way to wrestle through the tech issues of Photoshop or whatever program it takes for format this image for T-shirts, etc I’ll have some things in the store at Hotrodharmonicas.com in the next couple days that will be sporting a version of this image.

So – thanks for reading this and being a part of my life! Feel free to leave a comment below. It would be good to hear from you… Harpe Diem!






  1. Dennis M. Fischette

    December 21, 2016 - 5:12 pm

    Thank you Richard for all you do for me and others. I always enjoy talking to you and receiving your knowledge. I wish you a merry Christmas and a wonderful new year.

  2. byron thompson

    December 21, 2016 - 10:04 pm

    that sounds like alot of work and time . Anyway have a great hiliday and all best you and your family . DO you retune or waork i have one or two special twentys need a little lol. reeds out of tune do you do some wok on

  3. Jervis Groeneveld

    December 22, 2016 - 5:17 am

    Sounds like 2016 got you ‘all shook up’ which could be a great prep for 2017! Keep up the good work, let’s rock into the new year. All the best!

  4. Lois Porter

    December 22, 2016 - 12:48 pm

    At your suggestion, last night I watched “Finding Joe”. It sounds like you have been on a hero’s journey for the past year, indeed. Don’t give up (I need to remind myself of this as well).

  5. Richard Sleigh

    December 23, 2016 - 6:30 pm

    For some reason, I can’t respond to posts individually. Oh well – new website, new rules…

    Dennis – Thanks and I hope that Florida is treating you well… Happy Holidays!

    Byron – Happy holidays to you! If you want Special 20s fixed up, try checking with Mike Peace at Route 66 harmonicas. He can set you up…

    Jervis – always great to hear from you & yes – let’s make 2017 a rockin good year! Carry on!

    Louis – The hero’s journey is a great way to live & i’m glad you dug the movie – I’ll probably watch it – at least the first part again tonight… Have a great holiday season & thanks for checking in…

  6. Don Makowski

    December 31, 2016 - 9:37 am

    Hi Richard, sorry to hear of your injury. I hope you are healing well. I enjoy using your harmonica tools and look forward to checking out the new scraper. Thank you for sharing Julia’s adventures with us this year and I hope she is doing well. Happy New Year to you and your family.
    Dee Girard Makowski

  7. Man in the black cap

    January 2, 2017 - 10:47 am

    Hi Richard! I’m sorry to hear about your hand accident and all the other stuff! I too have gone through tough years and nothing feels better then coming through at the end (any way you can). I love your playing. Your sound and style is a particularly awesome flavor of perfect!

  8. Richard Hayes

    January 3, 2017 - 6:26 pm

    Hi Richard, Just meeting you here fro the first time. Lots of interesting stuff harmonica related and more. At 65 in a couple of weeks and facing retirement I have been delving as deeply into harmonica as I can. Your site seems like a very interesting place to get various types of inspiration. I am definitely interested in the technical side of the game. So I look forward to keeping an eye on your blog. By the way I am in Dublin, Ireland

  9. Renee'

    January 7, 2017 - 4:09 pm

    Dear Sir, I’m so glad to have found this blog. I have been playing harmonica for two months. I’m pretty good at bending but am stuck figuring out what to do next. When I came across your train and pentatonic scale booklet something clicked. Your analogy of hands holding the bottom of the lungs gave me an ability to focus in on diaphragmatic breathing like I hadn’t before. Many thanks. Do you have any copies of the accompanying CD for sale please? Being able to listen and then repeat would be a tremendous help above and beyond the wonderful text you wrote. Sincerely, Renee’

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