Seth Shumate – Oldtime Harmonica


“I’m a harmonica player with a focus on pre-war styles of harmonica from old-time, country blues, early blues, and jug band music. I come from a broken line of harmonica players including his grandfather and great-grandmother, both born and raised in the Ozarks of Arkansas. Arkansas has its share of harmonica in stringband music: The Arkansas Barefoot Boys, Luke Highnight and his Ozark Strutters, and Lonnie Glosson. The styles I strive to perfect for adapting fiddle tunes to harmonica come from Kyle Wooten, The Crook Brothers, DeFord Bailey, and Bob Cranford of the Red Fox Chasers.         

Just over a decade ago, I joined the old-time stringband Shout Lulu which, at the time, was composed of Paul and Skye McGowan on banjo and baritone Ukulele and Pete Howard on fiddle. I recorded a few tracks on their second album “Ridin’ a Buggy”. Through Paul and Skye, I was introduced to curly Miller and Carole Anne Rose of The Old 78s and made a cameo appearance on their CD “The Women Wear No Clothes at All.” I began to accompany the banjo player and entertainer extraodinaire Clarke Buehling with my harmonica playing and one bright morning at the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market, we joined forces with Roy Pilgrim and Aviva Steigmeyer to form the Ozark Highballers. Within the year we recorded the self-titled CD debut. Our second album is coming out soon with Jalopy Records and is entitled “Going down to ‘Leven Point.”

I also dabble in the history of harmonica in America during the instrument’s golden age from 1840-1940. I’ll be writing articles and curating old recordings and harmonica history pieces via Oldtime Central this upcoming year. For those looking for more immediate satisfaction, you can find I have posted dozens of solo harmonica on my self-named Youtube Channel in hopes of making this style of harmonica more accessible. I teach Skype lessons upon request and will be teaching at the Society for the Preservation and Advancement of Harmonica’s annual convention.”

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