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Jason Ricci amazes crowd at Front Row

Entertains patrons with unique harmonica style

January 20, 2008
By DAVE PAYNE Sr.
PARKERSBURG — Jason Ricci and New Blood performed to a packed house of dropped jaws at The Front Row Bar and Grill in Parkersburg Friday.

Ricci’s extremely unique harmonica style, vocals and remarkably energetic performance kept the crowd tapping their feet, swaying their heads and dancing throughout the show. Some who had planned to stay for only an hour were still there soaking it in when the show ended four-and-a-half hours later.

“It’s nothing short of amazing,” said Mineral Wells resident Denny Butcher. “He is one of the best players alive. What he does should be impossible and his stage presence is phenomenal.”

Steve Wells, vice president of The Blues, Jazz & Folk Music Society, said at age 33, Ricci has already become a legend.

“We don’t get a chance to have someone like Jason come through every day. It’s a treat to have him at a small, intimate venue. That really makes for an impressive show. He is one of the hottest guys on tour right now, it’s nice to catch him on a small stage,” Wells said.

Aaron Anderson, Belpre resident and former Ohio state harmonica champion, said he was mystified by the performance.

“It was incredible. He has one of the most radical styles I’ve ever heard. He feels everything that he plays. There’s something inside, it’s a part of his soul. I could never get tired of hearing it,” Anderson said.

Sandy Tucker of Belpre was also amazed.

“He’s doing things that seem impossible. He doesn’t play the harmonica. He totally is the harmonica,” she said.

By the time he was 21, Ricci had won the Sonny Boy Blues Society contest, had performed on the main stage at the King Biscuit Blues Festival, been featured on the Memphis evening news, and had worked with Susan Tedeschi, Billy Gibson and Bobby Little.

As a dynamic teenage prodigy, he was relatively new to the instrument, but developed his skills quickly through hard work and practice. The bluesman/rocker from Portland, Maine, started playing harmonica at the age of 14 and soon began studying the work of the harmonica masters, especially Little Walter.

Ricci prefers harmonicas tweaked and fine-tuned by Joe Spiers for optimum playing, as well as ones he has customized himself.

“There’s a big part of me that likes to fiddle with little parts. It’s like meditation after a little while, the more you know your instrument, the more of a player you are going to be. It is no coincidence the top customizers are the best players ever. It’s physics, you start thinking about why things do what they do. Then you get to the the bottom of those questions, it adds delicacy and nuance to your playing and intimacy in the true sense of the word,” Ricci said.

For more information, visit Ricci’s Web sites at http://www.jasonricci.com'>www.jasonricci.com and http://www.myspace.com/jasonricciandnewblood.'>www.myspace.com/jasonricciandnewblood.

Contact Dave Payne Sr. at

d'>dpayne@newsandsentinel.com'>dpayne@newsandsentinel.com

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