Community Farm & Educational Centre
Revered as a master player, teacher, custom harmonica pioneer, researcher and historian, Joe Filisko is arguably the world’s foremost authority on many aspects of the diatonic harmonica and a key figure in today’s harmonica scene. Over the past 20 years he has had a tremendous influence on the developments in all aspects of the culture of the instrument. His much sought after custom harps are used by a truly remarkable roster of players and are prized for their superb response and tonal qualities by a client list that includes a large proportion of the world’s diatonic harmonica elite. Since the early 1990s, his groundbreaking work in improving the playability of the instrument has directly affected the production of all major harmonica manufacturers. In 2011 Joe Filisko entered into a close cooperation with Hohner as Head of Certification Process for the company’s new Affiliated Customizer Program, a bold move to guarantee standards for purchasers of custom harmonicas which is without precedent in the harmonica industry. He also made important design contributions to the latest model of Hohner’s Marine Band range, the Thunderbird, which bears his signature and has been cited as the finest low key harmonica available on the market today.
Fueled by his desire to preserve historical harmonica styles from extinction, Joe Filisko has amassed not only an encyclopedic knowledge of the entire gamut of traditional harmonica techniques, but has mastered them to an extent unrivaled among contemporary players. His passion for both the well-known and the unsung heroes of the 10 hole diatonic has made him a riveting performer in his own right, with a fluid command of a wide range of styles and possibly the most powerful hand effects ever heard. A master of tone and complex, nuanced tongue block rhythms, he has for many years shared his knowledge with students on five continents and so contributed enormously to the widespread understanding of traditional harmonica styles among a new generation of players.
In recent years, Joe’s reputation as a performer and recording artist has been catching up with his legendary status as a customizer and teacher. Since he first hooked up with guitarist/vocalist Eric Noden in 2003, the duo has released three highly regarded CDs and has performed at concerts and festivals around the globe. Reflecting their deep affinity with the tradition, their exciting explorations of seminal pre-war styles styles have won them an enthusiastic international audience and cemented their reputation as one of today’s premier acoustic country blues acts. Joe Filisko was awarded “Harmonica Player of the Year 2001” by the SPAH organization in the USA and performed at the induction of Grand Ol’ Opry star Deford Bailey into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006. Documentaries that feature Mr. Filisko include: “Harmonica Summit”, “Imagination is Limitless,” “In the Reeds,” “Tin Sandwich” and “Pocketful of Soul”. A native of Joliet, Illinois, Joe lives in the shadow of Chicago, the Windy City and performs there regularly as well as teaching popular weekly classes at the city’s Old Town School of Folk Music.
Though his work as a scholar and a craftsman have rightly earned him a place in the harmonica pantheon, it is as a player that he truly shines. Joe Filisko coaxes sounds from the harmonica which few before him have ever created and which open up new perspectives for countless players and lovers of this remarkable little instrument. -Steve Baker
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Andrew Zajac is a Hohner Affiliated Customizer. He loves the diatonic harmonica’s deep connection to the vocal tract. That connection allows a kind of expression no other instrument can achieve.
Andrew’s focus is to provide each player with remarkably responsive harmonicas which are carefully tailored to the player’s needs. He aims for exceptional customer satisfaction.
Andrew continuously refines his customization methods in search of ways to deepen the connection between the player and the instrument.
Andrew lives in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. He has a career background as a registered respiratory therapist and clinical perfusionist (heart-lung machine). Those disciplines have provided Andrew with useful knowledge of the science behind air flow, lung and vocal tract anatomy and physiology, evidence-based practice and continuous quality improvement (CQI) as well as the ability to reliably provide precise results while keeping a cool head and steady hands under pressure.
Bluesman AL LERMAN is a multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter. He was founder and leader of the 2X Juno Award winning band FATHEAD, and along the way built a solid career touring as an acoustic solo act, accompanying himself o n g u i t a r a n d r a c k harmonica. An engaging and skilled artist, his shows often feature humorous anecdotes interspersed between great blues songs. He is regarded among the top harmonica players in the country and his prowess on the instrument has earned him no less than ten Maple Blues Award nominations in that instrument category. He has been heard on countless recordings and live sessions with some of the best in the blues. In 2016 his standout "Slow Burn" disc made the esteemed world-wide list of Top 100 Blues Albums Of The Year. That same year he also garnered a Maple Blues Award nomination for "Acoustic Act Of The Year". In 2017 he received a Recognition Award for “Leadership In Arts & Culture” from the County of Peterborough. Side projects include the MAPLE BLUES BAND, the house band for the annual Maple Blues Awards show. They have backed guest performers such as Colin James, Shakura S’Aida, Paul Reddick, Duke Robillard and many more. GENIUS + SOUL, led by pianist Lance Anderson, celebrates the music of Ray Charles. Ray’s soulful repertoire gives Al’s big, Texasstyle tenor sax a chance to shine. Through the years, Al has also been active in sharing his harmonica skills, conducting harmonica workshops in schools, music camps and festivals. Very early on, Al was taken to hear SONNY TERRY & BROWNIE McGHEE at Toronto’s famed Riverboat coffeehouse. His interest in blues immediately sky-rocketed, and over the years he saw the duo no less than forty times. Moving into his twenties while playing in local Toronto blues bands, Al sought out many of his musical heroes, seeking both advice and inspiration. He considers himself fortunate to have sat in with blues giants such as MUDDY WATERS, WILLIE DIXON, SUNNYLAND SLIM and more. He became fast friends with Chicago harmonica player CAREY BELL who mentored him on the instrument. Hearing him now, there’s no doubt he learned his lessons well. A full-time musician for over forty years with an impressive catalogue of well crafted songs, Al casts a magical spell on his audience wherever he goes. www.allermanmusic.com
Jerome Godboo's been tearing up stages in Toronto for 30 years now. He's left a lasting impression on the psyche of his fans who will enthusiastically tell you of their “Godboo experience”. The local legend of explosive 90s rock band the Phantoms, Jerome’s bending harp skills continue to mesmerize all who witness him onstage, including the judges at the International Blues Challenge 2014 in Memphis where he took home the Best Harmonica Player Award. His talents have been sought by the likes of Ronnie Hawkins, Prince (who asked Jerome to join his band!) and Jeff Healey, who covers two of Jerome’s songs on his latest (posthumous) release. This is the 15th album of Jerome’s prolific outpouring of soul. And though his daily practice of Vipassana meditation grounds and soothes him, he springs to life with an other-worldly energy as he performs on stages mostly in Quebec and Ontario (including his regular Rex Hotel gig) and “playing for birthdays, weddings or funerals!”
“Jerome Godboo is a grinning gap toothed Jim Morrison type who commands a harmonica the way Jimi Hendrix once commanded a guitar”
The Globe & Mail
Roly Platt has enjoyed a long and rewarding career as both a live and studio harmonica player which spans 40 years. He has toured / recorded with many greats, including: David Clayton-Thomas, Matt Minglewood, Dutch Mason, Suzie Vinnick andRonnie Hawkins – always in the important supporting-role of "sideman". Taking centre-stage in 2014, Roly released his first solo album entitled "Inside Out" which has received extensive international airplay and critical acclaim.
Roly's distinctive sound, versatility, and intuitive sense of "what works", has elevated him to first-call harmonica player in the Canadian recording scene and he has been recorded on over 1,800 individual album cuts, movie scores and national jingles.
"The most versatile harp player I've ever worked with. Blues, Jazz, Country, he does it all." David Clayton-Thomas
• Multiple Maple Blues Awards nominee – "Harmonica Player of the Year"
• Two Double Platinum Record Credits
David Clayton-Thomas (3), Terri Clark, Suzie Vinnick (2), Susan Aglukark, The Ennis Sisters, George Canyon, Rick Fines, Matt Minglewood (3), Rita MacNeil, The Stampeders...
Soundtrack for Bollywood hit – Delhi Belly, Ron James (Sitcom pilot), Berenstain Bears, Franklin The Turtle, Rolie Polie Olie, Buffalo Girls, Stars on Ice...