Friday, 24 February 2017

Friday Is Rock & Roll London day: Q&A Where Can I Buy A Harmonica? @MacarisLTD

Friday is Rock'n'Roll London Day! Join the Rock'n'Roll London walk this (and every Friday) afternoon at 2:00p.m meeting at Tottenham Court Road Station

DC Editor Adam writes about the Best Question EVER…

If anything typifies the Rock'n'Roll London Walk experience, it's questions. Lots and lots of questions.

A few examples…

Will we go to Abbey Road on the walk?

A: No, but The Beatles Walks do.

Will we be going near Freddie Mercury's house?

Not today (but I do have a Musical Kensington walk in the pipeline, plug, plug!)

Will we see David Bowie locations on the walk?

A: Yes, yes and yes. 

Will we be talking about Thelonious Monk?

This last one was posed by a lovely fella from Mozambique, with more than a twinkle in his eye. He knew he'd caught me out! But with just a little bit of research after the walk I found that Mr Monk had indeed played in London, making his debut at the Royal Festival Hall in April 1961.

That's one of the things I love about the Rock'n'Roll London Walk and all its questions: I learn stuff, too.

But the best question of all came last week, from two girls passing though London from Argentina on their way to Europe. They joined me on the Rock & Roll London Walk and asked…

"Where can we buy a harmonica?"

I knew just the place…

Macari's on Charing Cross Road has a great selection of harmonicas - indeed it's where I bought my last one, a Hohner blues harp in A…

I might even give you a blast of it one night in the Live Music section on the Rock & Roll London Pub Walk.

I go for Hohner because it was my grandfather's favourite make. "The Germans," he never tired of saying, "make the finest musical instruments in the world."

I always think of him when I see a picture of the early Beatles playing instruments made by Höfner, Ludwig, Gretsch and Rickenbaker.

Good enough for my grandad is good enough for The Beatles.

I keep his Hohner melodian to this day and give it a squeeze from time to time…

What you can't hear (mercifully) from the pic is my disjointed and asthmatic, yet grimly stoic attempt at Michael Row The Boat Ashore. The pout does not signify that I am lost in music. It's from EFFORT. Sweaty effort. There's such a lot going on with a melodian (keys, valves, bellows) that the effort of one verse and chorus of ol' Michael Row… gives me pain in the back of my thighs. It's not a pretty spectacle. 

Suffice to say I will NOT be giving you a blast of this in the Live Music section on the Rock & Roll London Pub Walk.

My grandfather was a multi-instrumentalist and played a Hohner chromatic harmonica - with a button slider that allows the player to play all 12 notes of the western chromatic scale and thus in any key. Larry Adler (Adler appears in an earlier post HERE) is the most famous player of such an instrument but my grandad's faves were The Harmonica Rascals

Here they are in action (about four mins in there is a joyful romp through Limehouse Blues)…

But back to Macari's…

Macari's has been going since the '50s and the Charing Cross Road branch has a great selection of Gob Irons (harmonicas) ranging in price from £11 for a starter, with a basic Hohner blues harp for around the £30. Very helpful staff too.

Their website is here:

I hope the gals from Argentina managed to get what they wanted at Macari's and that somewhere in Europe they are sleeping off a night of music, or wailing a low blues on a train.

In no particular order, here are 10 of my very favourite harmonica tunes…


Here's the trailer for the Rock'n'Roll London Walk…

The Rock'n'Roll London walk is ONLY London Walk with its own dedicated comic book! Written by Rock'n'Roll London guide (and Daily Constitutional editor Adam) you can buy a print copy or download at the London Bookstore online:

A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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