Gary Primich

A Musician’s Review

Experiencing Gary Primich on a studio recording versus a live performance were two completely different worlds. There are a handful of Harp Summit related recordings, with him live, that are still available, but this is the closest thing to a being-there GARY PRIMICH BAND experience. And, this package fuses, for the first time, the studio and stage worlds together.

It must be strictly noted that all of the musicians backing Gary Primich on this release were not part of his regular American touring band. They were specifically chosen to back him during several of his European tours of Finland. There are three different musical groups from Finland backing Gary in three separate sections that span the years from 1991 to 2006. The performances were all recorded live in Finland. The two studio tracks and the non-musical spoken word track were also recorded in Finland. The depth of musicianship from all the players on these tracks adds to the beauty of this disc. They are all top-line performers catching the nuances and qualities of Gary’s unique characteristics. It’s not uncommon for Blue’s artists to travel without a band and use regional players. But being able to acquire a group of highly skilled musicians who are also well-versed in the genre is a little more difficult to achieve. All of these players are so top-notch that they allow Gary to perform with the same ease that he drew from his Stateside band!

Esa Kuloniemi’s 2006 studio recordings of THE HITMAN and GARY, INDIANA leaves clues about where Gary might have been heading with the harmonica as an instrument. The first listen may come as a surprise for those familiar only with Gary’s blues recordings. Indeed, he was all about deep, meaningful, soulful, playing. But these tracks seem to push his sound somewhere new. They may also leave the listener with a distracted sadness that the music world has been robbed of a rare talent since his passing in 2007.

Gary’s remaining live musical performances on the CD with the two bands THE WENTUS BLUES BAND and HONEY B & THE T-BONES give the listener all the joy of a true Gary Primich live performance. All of Gary’s live gig trademarks are in these songs! They are strong and right up front! With all of the musicians giving solid support, Gary delivers! It’s obvious by the musical communication between Gary and each musician that these performances were not just-jump-on-the-stage-and-hope-to-get-through-the-set. The musical backing is honest and solid. It’s a treat to have THINK IT OVER and SADIE included in this package as well as a number of live Primich staples that were a part of his shows for years.

Closing track #14 is Gary speaking about himself. This is the most crucial part of the package. It gets into the thinking of Gary’s approach to music. It’s educational to hear his commentary for anyone interested in learning more for his or her own musical growth. Gary was a teacher and was genuinely interested in helping others attain a personal best. His one-on-one teaching approach motivated students to develop their own musical identity, not stroke their egos.

One more thing. The opening harmonica intro to BEEN AROUND THE WORLDI MY BACK SCRATCHER is worth this disc alone. Just listen!

This release, an offering of deep respect from Gary’s Finnish friends, will stand as a strong testament to the playing and technical aspects of what made Gary Primich such a rarity in the Blues, or any musical genre. It will serve as a study tool for the musician, student, and fan of the harmonica for years to come.

Many people have asked, “How can we preserve Gary’s music and legacy?” Listen to this disc, share your thoughts, and talk about it alongside releases from his broader catalog. By doing this Gary Primich will continue to generate interest through many fans and musicians worldwide. He is not only unforgettable as a musician and a teacher but as a genuine person who cared about the future of the Blues, and the Harmonica as an instrument.

Finally, for the record, even when he was on tour in Europe, Gary Primich without fail, made sure the van had its oil changed every 3,000 miles!

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