Top 5 Grammy Awards for Songs — With Harmonica

By Alex Paclin

Written by Alex Paclin on . Posted in Blog: Harmonica Articles, Harmonica Players

1. Johnny Winter feat. Jason Ricci (“My Babe”)

Bb harmonica, 2nd position, key of F

“Step Back” (by Johnny Winter).

Step Back is an album by blues guitarist and singer Johnny Winter that won the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Blues Album. It features Jason Ricci on the harmonica for the song “My Babe” and in fact many other world-wide famous musicians, like Eric Clapton, Dr. John, Billy Gibbons, Joe Perry, Brian Setzer and more. The album is full of gritty, soaring guitar, the kind of straightforward blues-rock style Winter has always been known for and he went out playing perhaps as well as he ever had, having learned the nuances of these classic blues songs inside out. “Step Back” also won the 2015 Blues Music Award for Best Rock Blues Album.

2. Charlie McCoy (“Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line”)

A harmonica, 2nd position, key of E

“The Real McCoy” (by Charlie McCoy).

The Real McCoy is an album by Charlie McCoy that won the 1972 Grammy award for the “Best Country Instrumental Performance”.  Based in Nashville, McCoy’s playing is heard on recordings by Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Chet Atkins, Waylon Jennings and Loretta Lynn. He has recorded thirty-seven studio albums. Thirteen of his singles have entered the Billboard country charts. In 2009, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

3. Flecktones feat. Howard Levy (“Sinister minister”)

C harmonica, 3rd position, Key of Dm

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-6 6 -5 -4   6 -6 6 4
7 -7 7 -7 7  6 -6 6  -6  -6’ 6 -5 -4

“Sinister Minister” (by Flecktones, “Bela Fleck & The Flecktones” album).

Sinister Minister is a song by Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, live version of which won the 1997 Grammy award for the “Best Pop Instrumental Performance”. It features the performance of Howard Levy on the harmonica, where he plays a theme with  long and haunting-like notes. 

The music video received heavy airplay on MTV and VH1 back in the early 90s. The video was so popular, it was featured on an episode of VH1’s Pop-Up Video and won a Grammy in 1997, despite it being a 1990 song.

4. Flecktones feat. Howard Levy (“Life in eleven”)

A harmonica, 2nd position, key of E

“Life In Eleven” (by Flecktones, “Rocket Science” album).

The song “Life in Eleven” won a 2011 grammy award for the “Best Instrumental Composition”. It was said that the Flecktones re-energized with Howard Levy coming back to the band. Rather than try to re-create the band’s old sound, the Flecktones push ever further into their own seamless, unclassifiable meld of jazz, progressive bluegrass, rock, classical, funk, and world music traditions on the Rocket Science album.

5. Pat Metheny feat. Gregoire Maret (“The Way Up”)

Chromatic harmonica

“The Way Up” (by The Pat Metheny Group).

Is an album by Pat Metheny group, that won a 2006 grammy award in the “Best Contemporary Jazz Album” category. It features Gregorie Maret on the chromatic harmonica and includes 5 compositions that seamlessly flow one into another. The album surely ranks among other albums of Pat in terms of overall ambition. It takes a step further, being a single 68-minute composition that is as compelling to listen to as it is complex and challenging to assess.

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