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IronMan Mike Curtis
IronMan Mike Curtis
North Hollywood, CA  USA
March 22, 2008
1,470 plays
I'm IronMan Mike Curtis. I sing and write songs. And I play electric harmonica, guitar, organ bass pedals ..... all three, all live, all me. Nothing prerecorded, nothing sequenced (well .... except an Alesis SR-16 drum machine I use when I don't have a drummer that doesn't object to having the beat punched in). I have video and more tunes on request. I play the harmonica-guitar-bass pedal three instrument combination as one instrument because I can only do one thing at a time. Harmonica guru Jon Gindick (who also plays guitar) coined the word "Guitarmonica" for the guitar and racked harmonica combination. So now I'm on the horns of a dilemma, trying to decide whether I play bastarmonica (that's a long A as in ace, not short as in donkey), basspeduitarmonica, harbasspeduitar, guitarmobass, or petarmonica. Thanks a lot, Jon ;) Some call me "One Man Band". That's why I often play bastarmonica with other musicians. Drums, percussion, a second guitarist, sax, and once with TWO other harmonica players, Winslow Yerxa (harmonica player extraordinaire, publisher of Harmonica Informational Press) and Harmonica John Fraser. And yes, it sounded good! The secret? We listened to each other, and thought like a horn section. Harmonies, comping, and laying out whenever we had nothing to add.
Band/artist history
I was born in a log cabin I built with my own hands, although most log cabins are made of logs. I killed a bear when I was three. The cotton stuffing was everywhere. I walked to school 40 miles each way, barefoot, uphill both ways, naked, in the rain. The school was 2 blocks away. I was terrible at reading maps back then. At 18, I wanted to join an Indian tribe. I was given three tests: 1. Drink a gallon of whisky, 2. Kill a grizzly bear, and 3. Make love to an Indian woman. I drank the whisky and proceeded into the woods. I returned 3 hours later, torn to shreds. I said "OK - now where's that Indian woman ya want me to kill?" I took up harmonica, guitar, and organ bass pedals three days ago, and practiced a HARD five minutes every day. My hard work paid off, and now I'm a world famous blues star.
Have you performed in front of an audience?
I'm currently in studio, so nothing at the moment, but I (or we) will be hitting the local clubs soon, and a tour (probably solo) is in the works, to support a new CD or DVD. You can help. Know of a venue that might book a decent single (or with a local drummer, etc.)? Or cheap/free accommodations, a spare room, or lunch/dinner invite? A horny hoochie with the hots for harp players or who'd like to hump the whole band but can't handle more'n one hot handsome hirsute hunk? A gaggle of groupies so I can disappoint several women at once?
Your musical influences
Jazzy blues with a dash of funk. Think "Miles Davis on Charlie Musselwhites C harmonica, Kenny Burrell meets Ronnie Earl, Elvis and Johnny Cash tangle with John Lee Hooker in Muddy's basement, Groove Holmes' funky kicked organ bass, with a side of Jimmy Reed". Big Jay McNeely (who I worked with many years), Miles Davis, John Lee Hooker, Charlie Musselwhite, Muddy Waters, Lemon Jefferson, Jimmy Reed, Hank Crawford, Walter Trout, P-Funk, Ronnie Earl, Cornell Dupree, Elvis Presley, Louis Jordan, Wynonie Harris, Red Archibald, lots more. I generally don't copy (except for tributes). I steal. "Copy" is to render a record perfect copy. "Steal" (in this context an honorable thing for musicians) is to take a little of this, a dash of that, a lagniappe of something else, and fashion these into an original work. In this way I hope to honor those whose music has moved me to play, perform, and create.
What equipment do you use?
Customized Fender Coronado guitar with a pair of Carvin Holdsworth dual coil pickups, series/parallel switches, and custom electronics, and a Roland GK3 hex pickup into a Roland GR33 guitar synth (it has great piano and organ patches), a C major diatonic Lee Oskar harmonica (which I play chromatically, in all keys), homebrew racked harmonica microphone, Roland PK5 bass pedals (and sometimes two when I want that extra octave) and Korg X5DR sound module, Line6 POD (guitar), Digitech RP-100 (for harmonica; it has a great pitch shifter for an octave below), and variously, Music Man 112RD 100 guitar amp, Kendrick 40 watt all tube custom harp amp (2x 6L6GC's, 4x 12AX7's, 2x 5AR4 rectifiers, 1x 12" and 1x 10" speakers in a tweed enclosure - it's LOUD and feedback resistant due to an assymetrical output), Carvin StageMate PA for smaller venues, Carvin CP600 and Yamaha EMX660 PA's with Carvin 973 or 610 cabs, Shure SM87 and AKG C1000S vocal mics, Hartke Kickback 15 and/or Peavey MkIII 300 watt bass head and 115BX cab as a floor firing subwoofer, a large Carlsen bass enclosure, a tall 2x15" bass reflex cab, and lots more. I'm building a Leslie (just the rotary horn, variable speed motor, and 20 watt amp - I'll use an emulator into the PA for lows) for the organ patches, or whatever. Harmonica thru a Leslie is amazing, as is guitar, in moderation.