Newspaper Archive of
Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
November 17, 2010     Feather River Bulletin
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November 17, 2010

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14B Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010 Bulletin, Progressive, Record, Reporter COVER, from page 13B "I'm glad I made it out of there," Zimmerman said. "I be- cause they wouldn't let me take my drums. They cut my hair and made me a soldier a year after I'd been at W(~lstock." Like many in his genera- tion, Zimmerman took up the guitar. "I'd been trying to learnto play the guitar for years, but I quit because I couldn't do it," Zimmerman said. "I just couldn't get my fingers to work." He said he'd seen the auto- harp for many years in the arms of John Sebastian of the Loving Spoonful, Brian Bow- ers and Evo Bluestein, and once he played one himself, he was hooked for life. Originally used as a rhythm instrument, playing methods for the autoharp have become more complicated over the years. Many modern musi- cians play melodies and even fiddle tunes on the autoharp. With something like 200 songs committed to memory, Zimmerman acknowledges he takes a somewhat unorthodox approach to the instrument. "I play what sounds good to me," Zimmerman said. "I learn a song, find a key I can sing it in and then rearrange it "I so I can do it the way I like St." That approach frustrates other players wl~ want to follow the original ! arrangement in the .origirm:L key. "I play the bass notes my thumb, the rhythm wit . my middle fingers and high melody notes with my pinky so it sounds ocm person playing several instJ-u- ments at the same time," Z m- merman said. Some autob.arp players take exception to Z 's unique approach to the in- strument. "They tell me Fm not doir g it right," an unabashedly un- apologetic ZimE rman said... "They use (thumb and fmge -) picks, but I play with my nails. Playing those 32 strings can like playing a cheese grater, and you can wear your frock:r- nails out quickly. You vcmld call it freestyle, I guess. I jus, l try to work a littte tune in ,!iith the instrumental part and p :ay what sounds good to me." No stranger to public formance, Zimmennan sai :l he appears at nightspots, fe,s- tivals and jam sessions ever the opportunity prese itself. He even took second place in a recent talent co r l- petition called Susanville's! Got Talent. "I like to play anyplace I can," Zimmerman said. "If there's an open mic or what- ever, I'm there." He recently purchased an a 21-button Legacy model auto- harp designed by Evo Bluestein, one of the instru- ment's most well-known mod- ern players. "I love this harp," Zimmer- man said. "It's electric, and when I plug it into a PA sys- tem, it sounds wonderful. It's like the difference between a Kay guitar and a Les Paul. It's a completely different instru- ment, the best I've ever had." Like many autoharp play- ers, Zimmerman's played the common Oscar Schmidt mod- els, but he said the Evoharp produces the sound he's been seeking. "This thing sounds like an angel sitting up there on one of those pods is playing it," Zimmerman said. Local autoharp player Kenny Joe Zimmerman shows off his new Legacy model Evoharp at a recent jam session held at Thunder Joe's on Main Street in Susanville. Zimmerman will soon be the subject Of a cover story in the magazine Auto- harp Quarterly. Photo by Sam Williams If you just can't quit there are stop smoking. Call Debbie Jones Today To Learn More At treatmen t options N :rlONAL to help you ~j • Skin Cancer Specialist • Skin Cancer Screening • Skin Cancer Surgery • Ache • Moles • Skin Diseases • Fruit Peels III Northeastern Health Center 1850 Spring Ridge Drive • Susanville 251-5000 II I II I 18 II I II I I ® ! ! 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