The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

November 28, 2013

Blues, brews and dueling harmonicas at Elk Creek

By Jeffrey Allen Federowicz
For The Daily Item

— MILLHEIM -- “This isn’t music about the dog running away, the wife leaving or losing the farm. That’s country music, not the blues.”

With a hearty laugh, blues musician and harmonica expert Steve Guyger, proceeded with his crash course on why the blues really aren’t that blue.

“There’s a huge misconception that the blues is sad or depressing music when in reality the music can be very upbeat and entertaining. The blues can cover any emotion from happiness to love,” he said.

This Saturday, Guyger will travel from his Bucks County home to the Elk Creek Café in Millheim to deliver a strong dose of the blues and to go head to head and harmonica to harmonica in a friendly harp showdown with noted music man Richard Sleigh.

“The show is going to be a lot of fun and a lot of good music. Richard is a very talented musician and an expert harmonica player,” Guyger said. “We’ll be doing mostly blues with a few songs that have rock and roll or jazz influence.”

Guyger noted the harmonica showdown is done in a friendly manner and not as two harmonica rivals trying to out perform the other.

The result is a fast-paced musical mash filled with both original tunes and covers that take the blues on a journey through all the different emotions and grooves.

With a four-piece band as back up, the harmonica due will take the audience on a musical ride filled with some of the best harmonica playing this side of the Mason-Dixon Line.

“Richard Sleigh is an interesting person and a great guy with a lot of different ideas,” said Guyger, who recently returned from a gig in Mexico. “Together we put on a fast-paced show that will keep the crowd wanting more. When it’s all over, we hope the crowd walks away feeling good and with the knowledge that the blues is not down or depressing music.

A regular performer at Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York City venues, Guyger, who began playing the harmonica in the late 1960s, is considered one of the finest harmonica players in the country and has performed with some of the best names in blues, including the late Jimmy Rogers.

Guyger’s style of playing combines his knowledge and skills for his instrument of choice with his strong passion for the blues.

Sleigh brings with him 40 years of experience that ranges from performing with symphonies to such national acts as Taj Mahal, Bo Diddley and Maria Muldaur, in addition to hosting harmonica workshops nationally and abroad.

Although Sleigh earned a degree in printmaking and drawing, he tried several occupations including deck hand, graphic designer and freelance artist, yet nothing satisfied him.

The harmonica kept returning as a focal point in his life and eventually lead him to become a musician.

“This will be a show you don’t see that often and feature some of the best blues music,” Guyger said. “How often can you hear two harmonica players and a terrific band playing excellent blues?”