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“Paul Oscher plays the
  soul I feel”
Muddy Waters

“Paul Oscher’s a monster: harp, piano, and guitar—plays slide like Muddy.” James Cotton

“A legend… a musician’s musician. When I saw him working with Muddy Waters
and Otis Spann, it was the toughest band I’d ever seen… an inspiration.”
Rick Estrin of Little Charlie & the Nitecats

“Classic Chicago Blues… his blues has the bite and gravity of the tradition he upholds.” John Pareles, The New York Times

“…a deep satisfying blues experience.” Critics Choice, Billboard

“You can hear Muddy in his guitar, and Otis Spann in the piano, but the overriding sensation is of Oscher at the height of his powers and maturity. This is a man who has spent his life steeped in a blues tradition, and it
shows.”
Juke Blues (U.K.)

“He’s got all my respect.” William Clark

“The most natural musician I know.” Jerry Portnoy, harp with Muddy Waters & Eric Clapton

“The first guy that I ever met who could really play the harp, he used tongue
blocking before any of his contemporaries.”
Magic Dick

“Muddy Water’s album Live at Mr. Kelly’s, featuring Paul Oscher on harmonica was one of the first blues albums I purchased when I was in high school. His
harmonica playing has been inspirational and I admire the road he has traveled. He paved the way for all the blues harmonica players of my generation.”
Bob Corritore, harp player & owner of The Rhythm Room, Phoenix, Arizona

“No one on the scene can beat his low-down harp tone, his ability to summon
Muddy’s spirit in his slide guitar playing, and his blue note piano technique. He’s right where he’s always been: smack in the middle of the real unadulterated blues.”
Kim Field, Author of Harmonicas, Harps, and Heavy Breathers

“…If you like the real thing, that is the blues played without compromise: Paul Oscher’s ‘Down In The Delta’ should be in your CD player right now.” Sing Out!

"A must for devotees and players."  Knight Rider wire service

“Paul Oscher not only channels the guitar sound of Muddy Waters, piano of Otis Spann, and the deepest toned blues harp this side of Big Walter Horton, he’s also a fine songwriter in the classic blues tradition. Oscher is one of a kind.” Scott Dirks, Author, Little Walter biography, Blues With A Feeling

“Paul Oscher’s blues are deep as the Delta soil. With just a guitar, a slide, a harmonica and his voice, Oscher rekindles the fire, soul and spirit of the music of the late, great Muddy Waters.” Ted Drozdowski, The Boston Phoenix, Tower Pulse!, Guitar World, and winner 1998 Keeping the Blues Alive in Journalism Award

“Paul Oscher carries the soul of Muddy Waters in his music, he deserves wider recognition as a superb musician, singer and songwriter.” Sandra Tooze,  Author of Mojo Man biography of Muddy Waters

“He seems to be channeling the riffs straight from Blues Heaven.” Blue Suede News

“One of the best authentic blues albums of the year.” Andy Grigg Real Blues Magazine

“When I saw we had booked a solo performer, I wondered how he would get over with our band crowd, but when I saw all the best Blues musicians in Toronto
in the audience I knew we had something special. Paul sounded like a whole band and played all those instruments. He rocked the house. People are still talking about it.“
Michelle Gebhart, Silver Dollar, Toronto

“It’s not simply multi-instrumental wizardry or cross-genre mastery that
makes Alone with the Blues so impressive: Oscher simply has that deep blues feeling... instrumental triple threat…impressive stylistic range… a tonal tour de force...”
Tom Hyslop Blues Revue

“This CD should remind folks of Paul Oscher’s stature in the Blues world; he’s long overdue in being recognized for his soulful talents on harp, guitar, piano, vocals, and songwriting… That said, this album is testimony to a Bluesy soul indeed…” Blueswax

“Paul Oscher’s ‘Alone with the Blues’ show is one of the best solo Blues shows out there today. Amazing that one guy can cover so many bases. Everyone wants to know when he’s coming back and my response is as soon as possible.” Gary Erwin, Producer Low Country Blues Bash and Carolina Down Home Blues Festival

“Few artists in the blues field—black or white—could pull off a record of this range and consistent quality.” Scott Barretta Living Blues

“He’s been impressing fans and critics alike for a long while with his multi-instrumentalist abilities, songwriting talent and sinewy yet sincere vocals… blues at its best.” Gary von Tersch, Big City Blues

“When I first picked up the harmonica as a 16-year-old I learned to blow the blues by jamming along with a record called Mississippi Mandolin featuring Chicago bluesman Johnny Young and a guy named Paul Oscher. Good revivalist harp players are plentiful these days, but few have actually lived the old
school life that Paul lived… working the roughest part of the chitlin circuit with musicians who all packed handguns. Paul has always had what I call the sound, which is to say he knows how to squeeze snake oil and barbecue grease out of every note in true Southside style, the scary thing is he keeps getting better. As anybody who saw his solo set at last summer’s Blues 2000 Festival can attest, Paul isn’t just a terror on diatonic, chromatic, and unaccompanied bass harp, but he plays Muddy Waters’ style slide and thumb-picked guitar with more jaw dropping authenticity than any guitar player currently on the scene. He doesn’t just recreate Muddy’s style: he re-inhabits it, makes it his own, and takes you back. His singular talent is finally getting its due. It’s about damned time, as they say.”
Adam Gussow, Author of Mr. Satan’s Apprentice, harmonica player in duo Satan and Adam, and writer for Blues Access

“The overwhelming essence of what (Paul) does is play blues with a power to move mountains and give faith there is magic to be found in the spirit of one man. Consider Alone with the Blues as the pure evidence of that pursuit… Because of all the nights he spent so close to the source with Waters, Spann and the other Chicago originators, he bears down on the songs in a way that  gets as near to the blood as anyone out there now, conveying their daring truths with a shivering strength… Let’s color Paul Oscher phenomenal, and leave it at that.” Bill Bentley, Studio City Sun

“Paul Oscher plays the
  soul I feel”
Muddy Waters

“Paul Oscher’s a monster: harp, piano, and guitar—plays slide like Muddy.” James Cotton

“A legend… a musician’s musician. When I saw him working with Muddy Waters
and Otis Spann, it was the toughest band I’d ever seen… an inspiration.”
Rick Estrin of Little Charlie & the Nitecats

“Classic Chicago Blues… his blues has the bite and gravity of the tradition he upholds.” John Pareles, The New York Times

“…a deep satisfying blues experience.” Critics Choice, Billboard

“You can hear Muddy in his guitar, and Otis Spann in the piano, but the overriding sensation is of Oscher at the height of his powers and maturity. This is a man who has spent his life steeped in a blues tradition, and it
shows.”
Juke Blues (U.K.)

“He’s got all my respect.” William Clark

“The most natural musician I know.” Jerry Portnoy, harp with Muddy Waters & Eric Clapton

“The first guy that I ever met who could really play the harp, he used tongue
blocking before any of his contemporaries.”
Magic Dick

“Muddy Water’s album Live at Mr. Kelly’s, featuring Paul Oscher on harmonica was one of the first blues albums I purchased when I was in high school. His
harmonica playing has been inspirational and I admire the road he has traveled. He paved the way for all the blues harmonica players of my generation.”
Bob Corritore, harp player & owner of The Rhythm Room, Phoenix, Arizona

“No one on the scene can beat his low-down harp tone, his ability to summon
Muddy’s spirit in his slide guitar playing, and his blue note piano technique. He’s right where he’s always been: smack in the middle of the real unadulterated blues.”
Kim Field, Author of Harmonicas, Harps, and Heavy Breathers

“…If you like the real thing, that is the blues played without compromise: Paul Oscher’s ‘Down In The Delta’ should be in your CD player right now.” Sing Out!

"A must for devotees and players."  Knight Rider wire service

“Paul Oscher not only channels the guitar sound of Muddy Waters, piano of Otis Spann, and the deepest toned blues harp this side of Big Walter Horton, he’s also a fine songwriter in the classic blues tradition. Oscher is one of a kind.” Scott Dirks, Author, Little Walter biography, Blues With A Feeling

“Paul Oscher’s blues are deep as the Delta soil. With just a guitar, a slide, a harmonica and his voice, Oscher rekindles the fire, soul and spirit of the music of the late, great Muddy Waters.” Ted Drozdowski, The Boston Phoenix, Tower Pulse!, Guitar World, and winner 1998 Keeping the Blues Alive in Journalism Award

“Paul Oscher carries the soul of Muddy Waters in his music, he deserves wider recognition as a superb musician, singer and songwriter.” Sandra Tooze,  Author of Mojo Man biography of Muddy Waters

“He seems to be channeling the riffs straight from Blues Heaven.” Blue Suede News

“One of the best authentic blues albums of the year.” Andy Grigg Real Blues Magazine

“When I saw we had booked a solo performer, I wondered how he would get over with our band crowd, but when I saw all the best Blues musicians in Toronto
in the audience I knew we had something special. Paul sounded like a whole band and played all those instruments. He rocked the house. People are still talking about it.“
Michelle Gebhart, Silver Dollar, Toronto

“It’s not simply multi-instrumental wizardry or cross-genre mastery that
makes Alone with the Blues so impressive: Oscher simply has that deep blues feeling... instrumental triple threat…impressive stylistic range… a tonal tour de force...”
Tom Hyslop Blues Revue

“This CD should remind folks of Paul Oscher’s stature in the Blues world; he’s long overdue in being recognized for his soulful talents on harp, guitar, piano, vocals, and songwriting… That said, this album is testimony to a Bluesy soul indeed…” Blueswax

“Paul Oscher’s ‘Alone with the Blues’ show is one of the best solo Blues shows out there today. Amazing that one guy can cover so many bases. Everyone wants to know when he’s coming back and my response is as soon as possible.” Gary Erwin, Producer Low Country Blues Bash and Carolina Down Home Blues Festival

“Few artists in the blues field—black or white—could pull off a record of this range and consistent quality.” Scott Barretta Living Blues

“He’s been impressing fans and critics alike for a long while with his multi-instrumentalist abilities, songwriting talent and sinewy yet sincere vocals… blues at its best.” Gary von Tersch, Big City Blues

“When I first picked up the harmonica as a 16-year-old I learned to blow the blues by jamming along with a record called Mississippi Mandolin featuring Chicago bluesman Johnny Young and a guy named Paul Oscher. Good revivalist harp players are plentiful these days, but few have actually lived the old
school life that Paul lived… working the roughest part of the chitlin circuit with musicians who all packed handguns. Paul has always had what I call the sound, which is to say he knows how to squeeze snake oil and barbecue grease out of every note in true Southside style, the scary thing is he keeps getting better. As anybody who saw his solo set at last summer’s Blues 2000 Festival can attest, Paul isn’t just a terror on diatonic, chromatic, and unaccompanied bass harp, but he plays Muddy Waters’ style slide and thumb-picked guitar with more jaw dropping authenticity than any guitar player currently on the scene. He doesn’t just recreate Muddy’s style: he re-inhabits it, makes it his own, and takes you back. His singular talent is finally getting its due. It’s about damned time, as they say.”
Adam Gussow, Author of Mr. Satan’s Apprentice, harmonica player in duo Satan and Adam, and writer for Blues Access

“The overwhelming essence of what (Paul) does is play blues with a power to move mountains and give faith there is magic to be found in the spirit of one man. Consider Alone with the Blues as the pure evidence of that pursuit… Because of all the nights he spent so close to the source with Waters, Spann and the other Chicago originators, he bears down on the songs in a way that  gets as near to the blood as anyone out there now, conveying their daring truths with a shivering strength… Let’s color Paul Oscher phenomenal, and leave it at that.” Bill Bentley, Studio City Sun

“Paul Oscher plays the
  soul I feel”
Muddy Waters

“Paul Oscher’s a monster: harp, piano, and guitar—plays slide like Muddy.” James Cotton

“A legend… a musician’s musician. When I saw him working with Muddy Waters
and Otis Spann, it was the toughest band I’d ever seen… an inspiration.”
Rick Estrin of Little Charlie & the Nitecats

“Classic Chicago Blues… his blues has the bite and gravity of the tradition he upholds.” John Pareles, The New York Times

“…a deep satisfying blues experience.” Critics Choice, Billboard

“You can hear Muddy in his guitar, and Otis Spann in the piano, but the overriding sensation is of Oscher at the height of his powers and maturity. This is a man who has spent his life steeped in a blues tradition, and it
shows.”
Juke Blues (U.K.)

“He’s got all my respect.” William Clark

“The most natural musician I know.” Jerry Portnoy, harp with Muddy Waters & Eric Clapton

“The first guy that I ever met who could really play the harp, he used tongue
blocking before any of his contemporaries.”
Magic Dick

“Muddy Water’s album Live at Mr. Kelly’s, featuring Paul Oscher on harmonica was one of the first blues albums I purchased when I was in high school. His
harmonica playing has been inspirational and I admire the road he has traveled. He paved the way for all the blues harmonica players of my generation.”
Bob Corritore, harp player & owner of The Rhythm Room, Phoenix, Arizona

“No one on the scene can beat his low-down harp tone, his ability to summon
Muddy’s spirit in his slide guitar playing, and his blue note piano technique. He’s right where he’s always been: smack in the middle of the real unadulterated blues.”
Kim Field, Author of Harmonicas, Harps, and Heavy Breathers

“…If you like the real thing, that is the blues played without compromise: Paul Oscher’s ‘Down In The Delta’ should be in your CD player right now.” Sing Out!

"A must for devotees and players."  Knight Rider wire service

“Paul Oscher not only channels the guitar sound of Muddy Waters, piano of Otis Spann, and the deepest toned blues harp this side of Big Walter Horton, he’s also a fine songwriter in the classic blues tradition. Oscher is one of a kind.” Scott Dirks, Author, Little Walter biography, Blues With A Feeling

“Paul Oscher’s blues are deep as the Delta soil. With just a guitar, a slide, a harmonica and his voice, Oscher rekindles the fire, soul and spirit of the music of the late, great Muddy Waters.” Ted Drozdowski, The Boston Phoenix, Tower Pulse!, Guitar World, and winner 1998 Keeping the Blues Alive in Journalism Award

“Paul Oscher carries the soul of Muddy Waters in his music, he deserves wider recognition as a superb musician, singer and songwriter.” Sandra Tooze,  Author of Mojo Man biography of Muddy Waters

“He seems to be channeling the riffs straight from Blues Heaven.” Blue Suede News

“One of the best authentic blues albums of the year.” Andy Grigg Real Blues Magazine

“When I saw we had booked a solo performer, I wondered how he would get over with our band crowd, but when I saw all the best Blues musicians in Toronto
in the audience I knew we had something special. Paul sounded like a whole band and played all those instruments. He rocked the house. People are still talking about it.“
Michelle Gebhart, Silver Dollar, Toronto

“It’s not simply multi-instrumental wizardry or cross-genre mastery that
makes Alone with the Blues so impressive: Oscher simply has that deep blues feeling... instrumental triple threat…impressive stylistic range… a tonal tour de force...”
Tom Hyslop Blues Revue

“This CD should remind folks of Paul Oscher’s stature in the Blues world; he’s long overdue in being recognized for his soulful talents on harp, guitar, piano, vocals, and songwriting… That said, this album is testimony to a Bluesy soul indeed…” Blueswax


GO TO...

News

Paul Oscher wins TWO Blues Music Awards >>

Paul Oscher Gets Down In The Delta >>

Top Ten Handy List >>

Paul Oscher Alone with the Blues >>

Paul Oscher Has Paid His Dues >>

Live performance reviews

Waterfront Blues Fest, Portland >>

BamBoo Room, Lake Worth, FL >>

CD reviews

Alone With The Blues CD Quotes >>

Blues Revue >>

Blues Bytes >>

Studio City Sun >>

Music City Blues Society >>

Central Iowa Blues Society >>

Big City Blues >>

BluesWax >>

Living Blues >>

Review from Spain >>


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Paul Oscher wins TWO Blues Music Awards

Blues singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter PAUL OSCHER is the winner of two 2006 BLUES MUSIC AWARDS: "ACOUSTIC ARTIST OF THE YEAR" and "ACOUSTIC ALBUM OF THE YEAR" for his acclaimed 2005 release "Down In The Delta". The Blues Music Awards was held May 11, 2006 at the Cook Convention Center in Memphis.

For over two decades, the Blues Music Awards (previously the W.C. Handy Awards) have celebrated excellence in performance and recording of the blues. A panel of international blues industry experts vote on the initial nominees and thirty thousand blues fans choose the winners. For more information about the Blues Foundation and the Blues Music Awards, visit www.blues.org.

"...harmonica virtuoso Paul Oscher is a veteran of the Muddy Waters band and the album is reminiscent of Waters' formative Mississippi blues...sharp musicianship and feel. His uncomplicated approach yields a deep satisfying blues experience." (Billboard)

"...Paul Oscher can blow some serious harp. He's had that ability ever since he was a Brooklyn teenager, when he used his ability...to become the first full-time white member of Muddy Water's band. But Oscher should win new respect for his talents as a vocalist, guitarist, pianist and melodica player with 'Down In The Delta'." (Chicago Sun-Times)

Paul Oscher first came to national attention as Muddy Waters' harmonica player from 1967-1972 (following in the footsteps of Little Walter, Junior Wells, James Cotton and Big Walter Horton). The first white musician to become a full-time member of a world-class black blues band, Muddy treated Oscher like a son. Oscher shared the basement in Muddy's house on Chicago's Southside with the great Otis Spann. Working alongside Muddy Waters, Otis Spann, Sammy Lawhorn, Pee Wee Madison and S.P. Leary, Oscher learned deep Blues phrasing and timing. He learned to play slide guitar from Muddy—literally by looking over Muddy's shoulder—and piano from Otis Spann.

With the Muddy Waters Blues Band, Oscher toured the US and abroad and played a range of venues from the rough and tumble juke joints of the chitlin' circuit to the major concert stages of the world. During that time he backed up blues luminaries including John Lee Hooker, Earl Hooker, Son House, Fred McDowell, Lightning Hopkins, T-Bone Walker, Albert King, Magic Sam and Big Mama Thornton. Oscher recorded a number of albums with Muddy for the legendary Chess Records label.

Paul Oscher has recorded with Otis Spann, Johnny Young, Johnny Copeland, Victoria Spivey, Big Bill Morganfield and Mos Def and others. Paul is featured on harmonica, guitar and vocal on Hubert Sumlin's Grammy-nominated/2006 Blues Music Awards winning album "About Them Shoes" along with Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Levon Helm.

Nowadays, multi-instrumentalist Oscher performs primarily as a solo artist or in a trio setting. There are only a handful of artists left that can carry on the tradition of the deep blues and Paul Oscher's one of them. "When I was a young man I played other peoples blues. Now that I'm older, I write and play my own and when I play a blues classic, I put my own stamp on it. And I always keep that lowdown and lonesome feelin' I learned in Muddy Waters' band—I like to keep it real and in the moment."

In 2001, Paul Oscher moved from New York to L.A. with his wife, playright and novelist, Suzan-Lori Parks (the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in the drama category, for her play Topdog/Underdog 2002). Encouraged by his wife, Paul is writing down his experiences in the blues. Excerpts from his forthcoming book "Alone with the Blues" have already been published in the companion book to the PBS series "Martin Scorcese Presents The Blues".

Paul has spent over 40 years playing the blues, yet he is humbled by those experiences. "I always try to thank the high power. The real gift of talent is not the ability to be able to play, it is the gift of the love you have for the music. That's what takes you over the hurdles."

"...fine guitar, piano and exceptional harmonica. Seldom has a performer seemed so comfortable with the music he plays...If you like the real thing, that is the blues played without compromise: Paul Oscher's 'Down In The Delta' should be in your CD player right now." (Sing Out!)

"...Paul Oscher services classic electric and acoustic blues styles with uncommon precision and heart on the cut-live, no overdubs 'Down in the Delta' (Blues Fidelity), a must for devotees and players. A " (Knight Ridder wire service) "an authentic Delta blues treat." (Scripps Howard News Service)

"Down In The Delta" is distributed by Burnside Distribution.


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Paul Oscher Gets Down In The Delta
ON BLUES FIDELITY JULY 12, 2005

"Paul Oscher's blues are deep as the Delta soil. With just a guitar, a slide, a harmonica and his voice, Oscher rekindles the fire, soul and spirit of the music of the late, great Muddy Waters." - Ted Drozdowski, Boston Phoenix

Blues singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, PAUL OSCHER's "DOWN IN THE DELTA" (Blues Fidelity/JULY 12, 2005) was recorded live "the old school way" - with no overdubs - and features Oscher on vocals, harmonica, guitar, piano and melodica with special guests including LEVON HELM (drums), WILLIE "BIG EYES" SMITH (drums), CALVIN JONES (bass) and DAVID MAXWELL (piano). "DOWN IN THE DELTA" captures the no frills, down-in-the-alley, gutbucket, lowdown and lonesome deep blues - of Oscher's live performances.

"...his blues has the bite and gravity of the tradition he upholds." --Jon Pareles, The New York Times

Paul Oscher first came to national attention as Muddy Waters' harmonica player from 1967 -1972 (following in the footsteps of Little Walter, Junior Wells, James Cotton and Big Walter Horton). The first white musician to become a full-time member of a world-class black blues band, Muddy treated Oscher like a son. Oscher shared the basement in Muddy's southside Chicago home with the great Otis Spann. Working alongside Muddy Waters, Otis Spann, Sammy Lawhorn, Pee Wee Madison and S.P. Leary, Oscher learned deep Blues phrasing and timing. He learned to play slide guitar from Muddy -- literally by looking over Muddy's shoulder -- and piano from Otis Spann.

"I certainly draw from the time I was on the road with Muddy and the experiences I had living on the southside. I give thanks everyday for that - it's the biggest gift of my life and it's given me my foundation..." - Paul Oscher

Brooklyn, New York native Paul Oscher started playing the blues at the age of twelve when his uncle gave him a harmonica. By the time he was fifteen, he had hooked up with guitarist/singer Little Jimmy Mae and was playing professionally in soul revues at black clubs around NYC including the Baby Grand, The 521 Cub, Seville Lounge and the Nitecap.

Still in his early teens, Oscher met Muddy Waters back stage at the Apollo Theatre in the mid-l960's. A couple years later, Muddy came to New York without a harp player. Oscher sat in with the band and played two numbers:"Baby Please Don't Go" and "Blow Winds Blow." Muddy hired him on the spot.

With the Muddy Waters Blues Band, Oscher toured the US and abroad and played a range of venues from the rough and tumble juke joints of the chitlin' circuit to the major concert stages of the world. During that time he backed up blues luminaries John Lee Hooker, Earl Hooker, Son House, Fred McDoweIl, Lightning Hopkins, T-Bone Walker, Albert King, Magic Sam and Big Mama Thornton. Oscher recorded a number of albums with Muddy for the legendary Chess Records label.

Paul Oscher toured with Muddy's band till late 1971 when he left to form his own band under the name Brooklyn Slim. In 1976, he toured Europe with Louisiana Red and continued fronting his own band in the New York area in addition to backing up Big Joe Turner, Doc Pomus, Victoria Spivey, Big Walter Horton and Johnny Copeland.

In the '80s, Oscher quit music and got a day job. But the blues kept calling and in 1992 he hooked up with piano players David Maxwell and Bob Gaddy and his old drummer Candy McDonald and started playing again. Still performing under the moniker Brooklyn Slim, Oscher recorded for Mojo Productions and Lollipop Records. In 1994, Paul toured the US with Jimmy Rogers and the Muddy Waters Tribute Band.

In 1995 Oscher released his first solo CD, "The Deep Blues of Paul Oscher" for Blues Planet Records. His follow-up "Knockin' on the Devils' Door" (Viceroy Records) received a W.C. Handy Award nomination. In 2000, Paul Oscher received the L.A. Music Award for "Outstanding Blues Artist of the Year." Oscher's "Alone with the Blues" (2004/Electro-Fi Records), was nominated for four 2005 W.C. Handy Awards: "Acoustic Blues Album of the Year", "Blues Song of the Year", "Acoustic Blues Artist of the Year" and"Instrumentalist of the Year - Harmonica".

Paul Oscher appears on Mos Def's release "New Danger" (October 2004) and is a featured guest on The Mannish Boys CD on Delta Groove (November 2004). Oscher appears on Mark Hummel and Johnny Dyer's Muddy Waters tribute CD " Rollin' Fork Revisited" (Mountain Top Records/November 2004) and is featured on the January 2005 Hubert Sumlin release "About them Shoes" (Tone Cool/ Artemis) along with Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and Levon Helm.

Nowadays, multi-instrumentalist Oscher performs primarily as a solo artist."I really dig playing alone, I follow my own time, my feet are my drummer and I can play the harmonica and guitar together like the way I want to, and I can change up in the middle of a number without having to rehearse anyone. Plus me and the band is getting along real good. I don't have to worry about nobody getting drunk or not showing up for the gig and the only one I argue with is myself. Yeah, except for the guitar player - he's always fightin' with the harp, the harp player gets all the women".

There are only a handful of artists left that can carry on the tradition of the deep blues and Paul Oscher's one of them. "When I was a young man I played other peoples blues. Now that I'm older, I write and play my own and when I play a blues classic, I put my own stamp on it. And I always keep that lowdown and lonesome feelin' I learned in Muddy Waters' band -- I keep it real and in the moment."

"Down In The Delta" is distributed by Burnside Distribution.


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Top Ten Handy List
From The Blues Foundation website
www.blues.org

Top Ten List (of things you would have seen at this years’ W.C. Handy Blues Awards)

10. The party –Nominees and fans mingling together with blues music and adult beverages like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and blue margaritas compliments of Gibson Guitars—it was cinco de mayo after all

9. The jams--Popsy Dixon of The Holmes Brothers jamming with Barbara Blue and band at the Trolley Stop Lounge the night before.

8. The Handy dinner music –solo piano courtesy of by Mitch Woods, Jon Cleary and David Maxwell.

7. The dance floor—packed during Charles Wilson and then Charles Wilson with Gary US Bonds.

6. Unusual instruments - Paul Oscher and his bass harp

5. The veterans--David “Honeyboy” Edwards (89) and Robert Lockwood Jr. (90) performing back to back.

4. The newcomers— The buzz from those not already hip--“Who is this Watermelon Slim?”

3. The opening-- The 17-piece Calvin Owens Big Blues Band opens the show!!!

2. The musical combinations--Pinetop Perkins, two Beale Street Blues Baldwin baby grands and friends like Marcia Ball, Ann Rabson, Daryl Davis, David Maxwell, Mitch Woods and Jon Cleary all performing at once.

1. The only at the Handys moments—Handy winners Mavis, Koko and Shemekia onstage together acting like sisters or two sisters and their niece


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Paul Oscher "Alone With The Blues"

NEW DEEP BLUES ALBUM FROM AN AMERICAN BLUES LEGEND AND FORMER MUDDY WATERS BAND MEMBER

Alone with the Blues showcases Paul Oscher as a blues singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (Harmonica, Guitar, Piano, Accordion and Melodica) in both solo and ensemble settings. The band tracks include accompaniment by Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Calvin "Fuzz" Jones and Dave Maxwell among others.

Alone with the Blues covers a wide range of traditional Blues styles and includes seven original compositions, eight original interpretations of Blues classics and two traditional gospel songs. All in all - seventeen tracks and over sixty eight minutes of deep blues.

Alone with the Blues takes the listener through the gritty territory of Oscher's musical history from lonely country blues to personal themes of loss and redemption, to the inviting sin of juke joint nights and to back porch storytelling.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE ALBUM INCLUDE:

  • a masterful solo harmonica performance where Paul plays an array of diatonic and chromatic harmonicas, bass harmonica and melodica over an after hours blues theme

  • an extraordinary gospel piano and melodica duet featuring Dave Maxwell on piano and Paul on a melodica played through a leslie speaker sounding like a Hammond B3 organ

  • Paul's chromatic harmonica interpretation of the Miles Davis jazz blues classic Walkin'

  • Paul channeling on the guitar in the styles of Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and Robert Nighthawk

  • solo performances featuring his Chicago blues style amplified neckrack harmonica and guitar

  • two blues classics featuring Paul accompanying himself on the piano

  • a Cajun style song where Paul has the harmonica sounding like a button accordion and

  • a Mississippi John Hurt song where Paul accompanies himself on the accordion


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Paul Oscher Has Paid His Dues
AND HE DON'T PLAY NOTHING BUT THE BLUES

There are only a handful of these cats left that can carry on the tradition of the deep blues and Paul Oscher's one of them. Paul got his start in Muddy Water's band (1967-71) as Muddy's harp player. Paul lived on the southside of Chicago in Muddy Waters' house where Muddy treated him like a son. Paul shared Muddy's basement with the great Otis Spann who taught Paul the piano. Working alongside blues greats like Muddy Waters, Otis Spann, Sammy Lawhorn, Pee Wee Madison and S.P. Leary, Paul learned the deep Blues phrasing and timing characteristic of his music today. Paul learned the guitar by literally looking over the shoulders of Muddy and Sammy Lawhorn. As Paul says, "Yeah , I was blowin' the harp, but I was steady watching Muddy with that slide."Paul was the first white musician in the world to become a full time member of a black blues band of that stature. He traveled the chitlin' circuit with Muddy playing the black theatres and juke joint joints to people who knew the blues, lived the blues and had the blues. Expounding further on his blues roots, Paul shares: "I certainly draw from the time I was on the road with Muddy and the experiences I had living on the southside. I give thanks everyday for that - it's the biggest gift of my life and it's given me my foundation. Now, I look at it this way...when I was a young man I played other peoples blues and now that I'm older, I write and play my own. But I still keep that deep blues feelin' I learned in Muddy Waters band and when I do play a blues classic I don't copy it, I do it the 'old school way', that is, I make it my own ­it's my arrangement, my music and sometimes I add my own words, you know, put my stamp on it. That way, even when I'm playing someone else's blues it's still mine. I can relate to it- keep it real and in the moment. That's what I always dug about Lightning Hopkins and John Lee Hooker and cats like that."Paul Oscher has been extensively interviewed in books and videos about the blues and is currently in the process of writing a book on his experiences in the blues. An excerpt from his book has been published in the companion book to the PBS series "Martin Scorcese Presents The Blues." Paul brings this wealth of experience of his over forty years commitment to the blues to this new ELECTRO-FI release Nowadays, Paul Oscher performs mostly as a solo artist in a show called "Alone with the Blues" which features him on harmonica, bass harmonica, guitar, piano and melodica. His show "Alone with the Blues" show has received rave reviews from critics, fans, and promoters. The original concept for this record was to record a solo album to reflect his live show. Twelve of the tracks on the record are solo performances and the remaining tracks feature Paul in duo and quartet settings. Interviewed about his one man band show, Paul said, "I really dig playing alone, I follow my own time, my feet are my drummer and I can play the harmonica and guitar together like the way I want to, and I can change up in the middle of a number without having to rehearse anyone. Plus me and the band (referring to himself) is getting along real good. I don't have to worry about nobody getting drunk or not showing up for the gig and the only one I argue with is myself. Yeah, except for the guitar player ­ he's always fightin' with the harp, the harp player gets all the women. (laughs) "Besides his work with Muddy, Paul has also performed and or recorded with numerous major blues artists including Otis Spann, Johnny Young, John Lee Hooker, Earl Hooker, Fred McDowell, T-Bone Walker, Magic Sam, Big Mama Thornton, Big Walter Horton, Jimmy Rogers Luther "Georgia Boy" Snake Johnson, Johnny Copeland, Louisiana Red, Victoria Spivey, Hubert Sumlin, Levon Helm, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and the list goes on.Paul's live performances with Muddy Waters and his subsequent recordings influenced a whole generation of blues musicians and paved the way for many other musicians.

This new cd on Electro-Fi should remind folks of Paul Oscher's stature in the blues world and of his soulful talents, not only on harp, but also on guitar, piano, vocals and songwriting.

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Alone With The Blues
Quotes

We'd like to thank all those blues fans and DJs who made Paul Oscher's 2004 release Alone with the Blues on Electro-fi a great success. Alone with the Blues charted in the Top 10 on the Living Blues Radio Charts. Alone with the Blues was been nominated for Accoustic Blues Album of the Year W.C. Handy Award. Here's what some nice folks said about it...

"One of the best authentic blues albums of the year." Andy Grigg REAL BLUES MAGAZINE

"Few artists in the blues field - black or white - could pull off a record of this range and consistent quality." Scott Barretta LIVING BLUES

“It's not simply multi-instrumental wizardry or cross-genre mastery that makes Alone with the Blues so impressive: Oscher simply has that deep blues feeling...instrumental triple threat...impressive stylistic range...a tonal tour de force..." Tom Hyslop BLUES REVUE

"This CD should remind folks of Paul Oscher's stature in the Blues world; he's long overdue in being recognized for his soulful talents on harp, guitar, piano, vocals, and songwriting...That said, this album is testimony to a Bluesy soul indeed..." BLUESWAX

“He's been impressing fans and critics alike for a long while with his multi-instrumentalist abilities, songwriting talent and sinewy yet sincere vocals...blues at its best." Gary von Tersch BIG CITY BLUES

"You can hear Muddy in his guitar, and Otis Spann in the piano, but the overriding sensation is of Oscher at the height of his powers and maturity. This is a man who has spent his life steeped in a blues tradition, and it shows." JUKE BLUES (U.K.)

"...the overwhelming essence of what (Paul) does is play blues with a power to move mountains and give faith there is magic to be found in the spirit of one man. Consider Alone with the Blues as the pure evidence of that pursuit...Because of all the nights he spent so close to the source with Waters, Spann and the other Chicago originators, he bears down on the songs in a way that gets as near to the blood as anyone out there now, conveying their daring truths with a shivering strength...Let's color Paul Oscher phenomenal, and leave it at that." Bill Bentley STUDIO CITY SUN

"How Paul Oscher slipped under my radar for nearly forty years is beyond me- the spirits of the Blues- Muddy Waters, Otis Spann and others of that phenomenal Blues era in Chicago- are deeply entrenched in this man's music." Grimmy CENTRAL IOWA BLUES SOCIETY

"Paul reaches into a mixed bag of musical influences, mining not only blues territory, but gospel and jazz as well...There's plenty of 'Saturday nights' to go along with the 'Sunday mornings'...There aren't many guys left that can carry the torch of the deep Delta blues, and Paul Oscher is one of them. We highly recommend "Alone With The Blues" to all blues fans and give it two hearty thumbs up!!" Sheryl & Don Crow MUSIC CITY BLUES SOCIETY

"It's not often that we all get to hear the real stuff anymore. Multi-instrumentalist / vocalist Paul Oscher's latest CD, Alone With The Blues is the real stuff." " It's good ... damn good" Bill Mitchell BLUES BYTES


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Workshop Review July 5, 2004
Paul Oscher is Alive and Well

Alone With the Blues

at Portland's Riverfront Blues Festival

By LynnAnn Hyde, Hohner Harmonicas Artist Endorsee, Baldoni Accordions Artist Endorsee, and Four Time Winner "Best Traditional Act" Cascade Blues Association

It's around six-thirty and the Water Front Blues Festival is gearing up for the last headline acts of the 2004 season. A "Gator" truck rolls up to our little "Educational" stage stacked high with amps, shipping cases and a full 88 key electric piano. The driver and I load the gear back stage and he tells me it needs to be covered. I wonder how the heck I can cover this mountain of gear and remember we have a large canvas tarp in our "Blues Bus" (a double decker bus outfitted with full music lab for our kids music programming). I cover the stuff and assist the artist finishing up on stage with his gear and load out. A tall man with icy blue eyes is wandering backstage and peeking under the tarp at the gear and my stagehand asks if he should kick him out. "No way" I whisper "that is Paul Oscher. He actually played with Muddy Waters for years...he is the sound of Chicago Blues harp." We stare in awe and get to work loading his gear on stage.

Mr. Oscher is smiling and hooking his gear up, one amp at a time. He taps his foot in time to a tune only he can hear. He actually walks with rhythm, and when he speaks he has a musical quality to his voice. There is a 1964 Guild "Thunderbird" amp for guitar, with the original speaker in it from Paul's days with Muddy Waters. Next is a huge 60's twin amp of some kind, spray painted black, no cloth or vinyl left on it's heavy wood cabinet. Paul tells me that amp was given to him by Cesar Diaz, Stevie Ray Vaughn's sound tech. I inquire more about that amp and he says, "Look at those speakers in there." So I do, and he says, "Are those new speakers?" and I say, "Yes, they look new." Then he says, "Thought so, looks like somebody switched out my speakers! It sounded better with the original speakers." His eyes flashed with annoyance and narrowed momentarily. I could see Oscher is one tough guy, a guy that can't be fooled and should not be tested. The hardness melted off with another grin, and he showed me some of the interesting harmonicas and the rack he uses. He explained how he set up the rack and gave me a private demonstration, and it is definitely the best sounding set-up I have ever heard. Then Oscher was on the hunt for another amp for his melodica, and we hooked him up with a Fender. He played a lovely minor-tuned Blues song on melodica and gave the old Fender a look, adjusting the knobs until he got a sound he could live with. He was like a kid in a candy store with his instruments and his gear, each item carried it's own specific function and it's own unique story. And Paul Oscher was there to share it all. He showed me a Hohner harmonica model called the "Educator" that sounded like a cross between a chromatic and an Echo harp, tuned to a minor. He told me he had owned it for around thirty years. It still played beautifully, and he treated it like a dear old friend. "They don't make these any more," he said in a conspiratorial tone, a sly smile brightening his face. The eyebrow went up, and those eyes were suddenly pinned on my face, as if he was trying to ascertain whether or not I realized the full implication of what he had just said. Then he chuckled like a boy with the last baseball on Earth and told me "I'm the only one who has one," he paused for a second, eyes searching the sky, " I think."

Oscher had fifteen minutes before his time slot opened so I was talking to him and looking at his harmonicas. I was nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. After all, meeting one of the finest Blues harp players of all time was exciting enough, but running his sound and setting up the stage for him was nerve wracking. I was looking at some large 14 hole harmonicas and said "These don't look like any of the Bass harps I have seen." The eyes flashed again and Paul leaned down to the big box at his feet and opened up his Bass harmonica box. I thought, "I am soooo embarrassed" and wondered if I should just leave the area. He saw the look on my face and softened up. "This is my Bass harp, not those" he said in a quiet voice, and with the "eye" still upon me, Paul began to demonstrate some lovely Blues harp on his Bass instrument. The moment the instrument touched his hand, his foot was stomping time and he was smiling again, happy. The 14 hole "Steve Baker Special"(s) required another demonstration or two, and then he played a bit on some Special 20's and Marine Bands, demonstrating some straight harp technique (high end Jimmy Reed style) and some Third position (a la George Smith). But he wasn't finished yet; he was just warming up. The piano was next, and he played some Classic Chicago Blues on piano as the stage area filled up with fans and long-time admirers. Oscher surveyed the crowd and started playing guitar and harmonica on his rack, a nice rendition of Little Walter's "Juke", his foot stomping time and his piercing blue eyes boring holes through louder audience members until they fell silent under his spell. I have never heard anyone play on a rack like Oscher did. It was simply magnificent. He jumped from instrument to instrument and never missed a beat, and Oscher had full command of each instrument he played. It was thrilling for the entire audience, and he drew one the larger workshop crowds of the entire festival.

Oscher played several tunes during his workshop, and harmonica was one of the main features. He said to no one in particular "harmonica is my greatest joy" during this workshop performance. For many of us, it was a sentiment we share with Paul, and it drew us closer to him as a "community". Many harp students were busy scribbling down his every word, hoping for the secret of his playing to be revealed to them in his words. Oscher spoke of working hard to play harmonica, and of showing respect to each song he plays, each time he plays it. And he played effortlessly; his tone and the phrases he produced were exactly what each song selection called for. It is easy to understand why Paul is considered one of the worlds' harmonica "greats". He makes the most complicated harmonica pieces sound easy to achieve, he never sounds like he is "trying", he plays with an even breath control that appears deceptively easy to do. However, his guitar and piano playing do not take a backseat to the harp, they serve to support and complement the harmonica when appropriate. He can (and DID) play all three at once and with grand authority. He plays harp better on a rack than most will ever manage hand holding, and his tone, timing, solo phrasing and comp styles are excellent. During his workshop and performance Oscher talked to us about time, groove and all the spaces in between. He has an incredible sense of time and cautions musicians to "let the groove breathe, its not something that's locked into a metronome its got to expand and contract naturally that's what makes it swing. . I like to keep a lot of air in my music, for me less is more, space is very important to me, that's what makes the sounds I do play count". He feels music from within and has the skills to transfer those feelings to his instruments, and that is what he encourages all musicians to do. Paul described what it was like for him to learn Blues harp mostly from records, and that back "in the day" (50's/60's) "Blues players did not share their licks with each other, they were really competitive with each other", so he was pretty much on his own. There were no workshops and videos. He recalled stories from his days with Muddy Waters and Otis Spann, and from his tours with Louisiana Red and other bluesmen. Paul showed eager guitarists the Muddy Water's "A" Tuning" which is essential to getting Muddy's delta slide sound, and also performed a beautiful rendition of "Georgia On My Mind" on harmonica and guitar. He showed harmonica players a variety of effects they can achieve with several household items including a toilet paper roll core and PCP pipe! Paul reminded us that we tend to lump all Blues music together in twelve bars, but he stressed that each master has there own particular set of rules to their music and they are quite different although they all use the same 12 bar format. He mentioned about how in jams today musicians mix up all kinds of styles of blues from Eric Clapton, Robert Johnson .Elmore James, BB king, Jimi Hendrix and to him it sounds like there all speaking different languages at the same time. The blues is not just anything goes in 12 bars. He used the analogy of blues masters having their distinct sound in the same manner as classical composers do. Bach had rules and Muddy Waters has rules to his style, Jimmy Reed has rules. John lee Hooker, Little Walter .Sonny Boy, T-bone , Lightnin' -they all had their own rules to their sound. They weren't just playing blues scales over three chords in twelve bars. They were playing carefully developed improvised compositions using their own signature licks and phrases and there own musical choices that makes their style recognizable. He then demonstrated the differences between a Muddy Waters Chicago style and a BB King style as examples.and said "now why would you mix BB King with Muddy Waters when you wouldn't mix Bethoven with Mozart. Blues composers are no less composers than their classical counterparts, they just didn't write it down, but the same musical process is involved. Little Walter was one of the greatest composers that ever lived. Everytime he played it was something different but you always knew it was Little Walter. His recordings represent only a small amount of the music he created."

Oscher has actually lived, played with and shared musical experiences with some of the best Blues artists recorded. After he sits before you and performs, you may realize Paul is a conduit to Muddy, Spann and the rest, a living bridge to a music that has long passed. It is a great feeling, and he puts on a great show.

Paul Oscher loves the Blues and his love and enthusiasm for the music is contagious. He is clever, entertaining, informative and an awesome musician and vocalist. The crowd was enthralled with him, and they didn't want him to stop, but the stage noise from the other bands was so loud he was nearly shouting in the mic to be heard. After an hour and fifteen minutes I called "time" and Mr. Paul Oscher concluded his performance and workshop with style and humor. He was smiling and patient with the many fans and Blues musicians clamoring to be in his presence. The dozens of bodies pressing close to purchase his CD's or pick his brain about something or another were making the already hot and stuffy stage even more so. This was his second performance of the day (back to back shows from larger to smaller stages) and he was tired, yet he still catered to his fans and gave them what they wanted. Everybody left happy and hopeful, and Oscher sat onstage with an ear-to-ear grin, still noodling around on harmonica, pleasing himself. He gave me two of his CD's, which I will list for your consideration in his discography. Mr. Oscher is in the process of writing his own autobiography, excerpts of this can be read at his website www.pauloscher.com also available at the web site are several recordings he has made that may not be available from "regular" outlets.


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Paul Oscher
The BamBoo Room
Lake Worth, FL - February 16, 2002

By Dave "Doc" Piltz - Photos copyright © 2002 Tom Asp (B&W)
& Ray Stiles - Article from bluesonstage.com

Paul Oscher is best known for his harmonica work in the Muddy Waters band during the late 60's and early 70's. What many people don't know is that Oscher also plays a great blues guitar and piano. Born in New York, Oscher first met Muddy Waters at the Apollo Theater in 1965 and two years later began playing in Water's band. Oscher was the first white guy to play as a regular member of Waters' band, serving in similar company as a number of great harp players including, Little Walter Jacobs, James Cotton, Junior Wells, Mojo Buford and Big Walter Horton.

After having spent most of his musical history playing as a member of a band (and some great ones), Oscher began performing as a solo act in May of 2001 when he lost his band and was scheduled to perform at an upcoming blues festival. After some careful thought and support from those around him, Oscher was convinced that he should play the date as a solo. As he puts it, "Two bus rides and one performance later, I knew I had found the perfect band." This was something he joked about several times during the second night of his two night show at The BamBoo Room in Lake Worth, Florida, questioning the drummer (his feet) how well "he" got along with the guitarist, piano player, harp player and singer (his hands and voice). Needless to say, everyone gets along famously, without any complaints.

Paul Oscher's one man show at The BamBoo Room proved that he is much much more than a harp player as he demonstrated through his enormous skills as a guitarist, piano player, singer and songwriter. Opening with a guitar harp version of the Freddie King classic, "Hideaway," Oscher continued to dazzle the ever-growing crowd throughout the evening performing songs that included rural blues, gospel, Muddy Water's covers and original material. Among the highlights of the evening, were Oscher's version of the gospel standard, "Lay My Burden Down," Muddy Water's "Rock Me Baby" (complete with some Muddy-style slide guitar) and "Things I Used To Do." "Things" was performed with Oscher accompanying himself on the largest bass harmonica that I have ever seen. It was VERY cool! Oscher said he bought the harp in 1968 for $17 and he has never seen another one. My favorite time during the evening was when Oscher performed the song "Sugar Mama." During the song Paul played two separate harps, alternating between a regular harp played through a section of PCV pipe which served as a wah-wah and a mute, along with a larger chromatic harp. It was the best (and the only to date) one man harp duet that I have ever seen!

When Oscher moved to the piano (an old upright model), it was like stepping into a 40's juke joint or a speakeasy during prohibition. On songs like "Bye Bye Baby" and "Blues Before Sunrise," Oscher really got the audience going in a big way. The transitions between instruments was fabulous and the stories of his experiences and knowledge of blues history was tremendous.

I always look forward to my visits to The BamBoo Room and I have never been disappointed at the quality and variety of the performers who appear there. After looking forward to seeing Paul Oscher for over a month, I was definitely impressed by his tremendous show. If you ever get an opportunity to see Paul Oscher perform live, don't miss it. You won't forget it.


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Paul Oscher

Alone With the Blues
Electro-Fi 3384

By Tom Hyslop, Blues Revue

Paul Oscher is the man who integrated Muddy Waters' band, playing harp from 1967 to 1971. Paying careful attention to Waters' guitar work onstage and learning piano from Otis Spann while the two roomed in Muddy's South Side Chicago home, he became an instrumental triple threat. In the intervening years, Oscher has released just a handful of albums, but his reputation has remained strong among fans and musicians, with admirers such as James Cotton, Levon Helm, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and Hubert Sumlin. Oscher's newest solo release finds him at ease in various blue settings. Alone With the Blues often fulfills its title. Eleven tracks are solo performances, most cut at a 2001 session in Toronto with Oscher accompanying himself on a shifting combination of piano, guitar, melodica, accordion, and a terrifying array of harmonicas. The impressive stylistic range covers spirituals ("Glory, Glory" and "Early One Morning," both on harp and guitar, the latter featuring a few slyly placed blues licks), R&B (Chuck Willis' "You're StillMy Baby," with a little T-Bone Walker guitar action in the intro), prewar blues (a startling turn on John Hurt's "Louis Collins" played on accordion, and a maximum-feeling reading of Leroy Carr's "Blues Before Sunrise" on piano), and a loose, piano and huge-toned harmonica take on Big Joe Turner's "Juke Joint." That's before you get to Oscher's originals. On "Standing at the Crossroads" (not the Elmore James classic), he channels John Lee Hooker. "Work That Stuff" is a perfect emulation of Sonny Boy Williamson II in the harp style and the lascivious delivery of the lyric; "Blues and Trouble" nails Muddy Waters; "Christmas Blues" blends the two styles. Most impressive is the title track, a tonal tour de force played on harmonicas and melodica that finds Oscher sitting on top of the world. The balance of the album features Oscher playing with other musicians on recordings laid down between 1993 and 1999. Ted Attorino substitutes minor chords on guitar and Oscher positively destroys the harp with powerful bent notes on Jimmy Rogers' "That's Alright" (you can hear in the first phrase that it's going to be a killer). Waters' 1970s rhythm section of Willie Smith and Calvin Jones, with Dave Maxwell on piano, guests on "Anna Lee" as Oscher gooses the Robert Nighthawk slide lines with Muddy sting, and a Florida combo backs Oscher's harp on the Cajun pastiche "My Sweet Suzanne" and the swinging, Little Walter-inspired "Walkin'." It's not simply multi-instrumental wizardry or cross-genre mastery that makes Alone With the Blues so impressive: Oscher simply has that deep blues feeling. As Muddy Waters puts it in a vintage interview snippet that follows the last track: "He was the type of kid that's been under the blues all his life. He just happen to be a soul man."


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The Real Stuff

By Bill Mitchel, Blues Bytes July 2005

It's not often that we all get to hear the real stuff anymore. Multi-instrumentalist / vocalist Paul Oscher's latest CD, Alone With The Blues (Electro-Fi Records). is the real stuff. The man who played in The Muddy Waters Band back in the 1960s, then followed the obscure musician route for a couple of decades, is back with his fourth album in the last five or so years. It's good ... damn good. The disc opens with a hot harmonica instrumental, "Walkin'," that will invoke memories of Little Walter's best stuff ... not surprising, since both Walter and Oscher honed their trade with Muddy Waters. He follows with a sparse version of Jimmy Rogers' "That's All Right," on which Oscher is joined on guitar by Ted Attorino. Oscher's own foray into guitar accompaniment comes on his own "Standing At The Crossroads," a haunting solo number which sounds like a John Lee Hooker number. He then showcases his harmonica skills on the instrumental "Alone With The Blues," switching between assorted chromatic and diatonic harmonicas, bass harmonica and the Hohner melodica; this cat is truly a genius on these instruments. The sound of the bass harp, not often heard on recordings, is especially cool. "Blues and Trouble" features Oscher, as pictured on the album cover, playing solo with guitar and rack harmonica; this one sounds like early Muddy material, but it was penned more recently by Oscher. This talented guy can also play the piano, as heard on the barrelhouse blues "Juke Joint," on which he overdubs some mean harp blowing. The only cut featuring a full band is a version of Robert Nighthawk's "Anna Lee," with Oscher throwing down some nasty slide guitar licks and backed by Dave Maxwell on piano, Calvin Jones on bass, and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith on drums; it's not high energy, but very tasteful. Just when I didn't think I could be surprised by the content on this disc, Oscher picks up an accordion and gives a real backwoods churchy feeling to the Mississippi John Hurt song "Louis Collins." He delivers some of his most impassioned vocals on the traditional "Old Ship of Zion." By now you may have figured out that there are a lot of songs on this CD --- 17 of 'em in all, making this album even more of a bargain for the money. Alone With The Blues is highly recommended and will undoubtedly be on many reviewers' top ten lists at the end of the year.


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Studio City Sun

By Bill Bentley

Paul Oscher, a young, skinny white harmonica player who in the late ‘60s had worked his way into the world’s last great blues band, is playing for keeps. Muddy Waters was in peak form back then, burning down stages around the country with a group that included pianist Otis Spann, bassist Calvin Jones, Pee Wee Madison and Luther Johnson on guitars and drummer S.P. Leary supplying the crucial tombstone beat. Oscher, all of 18 years old, had taken a spot previously filled by Little Walter, Junior Wells and James Cotton in Waters’ lineup. Needless to say, the pressure was on. This was a band that could slice up the competition with their eyes closed, laughing while they laid waste to all comers. The Muddy Waters crew played Chicago blues, the kind that would curl your toes and tear up your heart, and that’s just on the opening number. By the end of the evening, their music defined whole worlds of hurt, finally leading to happiness of the kind usually delivered by religions and other righteous pursuits. To have worn those colors marks you for life. From all accounts, the next twenty-five years weren’t always great for the harp player. The usual struggles with survival and self-defeating skirmishes of the soul kept the musician out of the limelight and in hot water. But in 1996 a solo album surfaced, and by then damn if the man wasn’t a full-grown bluesman of his own. His hard-knock years had given him a presence heard from very few modern musicians. Oscher had also taught himself guitar and piano, coupled with a vocal style straight off the street, coming from somewhere dark and deep way beyond the usual mannerisms of his blue-eyed soul brothers. Here’s what Paul Oscher didn’t bother with: phaser filters, tennis shoes, non-fat vanilla lattes, Pro Tools, veggie wraps, endless takes, hot shot producers, high dollar photo sessions, movie openings, image consultants, co-writes, videos for VH1, remixes by Moby or anything else which would take away from the overwhelming essence of what he does, which is play blues with a power to move mountains and give faith there is magic to be found in the spirit of one man. Consider Alone with the Blues as the pure evidence of that pursuit. Years ago John Mayall recorded an album called The Blues Alone, pretty much defining what he was with very little outside help. Paul Oscher has accomplished an even greater feat on his fourth album. Because of all the nights he spent so close to the source with Waters, Spann and the other Chicago originators, he bears down on the songs in a way that gets as near to the blood as anyone out there now, conveying their daring truths with a shivering strength. There are timeless takes on classic songs by Leroy Carr, Mississippi John Hurt and Big Joe Turner right next to originals that even the blues police won’t be able to tag as recent. The lyrics on Oscher’s own “Standing at the Crossroads” and “Blues and Trouble” come from a long lifetime of living, something this musician can stand tall and declare himself to be a survivor of. His ability to extend the range of various harmonicas is nothing short of headshaking. And when necessary, Oscher will whip out a melodica or accordion just to kick the dazzle index up a few inches. Then, right when you feel like you’ve finally figured out his musical world, a song like “My Sweet Suzanne” will fall out of the sky with a swampy sound so real and rocking that a listener can only swear the man must have one leg left standing in Louisiana. The key to everything is Oscher has realized exactly who he is, and knows how to turn that proud self into sound. At the very end of the disc, there’s a short interview with Muddy Waters himself. Asked about his one-time harp player being white, the blues king says, “I don’t care what color, as long as he’s got that soul that I feel.” Let’s color Paul Oscher phenomenal, and leave it at that.


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CD Review

Paul Oscher

Alone with the Blues
By Sheryl and Don Crow, Music City Blues Society

For the uninitiated, Brooklyn-born Paul Oscher was the harp player in Muddy Waters' band from 1967-1971. During these four years, he also learned blues guitar by watching Muddy and Sam Lawhorn. While sharing a house with Otis Spann, he learned blues piano. All his musical influences come together on his latest release on the Electro-Fi label, "Alone With The Blues."

This is indeed an apt title, as fully twelve of the seventeen cuts here feature Paul as a virtual "one-man band," as he plays piano, guitar, and neck-rack harp to really convey the feeling of one man literally "alone with the blues." Paul reaches into a mixed bag of musical influences, too, mining not only blues territory, but gospel and jazz as well. Listen to the plaintive vocal on "Louis Collins," along with some fine accordion work, putting a new spin on the Mississippi John Hurt original. "My Sweet Suzanne" also has a Cajun feel, but what sounds like an accordion is actually a harmonica, Paul playing both the melody and chords simultaneously. Some of our members will see visions of Gypsy Carns as Paul helps us "lay our burdens down" with soulful renditions of "Glory, Glory," "Ship Of Zion," and "Giving Thanks." The latter is an impromptu piece with Paul on an amped-up melodica that sounds like a Hammond B-3, joined by Dave Maxwell on piano. They totally improvised this stunning closer to the CD, a variation of "Amazing Grace."

There's plenty of "Saturday nights" to go along with the "Sunday mornings," tho. Paul's piano playing is in fine form on Leroy Carr's "Blues Before Sunrise". "Juke Joint," an original Big Joe Turner shouter, is stripped down to Paul's vocal, harp, and piano, with improvised lyrics as it progresses. "Standing At The Crossroads" and "Blues And Trouble" conjure up the raw power of John Lee Hooker and Muddy with their tales of hoodoo men and mojos. Paul's slide and harp work are stellar on "Blues And Trouble," and this cut could've easily passed for some of Muddy's and Little Walter's stuff waxed down at 2120 Michigan Avenue in Chicago back in the Chess days. That's one thing we found out about this set---on the cuts where Paul is playing all the instruments as well as the vocals, he sounds like a full combo instead of just one man!

We had two favorites, tho. The first is a minor-key reading of Jimmy Rogers' "That's Alright," with Paul on harp backed by "Little T" on guitar, recorded straight-to-cassette in their New York boarding house in 1999. The other is another semi-improvised number, "Anna Lee." Working with Dave Maxwell on piano, Fuzz Jones on bass, and Willie Smith on drums, Paul began singing this song between takes, and the other guys just locked in behind him on that deep-blues groove. This one is also characterized by another great slide solo as well!

There aren't many guys left that can carry the torch of the deep Delta blues, and Paul Oscher is one of them. We highly recommend "Alone With The Blues" to all blues fans and give it two hearty thumbs up!! Until next time...


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CD Review

Paul Oscher

Alone With The Blues

By Grimmy as publish in the Central Iowa Blues Society's Blues Crier

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CD Review

Big City Blues Magazine Aug/Sept 2004

It's great to see 53 year old Chicago blues veteran and harmonica whiz Paul Oscher back on the scene and out with a new solo project. He's been impressing fans and critics alike for a long while with his multi-instrumentalist abilities, songwriting talent and sinewy yet sincere vocals. After getting his start in the Muddy Waters band from 1967 through 1971-following legends like Little Walter, James Cotton and Junior Wells- Oscher became a first call session and road musician with blues performers from John lee and Earl hooker to T-bone Walker and Eric Clapton. After all,he certainly had the chops. Oscher began picking up slide guitar from nights on the bandstand with Waters and Sammy Lawhorn and absorbed a rolling, left hand heavy, piano approach from the vigorous Otis Spann. The material collected here comes from a variety of sources and dates from 1993, where he plays haunting button accordion on Mississippi John Hurt's saga of gunshot victim Louis Collins, through 2001 and is mostly solo. Standouts from the five combo cuts include an expressive recasting of Robert Nighthawk's plaintive ode to mean "Anna Lee", the south side reverberant instrumental lead-off "Walkin'" along with a jaunty, swamp-pop infused "My Sweet Suzanne" and feature buddies David Maxwell on piano, drummer Willie "Big Eyes" Smith and a few others. Well tempered Oscher originals are abound. From the moody, foot stompin' title tune that has him on assorted chromatic and diatonic harmonicas, bass harmonica and and melodica," a Delta deep and sweaty "Standing at the Crossroads" to the Muddy conjuration "Blues and Trouble" that features superb slide. Oscher also finds time to scaldingly revive obscure R&B oldies like Joe Turner's barrelhouse piano- driven Juke Joint and Chuck Willis' melodic confessional "You're still my baby." A revival of "Old ship of zion" the traditional gospel number, and an icy, lonely "Christmas blues" will make Oscher believers out of you. This is high heat brush-back blues at its best from one of the many unsung champions currently performing. Catch up with him at pauloscher.com.


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Paul Oscher is Alone With The Blues

Electro-Fi 3384
05/05/04

BluesWax Rating: 8

Reader Rating: 9

By Mark Hummel, BluesWax

Paul Oscher is no stranger to harp fans who have been into Blues for many years. Oscher played harp in Muddy Water's band from 1966-70, when Otis Spann, S.P. Leary, and Sammy Lawhorn were in the band. He was one of the first white harp players playing in a black Blues band on the road at a time when it could be a dangerous proposition. These are heavy street credentials to have and he paved the way for many others like Bob Margolin and Jerry Portnoy. That said, this album is testimony to a Bluesy soul indeed.

Things kick off with "Walkin," an infectious Jazz standard on chromatic harp that swings like all get out. "That's Alright" is done minor with a great 3rd position solo that sounds like old Junior Wells or Cotton. "Sweet Suzanne" has a Cajun accordion feel to it. This is the first of nine originals on the CD. "Standing at the Crossroads" is an Oscher original that has Paul playing great John Lee Hooker style guitar and singing like the man himself. "Alone With The Blues" is a harmonica tour de force that not many could pull off; he plays bass harp, chromatic, and diatonic harps on it, sometimes through a toilet paper roll making it sound like a trumpet or voice. Three Gospel numbers also grace this disc, including "Glory," "Old Ship of Zion," and "Giving Thanks," which features Paul on melodica, but sounds like a church organ in a Mississippi chapel on some lonesome road. "Work That Stuff" is one that Rick Estrin should record as it sounds custom suited to his vocal style. "Work" features a tough harp break from Oscher. "Blues and Trouble" isn't the Muddy tune, but another Oscher original done in his mentor's style, as is Leroy Carr's "Blues Before Sunrise," which was also recorded by Waters. This CD should remind folks of Paul Oscher's stature in the Blues world; he's long overdue in being recognized for his soulful talents on harp, guitar, piano, vocals, and songwriting.


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Living Blues

CD Review by Scott Barretta
Living Blues Magazine Vol.35 issue174

Given his multiple talents, Paul Oscher has a surprisingly low profile in the blues world. In 1967 Oscher became the first white member of the Muddy Waters blues band and occupied the harmonica slot there until 1971; his reminiscences of his time with the band were some of the most compelling in Robert Gordon's Muddy bio and documentary. Since then he has spent much of his, time playing in his native New York as "Brooklyn Slim" and recorded intermittently for a variety of small labels. Naturally, the experience in Muddy's band shaped Oscher's musical outlook. Aside from drawing from Waters' great harp players, Oscher also developed into an impressive Waters-style electric slide guitarist, and plays piano in the vein of Otis Spann, with whom he shared the basement of Muddy's house. Although this CD sometimes echoes these influences, it's mostly a low-key affair that spotlights Oscher's skills as a solo performer. Eight of the seventeen tracks were recorded several years ago in Toronto for Electro-Fi, while the remaining stem from a variety of sources from the past decade or so. Unifying the record is Oscher's characteristic emphasis on the spectrum of sounds on the harmonica and his refreshing apparent lack of interest in apparent lack of interest in demonstrating how many notes he can squeeze out. This approach is exemplified on the opener, a low-key take on the hard bop standard Walkin', where Oscher is backed by a minimal rhythm section, and the title track, a mid-tempo solo instrumental which finds Oscher exploring the breadth of his harmonica collection-chromatic, diatonic, bass-with quotes from After Hours and Blue Monk. Oscher's wide-ranging musical imagination is evidenced on the swamp pop-flavored Sweet Suzanne, where his harp work emu-lates the accordion, while he picks up the squeezebox for a unique take on Mississippi John Hurt's Louis Collins. The solo piece Standing At The Crossroads is an Oscher original in an early John Lee Hooker vein with a vocal and guitar work surprisingly close to the boogie man's, while Leroy Carr's Blues Before Sunrise and Big Joe Turner's juke joint serve as platforms for Oscher's impressive skills on the piano. The closest Oscher comes here to the Muddy band sound is by way of Robert Nighthawk's Anna Lee, where his electric slide guitar work is backed by the rhythm section of Willie "Big Eyes" Smith and Calvin "Fuzz" Jones as well as pianist David Maxwell. The latter also accompanies Oscher on the closing track Giving Thanks, which features Oscher on another sort of "mouth organ," the melodica. Few artists in the blues field-black or white-could pull off a record of this range and consistent quality. Alone With The Blues should help bring Oscher the attention he deserves.


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Review From Spain

'Ta Hora del Blues" is a blues radio show only devoted to make blues well known all over the world thanks to radio waves and internet too. We hope that eveybody can enjoy the wonderful music that is the legacy that afroamerican people has given to the human race and specially to all of us that by and through the blues see a way to express our feelings. If musicians, bands, labels, record companies, distributors, fans and blues lovers all over the world can, enjoy and be helped an favoured in any way from this pages, my dream will be accomplished. Thank you all

Paul Oscher "Alone With The Blues" Electro-Fi 2004.

Poco se puede decir ya de un músico tan grande y tan completo como es Paul Oscher, quien siempre muestra un gran respeto hacia el blues más tradicional y ortodoxo. La intensidad y la pasión con que desgrana los blues que se incluyen en este soberbio álbum, son difíciles de describir. A Paul Oscher hay que escucharle, ya sea en disco o en directo, para poder disfrutar de toda su gran clase y maestría. En 'Alone With The Blues' Paul canta, toca la armónica diatónica y cromática, el piano y la guitarra con el convencimiento, el respeto y la gran admiración que siempre pone en todo lo que interpreta. Este es el álbum de un hombre que vive el espíritu y el alma del verdadero blues y que ha destinado toda su vida y existencia a una auténtica cruzada para conseguir la supervivencia de este género musical, con toda la honestidad y la profesionalidad de la que solo unos pocos escogidos pueden presumir. IMPRESCINDIBLE.

Few things can be said about such a great and complete artist like Paul Oscher who always shows an enormous respect to the most traditional blues. It jis difficult to describe with words the amazing passion and feeling he gives to all songs included on this splendid cd. Paul deserves to be carefully listened, either live or in cd, to enjoy all his top quality and mastery. In 'Alone With The Blues' Paul sings, plays diatonic and chromatic harp, piano and guitar with the greatest respect, admiration and conviction he always gives to his performing. This is a cd of a man who deeply lives the spirit and soul of the real blues music, who has devoted his life to the survival of this musical style with an honest professional work that very few people can show off. ESSENTIAL.

 

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