Stuart Alan Braun is a musician and an elementary school special educator. He’s known among friends as Stu, and he plays a mean Harmonica (and Melodica). I first encountered his playing as part of one of my favorite Pittsburgh bands of all time–The Johnsons/Johnsons Big Band (whose recordings are still in rotation on my playlists). Thesedays he plays with Man in the Street, a roots-reggae band, Local Honey, and the Turpentiners (which Stu described as “acoustic fun/new ‘old time’ music.”
Stu ended up contributing some tones to the project because of a question I often ask my participants, “Who else do you think should be a ringtone?” It was Mehrdad Murrie Emamzadeh (the Farsi Tones contributor) who said Stu should definitely be a ringtone. Thanks, Murrie!
Stu lives up on Mt. Washington and has been playing harmonicas since he was 17 years old. In between showing me his awesome little vegetable garden, and eating cherry tomatoes (while waiting for airplanes to pass by so we could capture good audio), Stu played three distinct melodies for project tones.
The first tone series is in the key of C–Stu played this fast piece a couple of times–a bluesy stomp improv on a Hohner Special 20 Harmonica. I’ve made a few tracks/tones from this first melody. Here’s the Bluesy Improv Stomp Tone (Short Version) and the Bluesy Improv Stomp Tone (Long Version). The short version was an excerpt from Stu’s first harmonica take that day but the whole thing was too long for a ringtone, but so, so good that I thought you might want to put it into your iTunes folder–here’s Stu’s Bluesy Stomp Improv Bonus Track. Plus, if you listen carefully, you’ll hear a plan flying through part of the recording.
The second harmonica melody we recorded was an improv based on the blues song Motherless Children. We’re calling it the Mount Washington Sketch Tone–it’s a slower tone, and Stu played it on his Hohner Marineband Harmonica (this instrument has had the exact same design since 1896!). The final tune is a shorter alert signal–the Drowsy Maggie Alert Signal–a traditional Irish fiddle tune which Stu played on his American Bushman Harmonica. Stu played this one specifically for those folks out there who want a harmonica text, video or pic message alert.
Thanks, Stu, for doin’ what you do! Happy to have these amazing harmonica tones in the project.