Colin's Sandbox

The Promise of the Suzuki Manji

by on Apr.05, 2013, under Digital Storytelling

When it’s sunny outside I have a tendency to see a story in small hurdles, and enjoy them when they come out right.

Last night at a band practice I found out that a certain song (but sorry young grasshopper, not this one) we’re playing for Folk Fest would be in Bb – the original key of the song.  But originally other members of the group had decided to that in order to make it easier on the stringed instruments, we’d play it in A.  Which I could play, since I have the right harp for it – a D.  I didn’t have Eb, which I’d need to play in Bb.  Welp I miss a couple practices while I had some relatives in for a week makes a big difference.  A measly semitone of difference but a world of hurt when you hear someone playing in the wrong key.  We’re back in Bb.

I called the local shop.  Not in stock.  “Big shipment” promised for the middle of this week.  Hmmm.  Not going to help, I would love to have it in my hands right now, and who knows if it would just be the Hohner Blues Harp?  Those things are leaky lip killers that I have never been able to drive right.  If I didn’t have it soon (upcoming full band practice on Sunday) I wouldn’t need it until Friday, a week from now.  I’d order it with super-uber priority mail or something from Amazon and it’d be here before that.  Plenty of them there.

I know the argument about supporting the local guy, and usually I call there first, as long as he has the thing in stock and it’s a harp.  They don’t go bad.  There’s a lot of different varieties though, and not enough harmonica players in town to justify it, so I understand.  They’re essentially commodity items; it’s not like the shop opens them up and customizes them.

I called up Mammoth Music in Anchorage and it turns out that they have this Hohner Blues Harp in Eb – and this shock and terror filled me when I realized I would have to overpay for a harp I’d always hate and have to replace, or not, because funds are tight and I only use it for these couple songs, etc… Hard to justify, so I’d likely just dislike the dumb thing for years to come.  “You got anything else?  Something with a plastic comb?  Like a Lee Oskar, or a Suzuki, etc?”, I ask the man whom I found out later was named Lance.  “Hold on”, he says, and after a minute’s pause, “yep I got one right here, a Suzuki, uh, hard to pronounce this, Man G?  One left.”.  He spells it out for me.  M-A-N-J-I.  I’m online.  I look it up.  I don’t even look at the reviews at first.  I ask him how much he’s charging for the thing that will save me from the Hohner Blues Harp.  “$54.99”.  The first thing I do is to compare the price.  The same.  My jaw drops.  This might be the one.  I read further on the reviews – composite comb, doesn’t bite like wood.

I have to make this happen.  More Internet searches.  Checking people’s travel calendars.  Thinking back – I remember … then in a flash I sent out an email to a guy I just played hockey this morning who said he heading up to Anchorage for a couple days.  He responds – he think he can pick it for me and bring it back by Sunday.

I call up Lance again.  Numerous attempts to communicate through what must be a full symphony going on over there, and my own mush mouth to contend with.  Also, the fax machine is hooked up to the same phone line that they use to process credit cards.  They just now are receiving a 30 page fax, and it’s going really slow.  Lance offers to call me back.

I need this harp so bad.   I am on pins and needles, I’ve read more reviews by now and I’m convinced that this harmonica is the only thing standing in the way between me and completely obliterating that 8-bar solo.  Yes that’s it, 8 bars.

The transaction goes through.  We stumble in our good-byes, perhaps both confident that something of great value was achieved.

I send out the notification to the Anchorage-bound acquaintance.  If he comes through it’s free beer for sure: I’ll actually sound OK on the damned song at Folk Fest.  The people I’m closest to in life probably won’t know the difference but I will, and that’s all the difference to me.



[Edit: He came through, and it’s here.]

The result:

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