Jerry Portnoy

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Sonny Boy I

Lesson 1

Jerry Portnoy Lesson >

Sonny Boy I > Lesson 1

In this post I talk about the style of John Lee (Sonny Boy) Williamson and why his style is the foundation of blues harmonica playing.  I’ll show you one of his basic riffs and a few variations of it.  In future posts we’ll go over his other basic riffs, and learn how they fit together.

C Harp in the Key of G.

Topics and/or subjects covered in this lesson:
Jerry Portnoy
Sonny Boy I
John Lee Williamson
C Harp
Key of G

Print Print Chords & Tab

C Harp in the Key of G.

The sequence of the riff is

- 3 4  draw
- 4 5  blow
- 3 4  draw
- 3 4  blow
- 3 4  draw
- 4 5  blow
- 3 4  draw
- 4 5  blow
- 3 4 draw
- 3 4  blow
- 2 3  draw

OK, hope you enjoyed the post and looking forward to hearing your thoughts and comments.


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Douglas Avery
Douglas Avery Oct 03, 2017

Greetings how much practice time do you recommend acoutic and electric?

Jerry Portnoy
Jerry Portnoy Oct 03, 2017

One important thing about practice is doing it several times a day. So, for instance, if you have an hour a day to practice, it's better to do three 20 minute sessions than one 60 minute session. This will help instilling muscle memory. Always have a goal in mind when you practice. Also, there is no point in practicing with an amp. Good tone is about you and the harp. If you have a great acoustic tone then you'll have good amplified tone. It's never about the electronics. 

peter middleton
peter middleton Aug 26, 2017

Nice, I need this!

carlos caballero
carlos caballero May 13, 2017

I just have to say that this is a wonderful experience to have Mr. Portnoy giving me a lesson after hearing him on so many songs over the years. I have cheated and faked my way for so long because I wanted quick results and did not want to learn tongue blocking and many other fundamentals. So now I have a chance to try and actually learn something real and sound like maybe I know what I'm blowing!
Thanks to this site and all involved.  C.C.

Mike Freeman
Mike Freeman Jan 07, 2016

This is the first Sonny Boy right?  Looking for the music.

Thouvenin Maryline
Thouvenin Maryline Feb 19, 2015

Good day misterPortnoy,

Have you lessons gratuites? Marylne

Mike Caren
Mike Caren Feb 19, 2015

Hi Maryln --- we offer two free lessons to try the service.  After that you can join with either a monthly or yearly subscription.  You can see our Sign Up page for the details

Thanks and please feel free to use our Contact Us page if you have any further questions.

Mike Caren
Mike Caren Nov 09, 2012

Hi Jarko .. you're correct.  My mistake.  Jerry's playing a C Harp in the Key of G.  My apologies for the error.

Jarek Nov 08, 2012

Hi Jerry ! In this video You play on C Harp . 


Michael LaRue
Michael LaRue Oct 29, 2012

Jerry are you using a "A" harp in most of these lessons? I'm new and can't always figure them out?

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