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Have Harp, Will Travel 

Corn-fed blues singer heads west and makes some Magic.

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Bluesman John Németh, whose old-school harmonica playing on Magic Touch belies his 32 years, says he chose his instrument based on economical attainability, not because he felt an overpowering draw to it. “I wanted to buy an electric piano and amplifier,” he says. “That was $3,000. The harmonica was $6.99.”

On his debut album, Németh blows and bellows his way through a set of mostly original songs that crib a lot from the veterans. “The soul of this music is dictated by the personality of the player,” he says. “You can really tell a lot about a man by his songs.” Németh was born in Boise, Idaho, where he grew up listening to AC/DC and Led Zeppelin. Then one day a friend played him some Junior Wells, Freddie King, and Little Walter. “It was some of the most funky, gritty music I’ve ever heard,” he says. Németh gigged around Boise before settling in San Francisco a few years ago. “It’s the freedom of the music,” he says. “It’s pretty badass.”
Fri., April 27, 9 p.m.

Speaking of Highlights

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