Hammie van Hall

by Art M. Daane

Hammie van Hall

Hammie was born in Doornenburg, a small village between Arnhem and Nijmegen, on 27 January 1953.

He was only four years old when he first learned about the harmonica when his father was having a coffee break with a collegue, who played the harmonica, on the farm. The sound had made such an impression on him, that ten years later he chose it as his instrument.
His older brother 'Geert' told him that he was natural on the harmonica as he could bend a note without having been told 'how too', where others had to practise a very long time. "This is Blues" Geert said! "and listen to the greats".

Hammie got influenced by Sonny Terry, Sonny Boy Williamsen, Noah Lewis, Wil Shade, Little Walter, Walter Horton and James Cotton.
At first he concentrated especially on accoustic Country-blues, but soon became fascinated by the electrified sound. Little Walter had influenced him the most.

Together with his brothers 'Geert' and 'Henk' and some other friends he started his first country-blues band at the age of seventeen, the "Crapshooters".
Some four years later, when he was playing gigs in Nijmegen, he was confronted with the "Chicago Blues". Soon he formed a new band, the "Spike Drivers Blues Band," that lasted ten years, in which he learned a lot listening to the positive critics.

He was a big surprise at the "Battle of the Harmonica" in the "Paap" in The Hague, Holland, in 1986. In the same year, at the Mid-summer Blues Festival in Heumen, Holland, he was rated one of the best ten harp players in The Netherlands. His rendition of "Eyesight to the Blind" was magnificent.

Since that time he played with no less than: Loisiana Red, Robert Jr., Lockwood, Eddy Clearwater Buster Benton, Taildragger, John Primer and David Myers. In 1991 he played with Bill Shaka in Clarksdale, Missisippi, with a local band. When he met an old black man, who had been present at the gig, the next morning, he said, with a smiling face to Bill, "That was great harmonica playing you did last night." He then took a serious look at Hammie and said, "But you know what it's all about," and this was the greatest complement he had ever had.

In 1993, when he was in Rosa's Blues Lounge in Chicago, Illinois, the barkeeper complimented him after he had played with Sam Good, he said, " He man, you may look white, but you really sound black."

Hammie is an endorser of the Suzuki Promaster valved instrument. He uses a Shure 520 D Green Bullet microphone, a Fender Bassman '59 when working with a band, and a Fender Vibro Champ for when he works with single accompaniment. For reverbs he uses the Lexicon LXP-1.

Hammie van Hall

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