Pearson and Edwards: Blues Harmonica

Damion Pearson, photo courtesy of

Damion Pearson got his start playing on Beale Street with ‘Big’ Jerry Parnell and has been a practicing musician for over 17 years. He’s been called “the youngest harmonica player to come from Beale Street.” As a Bluesman who grew up in the Hip Hop era, his unique sound has been influenced by Blues, Soul, Gospel, and Hip Hop. Damion performs at community and cultural events as well as at Blues and Jazz venues. His soulful Blues harmonica style has been compared to artists like Stevie Wonder, Bobby Rush, and Little Walter. Damion explains, “Harmonica is an instrument used for human expression, often a celebration of life. I can’t remember a time when I haven’t played at a family gathering whether it be a birthday party, family reunion, or funeral.”

Harmonica playing was once prevalent in Memphis and the surrounding Hill Country but is now rarely found. “It is important to preserve and pass this music down because music is a connector,” Damion says. “I have witnessed on many occasions how music has been a bridge between generations. By standing in the middle and studying both older and younger generations of music, I’ve infused blues from the elders with current sounds and caught the youths’ ears. I think it’s important to have these intergenerational bridges in the community.”

Damion Pearson, photo courtesy of

Apprentice Karloquious Edwards is a saxophone player and has been playing harmonica for over two years. In Damion’s capacity as a music educator in Memphis, he’s introduced classroom harmonica to many students, including Karloquious when he was in middle school. Damion is excited to get an opportunity to teach one-on-one so he can give nuanced instruction, feedback, and exposure to an apprentice. Damion and Karloquious will be working on the many techniques required to play harmonica, including correct breathing, embouchure, scales for blues and gospel, tongue articulation, hand position, wah wah, and train chords. Karloquious will also be learning harmonica stylings from the old-time players and some of Damion’s own innovations. Damion explains that, “The resulting blend of gospel, Memphis blues, Delta blues, and Hill Country blues comes together into its own funky sound.”

Karloquious Edwards, photo courtesy of The Commercial Appeal

“With this project, I plan to further myself by picking up another tool and gaining new experiences. I also want to be able to teach others to play,” Karloquious explains. “There used to be a lot of skilled harmonica players in Memphis, but you don’t see many today. My goal is to learn to play so I can help bring the Memphis blues tradition back because music is a history and deserves to be preserved.”