From Baseball to the Blues: Terry “Harmonica” Bean

Terry_harmonica_bean Terry "Harmonica" Bean has decades of experience with the blues. A lifelong resident of Pontotoc, Bean first heard the downhome blues at home. His father, Eddie Bean, sang and played blues guitar and prior to Terry’s birth traveled with an electric blues band. Listen to the music of Terry “Harmonica” Bean: "Rockin’ in the Dirty South," "How Many More Yesrs" and "Why Do Men Go Crazy," here.

Terry Bean was one of fourteen children. His father worked as a sharecropper, and Bean picked cotton in the fields surrounding the family home of "Bean Hill."

Terry began playing guitar and harmonica as a child, and eventually his father began featuring him at the home gatherings and taking him along to other house parties. Although Terry was a “natural,” he stopped playing around the time he was twelve because several of his brothers were jealous of the attention he was receiving. (Today, however, Terry’s brother Jimmy plays in Terry’s blues band, while brother Jerry Lee sings gospel as well as lead vocals in the Pontotoc-based Legends of the Blues.)

Giving up the blues for a time, Terry turned his attention to baseball. At various levels of amateur and semi-professional play, Terry pitched five no-hitters and attracted scouts from several professional teams. A professional career in baseball was curtailed, however, due to two automotive accidents.

In 1988, Bean went to see Robert Junior Lockwood at the Delta Blues Festival in Greenville, South Carolina. Bean fell in with the Greenville blues scene. Every weekend for three years he traveled to Greenville to play harmonica with James "T-Model" Ford and Asie Payton at various juke joints. He also played across the Delta with such artists as Lonnie Pitchford.

Bean formed a band and began playing guitar himself after becoming frustrated with teaching others hisBl_terrybean  ideal sound. Following the lead of Arkansas bluesman John Weston, he started using a harmonica rack and performing as a one-man band, stomping his feet for percussion.

Since 2002 he has released six CDs. “What’s stimulating to me,” Bean says, “is people hearing the blues played like they used to hear it.”

Terry "Harmonica" Bean will be in residence at the 2007 Port Townsend Country Blues Festival, teaching, jamming, and passing on the stories and the traditions. On Saturday, August 4, at 1:30 pm, he’ll give a mainstage performance at McCurdy Pavilion. He plays sets in the intimate clubs of Port Townsend both August 3 and 4. Tickets are available by calling Centrum at 360.385.3102, x117 and online at our secure Acteva site