We bring you, “What Is That Mic Application?” In this installment of unique encounters from the road, we stumbled upon a homemade, handheld device involving some toggle switches, heavy duty cabling and an SM58 gently wedged in the center. This creation takes center stage every night and is a big part of this endorsers live show. Before reading any further, care to take a guess at what this device is used for and who it belongs to?
So, to answer the first question of what this device is used for… the mic itself is used to pick up the sounds of the mouth harp or harmonica to the layperson. The push button switches (foot switches removed from a few guitar pedals for their ruggedness) remotely select different effects, similar to that of a guitarists’ (there’s even a Leslie Cabinet involved in the chain of command!). This unique apparatus is made of wood on the top, while the handle portion is made up of some type of fiberglass material similar to that of a cast. It’s heavy duty and quite road worthy. Upon first glance it appears that it may have come from the days of the cavemen… but they didn’t have SM58s back then. Shame really… amplified, organized grunting could have passed for an early form of music by today’s standards. Anyway, rounding out the uniqueness of this homemade harp mic thing is a 16 channel Horizon stage snake coming from the bottom of the handle portion. This snake feeds into all of the effects and also splits the mic into two outputs. It’s truly a work of art and engineering genius once you really dig in and understand the ins and outs of this thing.
As for the second question of who this belongs to… well, none other than John Popper of Shure endorsers Blues Traveler, of course! Every night on stage John man handles this oversized mic/toggle switch device with his right hand and plays the harp of his choice in his left hand. Mind you, all of this is happening AND he is still somehow manipulating these toggle switches on the top, adding reverb, delay, Leslie, etc. At this point, it’s like riding a bike for John, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around how one could hold the harp in one hand, this dinosaur bone in the other and perform in front of thousands of people… and do it with the greatest of ease. Hats off to you Mr. Popper, it’s truly a sight to see. Check it out the next time Blues Traveler comes to a town near you.