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As a Child, Sonny's older sister had a boyfriend that would hang around the house and play harmonica. That Changed Sonny's life forever...

sonny Earl singing the blues in black and white.

Sonny thought the sound was pretty cool, and he became obssessed with learning to play.  Sonny kept pestering his mom to buy him a harmonica.  Money was tight, but Sonny begged and begged, and his persistence finally paid off.  Sonny's mom took him up to Schmidt Music Center and bought him his first Marine Band Harmonica.  Sonny would loose interest and stop practicing, but then the harmonica guy would come around and Sonny would start practicing again.  

Years later Sonny’s uncle, a trumpet player, took him to a record store and bought him a Paul Butterfield album.  This album came to have a profound effect on the young harp player.  The vinyl eventually became wore by Sonny listening and trying to emulate the great Butterfield.  Sonny’s zeal was tempered by advice from the same uncle, who warned Sonny about the danger’s of becoming a professional musician.  He promised to one day take Sonny around the local club and introduce him to many gifted musicians who were barely making a living. 


After reading a book by Tony Glover, Sonny started listening to the folk styled harmonica of Sonny Terry.  He also listened to local harp player Pat Hayes of the Lamont Cranston band, and later Sonny Boy Williamson, Sugar Blue and William Clarke. 


While going to college, Sonny played part-time earning spending money playing mainly acoustic harmonica.  In 1997, after a few years of being away from music altogether, Sonny got the urge to start up again.  He was slated to play Friday happy hours at Gabby’s in NE Minneapolis with a blind rock guitar player, but due to scheduling concerns, the guitar player had to drop out, Sonny cancelled the gig but after some consideration, Sonny decided to call the best guitar player he knew of, Paul Metsa.  At this time, Sonny had never met Metsa, and frankly, didn’t know if Metsa was alive and/or living in Minneapolis.  After checking the local music rags, Sonny found Metsa playing at Nye’s bar in Minneapolis.  Sonny was a little intimidated and embarrassed about cold-calling Paul Metsa.  Metsa agreed to do the gig, but only because of a miscommunication.  Metsa thought he would play one week and Sonny would play the next week.  That bit of confusion developed into a 25 year musical partnership of Paul Metsa and Sonny Earl.  Paul Metsa moved to Duluth and the two still play together, and Sonny now does outside projects with the Sonny Earl Band.

Sonny Earl Live

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