Guitarist, singer, songwriter, pianist and harp player Paul Oscher has paid his dues, and then some. Those who have been following blues for a long time will remember Oscher from the late 1960s as the white kid who played harmonica in the Muddy Waters Band.
Blues caught the Brooklyn-raised Oscher's ears at age 12 and he began playing professionally at age 15, frequenting clubs like the Baby Grand, the 521 Club and the Seville Lounge. Oscher also made frequent trips to the Apollo Theater in the mid-1960s. On one trip, he met guitarist Muddy Waters, and a friendship between the two developed. Several years later, Waters' band was in New York and they needed a harmonica player; Oscher got the nod. Oscher joined Waters on stage for two numbers, "Baby Please Don't Go" and "Blow Wind Blow." Waters hired him. As a full member of Waters' band, he had the chance to rub shoulders with greats like Otis Spann, Sammy Lawhorn and S.P. Leary. Oscher, the only white member of the band, performed with Waters through tours of the U.S., Europe and Canada. He also recorded with Waters' band at the Chess Studios in Chicago.
As one who was there at the height of the late 1960s blues renaissance, Oscher's harmonica playing influenced lots of other players who came to prominence after him. His sessionography is extensive, including albums with Johnny Copeland, Muddy Waters, Otis Spann, Luther Johnson and Johnny Young.
Oscher's veteran skills on guitar and harmonica are showcased on his debut for the New York-based Vice Roots Records, a division of Viceroy Music. Oscher's Knockin' On the Devil's Door, a 1996 release, brought his music before a bigger audience. Provided he can back it up with the kind of touring required to support independent records, Oscher should find himself in demand again on the festival/club circuit around the U.S. and Europe. Oscher's debut for Viceroots was produced by a longtime admirer, Dave Peverett, from the blues-rock quartet Foghat. ~ Richard Skelly