Louisiana couple's unique harmonica business gets worldwide attention

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Curiosity, a love for the blues, and a harmonica were all a Ponchatoula couple needed to transform a hobby into a business. In tonight's Real New Orleans, Vanessa Bolano traveled to the North Shore to see how the two are changing the face of music from their garage.

Musician Johnny Sansone calls New Orleans home and the harmonica is his partner. He's been playing it since he was a boy, but only recently was he able to create a sound he had coveted for so many years. It’s thanks to Randy and Missy Landry, and their one-of-a-kind business born in a Ponchatoula garage.

“It's kind of like one of them rare moments where you kind of hit the nail on the head straight out the gate,” exclaims Randy.

This refinery operator by day and closet player by night started fussing around in his garage when he did it! He became the only one in the world to create effect pedals specifically for harmonicas.

“It's very common in the guitar world. Guitar players have been using pedals to add to their different tones different note structures since the '60s, but the harmonica players never really used them. The harmonica world is a very small niche market so they were ignored.”

Musician Johnny Sansone says, “When the sound was made, originally, when we listen to the records, what we're hearing is a lot of things that were done in the studio in Chicago in the late 40s early 50s. A lot of those were studio tricks; they were done through taking a sewer pipe and putting a speaker on one end of it and a microphone on the other side of it and then they would play through it and it would create this echo. What we're trying to do is recreate all that from the records we have. This is made specifically for the harmonica and to recreate a sound we all love.”

Imagine a little box that makes you sound like an old record. Once one musician heard about it, news spread throughout the world.

Missy remembers, “We couldn't believe it. It's like okay? Well, we'll build some more!”

The Landry's ship out about 1,000 pedals a year, and the couple track where they are going by sticking a pin in a world map; places as far as New Zealand, Kazakhstan, and Japan.

“First we were trying to put one in for every pedal, and said this ain't going to work, so we went down for just putting a pin in a city; not it's a pin in a country.”

30% of their pedals are shipped out of the United States. “We get Sweden calls at 2am. Someone want to order a pedal and I say we're closed right now; they don't realize that it's just a home,” says Missy.

It's a hobby that's turned into a business for Randy and his wife Missy. Operating under the name "Lone Wolf Blues", their pedals are sold online for under $200. The two are fine tuning music for millions to enjoy and satisfying the palate of harmonica players like Johnny Sansone! It's a one-of-a-kind story you won't find anywhere else!

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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