Harmonica player - blues, folk, rock
Born in New York City, Allen has been playing the harmonica for 35 years. Playing everything from blue grass to the blues, Allen has performed with musical headliners like John Sebastian, Leon Redbone, Tom Paxton, and the Edgar Winters Group.
The “Guide To Jazz and Blues In The USA” lists Allen as one of the blues performers to see when in the Indianapolis area.
Allen has introduced hundreds of people from all walks of life to harmonica playing. He teaches an award winning harmonica class for Indiana-Purdue University Continuing Studies, and gives private lessons to intermediate and advanced players.
He has performed as a harmonica playing Santa Claus before thousands at the Indiana Convention Center, and was recruited by director, Denise Lasalle to create a harmonica score to accompany the Indianapolis Civic Theater’s production of “The Foreigner".
Above all musical forms, Allen loves the blues. He has played blues harp as a member of the Yank Rachell blues band. Rachell the legendary blues mandolin player, and partner to harmonica great John lee ”Sonny Boy” Williamson has said of Allen:
“That Allen can really play the harmonica. He’s the best in town. He sounds like Sonny Boy”.
In a recent issue of “Steppin Out” Magazine music critic, Melvin Walden-James had this to say after hearing a performance of the Yank Rachell Blues Band:
“Finally the most dynamic and consistently expressive player, Allen Stratyner. His rhythmic feel and churning backfills on mouth harp are the identifying characteristics that will set this blues band apart from the others.”
Some of the other blues notables Allen has performed with include Pat and Chris Webb, Sugar Blue, James Harman Band, Andrea Faye of Saffire, The uppity Blues Women, Dave Morgan, Corky Siegal, Paul Orta And The Kingpins, Lonnie Brooks, Eddie Shaw Jr., Sons of The Blues, Big Joe and The Dynaflos, The Paladins, Cathy and Stuart Norton, Al Stone, and George Bedard and The Kingpins.
In 1989, Allen performed with two blues greats, “Pinetop” Perkins and Louis Myers at the first Indy Blues Festival.
In a review in “Blues Indy", the Blues Society Of Indiana magazine, Music critic, Steve Guy said:
“Stratyner gets better and wilder and more intense all the time. He drew approving glances from Myers, who has played with harp men the likes of Jr. Wells and Little Walter."
These days Allen performs with friends and fellow musicians, Pat Webb and Al Stone.
Pat is acknowledged to be one of the finest, high-energy acoustic guitar players in the country today. Stone a masterful musician, Engineer, and Producer provides a powerful “bottom” on his electric bass
The acoustic trio of, Webb-Stratyner-Stone produces a sound that honors the tradition of the blues and folk music that they love. Pat’s son, Chris Webb, a very talented songwriter, guitarist, and recording artist, occasionally joins them.
They perform with improvised abandon that excites audiences wherever they play.
Allen’s harmonica is featured on Pat’s, “Silver Lady And The Wild Stallion".
The recording contains one of Allen’s own compositions, ”Blues For Izzy".
He wrote this in honor of his Dad, the Accountant for many jazz greats like Stan Getz and Dizzy Gillespie. Allen's Brother, Harris, uses "Blues For Izzy" as the theme song for his very popular Westchester, NY radio show, "Here's To Your Good Health" which is heard every Sunday at 10:AM Eastern Standard time on WFAS AM 1230.
Delta Snake said of Allen’s playing on “Silver Lady And The Wild Stallion“
“He performs masterfully, playing sweet and low”.
Indianapolis Star music critic, Marc Alan named “Silver Lady And The Wild Stallion” the best release of 1994 produced by an independent record company, and wrote “it contains some of the most soulful music I have ever heard."
Blues Access Magazine called “Silver Lady” - “First class, impeccable, small combo acoustic blues”.
Allen had the honor of producing and playing harmonica on “Too Hot For The Devil”. This was the last recording made by the legendary blues mandolin man, James”Yank” Rachell. Yank recorded in Aurora, Illinois in the 30’s with the great harmonica man, John Lee“ Sonny Boy” Williamson, and his song “She Caught the Katie” is the first song played in the original “Blues Brothers” movie.
Blues Revue Magazine had these comments regarding Allen’s playing on “Too Hot For The Devil” “Stratyner’s harp is perfect in the way it compliments the mandolin riffs, lilting lightly in the fills, and sassing brightly on the solos.”
John Sebastian, Grammy award winning leader of “The Loving Spoonful” had this to say about the recording:
“Pat Webb’s friendship with fellow long-time Indianapolis resident Yank Rachell probably went a long way toward making this recording as extraordinary as it is. Yank’s Brownsville, Tennessee jug band blues require real finesse from his accompanists. You got to be light on your feet to romp, but you gotta have steely nerves to let those mandolin blasts roll out across the bars knowing Yank will tie it all up at the end of the phrase. Pat Webb and Allen Stratyner have all that. Between the three they’ve managed something almost impossible in the modern age, presenting Yank’s delicate genius without oversimplifying or overplaying.”
“Some of Yank’s best work” John Sebastian International Recording Artist and
member of The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame
"This is the best country blues CD I've heard in over ten years!" "Sunshine" Sunny Payne, host of the legendary KFFA
"King Biscuit Time" in West Helena Arkansas
In late 1998, award winning photo Journalist, Jim Hall, picked Allen as the subject of a feature news story called “Big Blues” about a musician who speaks in two languages I.E., the language of the computer(Allen is also a software consultant), and the more soulful language of the blues harmonica. This seven minute piece was aired in prime time on Christmas night on a major Indianapolis news broadcast. The feature received the prestigious "Edward R. Murrow Regional Award" as feature news story of 1998. This means it won out over all entries submitted from cities like Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Detroit.
It also has just been nominated for five different news Emmy Awards!
Recently WISH TV – “Indiana’s Own” hosted by news veteran, Ray Rice, also aired a segment, which featured Allen as a performer and harmonica instructor.
Another recent article in Indianapolis Eye Magazine gave Allen’s performance this review:
Stratyner, a magician on the harp
Blues Band player, Allen Stratyner, amazed me. A long-standing veteran of the harp going back decades, Stratyner was traditionally known for his playing of country blues-style harp, and had played and recorded notably in this vein, with excellent local acoustic guitarists Pat Webb and David Morgan, and with Indianapolis’ own late blues legend, the Blues Mandolin Man himself, Yank Rachell. But only in the past year-and-a-half had Stratyner taken up the amplified city harp made famous by the classic bands and players of modern Chicago blues, a style of playing directly into a hand-cupped microphone, using licks that give it an intense, sax-like quality that was majorly different from the more relaxed country harp playing. And yet, Stratyner had become a master at it, learning the approaches of Chicago harp masters such as Little Walter, Big Walter Horton, Junior Wells and James Cotton, while also perfecting his own original approach to this instrument. In fact, Stratyner had perfected his city harp so much that he was able to play with the legendary, octogenarian, Chicago-from-Mississippi piano man, Pinetop Perkins.