The Setlist: Carson Diersing takes his blues to Memphis


It's no surprise that Old Soul is the name of Carson Diersing's current band.

People have used the complimentary term to describe Diersing's musical aptitude for years -- and the harmonica player who lives in Shelby County is only 16.

On Jan. 24, the Old Soul lineup of Diersing and fellow teenagers Alex Poisal (16, on bass guitar) and Zach Bulgarelli (18, on drums) will represent the Indiana Blues Society at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn.

The event, sponsored by the Blues Foundation, includes a youth showcase amid competitions for solo/duo acts, bands and instrumentalists.

"I really like the sound of the harmonica, harmonica is an extension of the human voice." - Carson Diersing

Diersing will attend the International Blues Challenge for the third time, following visits in 2010 and 2011.

"You become friends and look forward to seeing each other at different blues events," Diersing said of the blues community. "It feels like family."

On Jan. 23, Diersing will sit in with Virginia band In Layman Terms at the Rum Boogie Cafe on Beale Street.

In 2013, Diersing's onstage collaborations included a show with former Muddy Waters guitarist Bob Margolin at the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Ark., and a cameo with indie-folk band Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros at FloydFest in Floyd, Va.

"I liked playing with Bob Margolin because he treated me like a friend," Diersing said. "Bob is one of the best guitar players I have ever seen, tone-wise, and to perform with him was an honor."

Diersing characterized the Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros experience as his most memorable to date.

"There were 12 people all at once onstage, mostly playing different instruments," Diersing said. "They have such a big sound, something I never experienced before -- let alone performing in front of a sold-out crowd."

At 14, Diersing became the youngest harmonica player to be endorsed by Hohner, the instrument manufacturer associated with John Popper of Blues Traveler and Kim Wilson of the Fabulous Thunderbirds.

While he also sings and plays guitar, Diersing said he enjoys harmonica the most.

"I really like the sound of the harmonica," said Diersing, who is recording an album for release this year. "Harmonica is an extension of the human voice."

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