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Last week I was at SPAH50; this is the Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica's 50th annual convention, and is the US main umbrella group for harmonica players. There are many area groups as well and this year Gateway Harmonica hosted the convention in St Louis Missouri.


A long way from my home in the UK and but I was giving a seminar and doing some other teaching so worth the pain of flying!

Wednesday 14.08.13


First full day at SPAH.ORG has been interesting and overwhelming.


Being still a bit jetlagged I couldn’t make Michael Rubin’s beginners blues jam at 08.30 but did see him doing a workshop on 3rd position to a packed house.


There was a theory class ‘for scaredycats’ and a ‘harmonica for meditation and relaxation’ that was on at the same time at the 3rd position workshop.


Bob Kessler did an excellent seminar on composing using an iPad app ‘LooperHD’ where he showed how you can compose with multi layers on this simple app using multiple harmonicas – it looks so simple I might try it myself.


Later Roger Trobridge showed some of his NHL harmonica movies but only extracts – he needed a 59-hour extension to cover the whole thing.


Jimmie Lee taught about ‘Every groove a bluesman needs to know’ explaining how he’s categorized everything from a Texas shuffle, the ‘flat tyre’, a Bo Diddley to a jazz swing. More on his site no doubt.


Jason Rosenblatt taught advanced diatonic theory using many klezmer scales, which I enjoyed – especially ‘Freygish’ that is Phrygian mode with a sharp 3. The klezmer guys turn some of the normal modes into eastern European hybrids it would seem. Cunning stuff and worth exploring.


If you go to any seminar you miss four others so ‘Chord Structures’, ‘Soulful Beats from the Heart’, ‘Rhythm Games’, ‘Basic Chrom’, ‘Nashville Numbering’, Jazz Impro’, and ‘Pulmonica’ were the ones I missed.


I also located the only place where you can’t hear any harmonicas – in the pool under the water. Still a bit overwhelmed by the talent, performances, seminars and people I consider famous wandering about being friendly and approachable.


More coming...


Ben Hewlett

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