If you are new to harmonica or even if you have been at it awhile, you may hear players reference SPAH. No doubt you wonder what in the world they are talking about. Well SPAH stands for Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica (SPAH). It is a worldwide organization made up entirely of harmonica players. Although the organization supports a web site and also puts out a periodical publication that features all kinds of interesting harmonica information, the primary focus of SPAH is to put on a fantastic annual convention each year around the 2nd week of August.
The convention kicks off late Tuesday afternoon and ends sometime around midnight on Saturday. During the convention, attendees meet and interact with up to 500 harmonica players, many of whom are the world's best. During the day, attendees can attend incredible harmonica related seminars and hear great performances. In addition, there is a large vendor area where attendees can learn about and purchase harps, amps, microphones, and a host of accessories. Players can literally walk up to the manufacturer booths and talk directly to company representatives and even in some cases the CEOs and owners.
Starting at about 6:00 PM, harmonica performances start in an area known as the main stage. These performances feature outstanding players from all genre and the musicianship is just incredible. These shows go on until about 10:00 PM and that's when the real fun starts. The entire hotel transforms into multiple musical jams that are open to players at all levels. The hotel halls, lobby, and individual convention rooms have player circles where everyone is free to play along. Among the convention attendees are guitar players, keyboardists, fiddlers, and mando and banjo pickers. It isn't uncommon at all to have these fine musicians leading jams that go until 2:00 Am.
SPAH is held at a different location each year although the convention is generally around the midwestern states. SPAH representatives seek out central locations that are easy to access and have economical convention facilities. Additionally, the SPAH convention relies heavily on hometown harmonica clubs who provide volunteer support leading up to and during the week.
SPAH 2019 will be held in Tulsa at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The Tulsa Hyatt is located downtown and in walking distance from all kinds of great dining spots. The hotel is ideally suited for the SPAH convention with spacious jam areas and a great main stage. The Tulsa Harmonica Club is tops and they are just fantastic hosts.
The SPAH web site has convention information and instructions on how to join this fine organization here
If you have questions about the SPAH convention, feel free to contact me here
You may also contact the SPAH representatives here