SPAH – The first 20 years

The Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica, SPAH, was founded in 1963 by Earl Collins (1924-88), Gordon Mitchell (1927-2001) and Richard Harris (1938-2015). Fortunately, the youngest member of the trio, Richard Harris, was an enthusiastic photographer and recording engineer so you get a chance to hear the history of SPAH as it was happening.

This blog post is taken from a cassette tape of the soundtrack of a video that Richard made in 1983, from his vast archive of recordings, to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of SPAH. It is tribute to Richard Harris as well as SPAH. Richard was ahead of his time. Without his foresight and hard work this detailed audio history would not have been possible.

Here are Richard’s notes which accompanied the cassette he sent.

SPAH – The First 20-Years – featuring “THE HARMONICA MEN”, trio. Produced and narrated by: Richard Harris.
History of SPAH via music and the spoken word. Relive excerpts from the first SPAH meeting, Dec. 1962. Here the voice of founder Earl Collins, words of wisdom from harmonica greats like Tommy Reilly, Blackie Shackner. Remember firsts such as Richard Hayman’s Harmonica Concerto, April 1978, the first CanSPAH concert November 1965. And the radio and TV programs – a sampling includes the “I’ve Got A Secret” Show and the 8′ harmonica that stumped the panel. But, that’s history – history that will be remembered by early SPAH members and now 20 years later by you. All on a premium cassette in stereo (recorded 1983 converted to digital in 2018).

You can read more about the history of SPAH by visiting the excellent SPAH Archives webpage written by Manfred Wewers.

Harmonica Groups at Christmas

Seasonal Christmas music played by Harmonica Groups – chromatic, chord and bass harmonicas – The Harmonica Men, The New Don Les Harmonicats, Harmonicas International (James Hughes/Rob Janssen), Chris Bauer, Charlie McCoy and Pete Pedersen.
The Madcats – Joe di Fulvio, Carl Ford and Vinnie Yurgelis
The Harmonica Men – Merry Christmas – Richard Harris (Chromatic), Gene Hansen (Chord) and Larry Van (Bass)
Don Les Harmonicats – Christmas – Don Les (Bass) – Mildred Mulcay (Chromatic) – Bob Herndon (Chord´╗┐)
Harmonicas International – Christmas Harmonica – Jim Hughes & Ivan Richards (Chromatic), Rob Jannsen (Chord), Ronald Kamminga (Bass)

Track Listing for Harmonica Groups at Christmas
1 – Start – Pete Pedersen – 00:00
2 – Harmonica Men – We Wish You a Merry Christmas – 00:39
3 – Don Les Harmonicats – Jingle Bells – 01:34
4 – Harmonicas International James Hughes – Christmas Song – 04:09
5 – Charlie McCoy – Christmas Cheer – 05:34
6 – Harmonica Men – Let it Snow – 08:10
7 – Harmonicats – Nutcracker Suite – 09:46
8 – The Madcats – Sleigh Ride – 13:33
9 – Chris Bauer – Frosty the Snowman – 16:27
10 – Harmonicas International James Hughes – Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer – 20:35
11 – Harmonica Men – White Christmas – 23:29
12 – Don Les – We Three Kings – 26:17
13 – Harmonicas International James Hughes – Winter Wonderland – 28:47