The Harmonicats 40th Anniversary Testimonial Concert 1981

It Was a Great Celebration . . . Thanks, Everyone? by Norm Dobson

This audio is taken from a cassette recording of most of the concert. Microphone placement and the age of the tape has affected the quality somewhat.

Edited from Harmonica Happenings, Spring 1981.

Well, the long awaited testimonial to the Jerry Murad Harmonicats is history. I can’t believe that back in September of 1979 when I first began to plan this event, that time would fly by so quickly. You have, I’m sure, by now heard from those who were here on there that the weekend was a complete success.

I personally am indebted to first of all, the harmonica, to SPAH and Harmonica Happenings. The harmonica, of course, has become or is the common denominator. Through SPAH and H-H. I got to know so many harmonica players across the country, and met the German Blizza Harmonica Gang and through them, met many other European players. I am especially grateful to Jerry Murad’s Harmonicats — they made it all happen.

Jerry Murad, Al Fiore, Dick Gardner, and Pete Pedersen played a selection of four tunes from their classical LP, “Harmonica Rhapsody” and several more of their hits.

The “New Harmonic Tramps” of Switzerland, Ruedi Frey on the lead, Walti Noethinger on chord, and Heinz Stampfi, on bass played on the Friday night but were not recorded on this tape. Then followed the Harmonica Brothers of West Germany. The sextet is made up of two active trios, the Blizza Harmonica Gang of Gladbeck, West Germany – Siegfried Brugier, Eugen Feltin, and Svegnar Kreitz – and the Picca Trio of Leichlingen, West Germany – Hans-Guenter Post, Adolf Nagel, and Ulrich Ott. They opened their show as a sextet playing a most impressive selection arranged by Leo Diamond entitled, “Japanese Sandman”. There then were three selections by the Picca Trio, followed by another selection by the Harmonica Brothers, and three tunes by the Blizza Harmonica Gang. It all ended with the sextet playing a Svegnar Kreitz arrangement of “Chancon d’amour.” Afterwards, the Germans presented the Harmonicats with three of the largest, ornate steins I’ve ever seen!

Among the notables in attendance were Leo Diamond. Time and space just won’t permit naming everyone. I was impressed with Joe Mass and his family of California, Al Smith , Earl Williams and Judy Simpson. Everyone was just great.

Then Jack totally surprised me with a document that left me speechless. The award read as follows:

PROCLAMATIONinsofar as the honorable NORM DOBSON never seems to run out of breath in the service of The Harmonica & Harmonica Players everywhere, he is hereby declared the Official & Perpetual WORLD AMBASSADOR FOR HARMONICA. Presented April 25, 1981, on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary Testimonial Dinner for Jerry Murad’s Harmonicats. M. Hohner, Inc. – Signed: Frank Hohner, Chariman, Lee James, President, Jack Kavoukian, Director of Marketing

There were five countries represented at the testimonial — Canada, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Holland. Unmentioned previously, Cy Segeal, Canada; Gautam Choudhury and Piet Moerer, Holland; and our dedicated travellers from Sweden, Ulf and Jan Wahlberg.

My sincere thanks again to all for their support, and to the many who made the long trek to Danvers — especially to the Jerry Murad Harmonicats and their wives. My oh my, “Wasn’t That A Party?”