SPAH: Celebrating 60 years of harmonicas, music and friends
The annual SPAH Convention is America’s biggest harmonica party!
Held in a different city every year, the SPAH Convention is a five day event that features seminars, jams, and world-class performances by and for players of all types of harmonica and all genres of music!
The 60th anniversary SPAH Convention will take place at the Sheraton Westport Chalet, in St. Louis, M), USA August 15-20, 2023. Please join us! Registration and hotel bookings open March 1, 2023. Stay tuned for details!
The 2022 SPAH Convention took place on August 9-13, at the Hyatt Regency Downtown, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The SPAH Convention has been held annually in a different US city each year since 1963. The SPAH Convention brings together players and enthusiasts of all abilities for 5 days of companionship, learning, playing, performances, and fun! You will find no more welcoming group than the SPAH community.
The convention starts on Tuesday afternoon with a welcome reception, hosted by SPAH and the local Harmonica Club. The evening is yours, to settle in, say “hello” to old friends, meet new ones and enjoy the city.
On Tuesday evening, the International Blues Blowoff holds their annual event in a nearby concert venue, and many SPAH attendees perform and attend. Always an excellent show!
Others remain at the hotel to play in the hallways spontaneous hallway playing sessions. These continue all week at pretty much all times, covering a variety of musical styles, and wherever a convenient location is available in the hotel.
Open daily, there is also a vendor area with booths manned by the world’s major harmonica manufacturers together with smaller makers of specialty items such as harmonica cases, microphones, custom-made parts, and more. CDs by the convention’s featured artists and others are also available, and usually at least one repair booth is open to repair harmonicas.
On Friday afternoon SPAH hosts a Swap Meet, where buyers and sellers can meet, and bring their harmonica-related items to sell, or browse those brought by others to pick up a unique instrument, piece of music or maybe a recording. You never know what will be there!
Daily Seminars & Activities
Starting Wednesday morning, from 9am to 5pm each day, there are seminars on a broad range of topics—from harmonica history or music theory to harmonica maintenance and singing —addressing all levels of playing ability and types of harmonicas. The topics and presenters change every year, so you never know what you might be able to learn!
Starting on Thursday, each afternoon the ballroom is given over to the Teach-in. The Teach-in offers more than a dozen harmonica experts, each anchoring their own table, teaching small groups on a topic of their choosing. You can walk around and sit in with whoever sounds interesting to you. A must-see event for first-timers and returning conventioneers alike!
On Friday and Saturday mornings there are seminars specifically for youth, open to the public through the SPAH Youth Outreach Program, and hosted by an teacher experienced in working with young people.
Daytime Sightseeing Tours are offered by our local Harmonica Club as a pleasant diversion to those who may not be as deeply fascinated by the harmonica as their partners. Reservations required.
Saturday morning features a “Spouses” Breakfast open to all partners of our players, and the President’s Breakfast to bring together harmonica club leadership and manufacturer’s representatives. Reservations required.
After breakfast, there is a world-class Gospel Show on Main Stage for all to enjoy, open free to the public! On
Saturday afternoon, SPAH holds its Annual General Meeting (AGM), where the SPAH board and staff explain what’s happening at SPAH, and attendees have an opportunity to ask questions.
ATTENDEE PERFORMANCES & JAMS
The open mic stage typically runs from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. It offers performance opportunity to anyone who wants to get on stage and show their stuff. SPAH provides PA and microphones, and there are open channels for your music player, keyboard or other gear, you must bring all needed cables or adapters for these personal items. Don’t forget to join in one of the hallway jams you will pass as you wander around the Convention – you will find old friends and meet new ones!
The SPAH Convention’s legendary after-hours jam sessions take place Wed – Sat night as soon as the ballroom concerts let out. There are separate sessions for blues, bluegrass, country and jazz. These often run well into the wee hours, all players are welcome.
There are daily concerts each afternoon starting with the ever-popular Blues Showcase (Main Stage) on Wednesday, followed on Thursday and Friday (Founders’ Stage ) by concerts showcasing up and coming as well as top performers, plus the SPAH Youth Scholarship recipients
At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; concerts are presented on Main Stage, featuring some of the finest harmonica talent from across the USA and around the world. Concerts are open to the public for a small fee, payable at Registration or at the door.
Saturday evening brings a cocktail reception, the gala banquet and our awards ceremony, followed by our final Main Stage concert and a raffle benefitting the SPAH Rosebush Youth Scholarship Fund. Many attendees like to dress up for this final celebration together.