The SPAH 2020 Convention in St. Louis has unfortunately been cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns.
However, please keep August 11-15 on your calendar open for “SPAH Week!"
The SPAH board is now planning a “SPAH Week” of online seminars, performances, and some “general sessions” where we can all join together for a few moments. SPAH will cover any administrative costs, and also be dedicating funds to pay a small honorarium to each teacher and performer to help them during this difficult time. You will be able to contribute to the fund and help us double or triple the SPAH pledge. All donated funds will go to the performers and teachers involved. Stay tuned to www.SPAH.org
and the SPAH Facebook site for details.
In addition, we will be giving you the opportunity to join us for all of these activities at no cost to you
. Also, we will ask you to join us for an Awards Ceremony on Saturday August 15. Please take note of the Awards section, coming soon, where you will find how to nominate the winner of each of the three annual SPAH Awards. Please take the time to send in your nominations, as the Awards Committee can only select a winner from member nominees!
We have extended the deadline for nominations to July 31, 2020. On that same Saturday, we also ask you to join us for the online SPAH Annual General Meeting
, which will be held during the afternoon at 3:30 pm US Central Time. All SPAH members are invited to attend.
We will publish an online schedule of seminars, performances, and other events and access details by the end of July so that you can plan your time. We truly hope you will join us “virtually” so we can spend some time together and provide a little financial support to our community of teachers and performers. We are also digitizing some old SPAH Convention audio and video and will have those available for you to listen to during SPAH Week.
SPAH 2021 will be held at the Charlotte Sheraton, in Charlotte, NC from August 10-14, 2021!
To this end, in addition to offering a refund for your paid 2020 registration, you will also be able to choose to leave the funds with SPAH to be applied towards SPAH 2021
. In taking this choice, you will be guaranteed no increase in registration costs for 2021, and we will thank you with a free St Louis 2018 T-Shirt or poster upon arrival in Charlotte. Alternatively, you will also be able to choose to donate your 2020 registration fee to the performers and teachers who will be working during SPAH Week. SPAH will add 100% of these donations to the fund we use to pay them for their time. So, you will have one of 3 choices! Note that the choice is only for the Convention portion of your payment, not any membership renewal you paid at the same time. See below for more information. Those who have already registered for the convention will receive additional information via email.
We are excited about our visit to Charlotte next year. Our hosts will be the Charlotte Blues Society, who are eager to welcome us to their wonderful city, as well as our own Don Ceasar who lives in the area. The Sheraton (and its sister Le Meridien Hotel) are located downtown within walking distance of many local establishments, and there is plenty of space for us to enjoy our 2021 Convention!
Lastly, please remember that SPAH depends on your membership renewal to continue to provide you with the magazine and other membership benefits, such as discounts on third party workshops. If you typically renew your membership when you register for the Convention, please renew your membership now!
Paid Registration Alternatives
For those of you who have already paid your 2020 Convention Registration, SPAH offers three choices for what to do with the Convention registration portion of your payment (i.e., no refunds for your membership renewal). SPAH will contact you by email (or phone if no email provided) in May to determine your choice from the following:
- REFUND: A full refund will be mailed to you in the form of a check—as this will be done manually, please allow some time to receive your refund.
- APPLY to 2021: You can elect to have your refund applied to paid-up registration for the 2021 Convention in Charlotte, NC, scheduled for August 10-14, 2021, guaranteeing no price increase.
- DONATE: You can choose to donate your refund to the performers and teachers appearing online during SPAH Week. All funds donated will be fairly distributed to the recipients, many of whom are in desperate need of income during this time.
In addition to the above choice for your prepaid registration, any vendors who have paid for their booth at the 2020 Convention will receive a full refund of their fees. Phil Duncan and Jim Vetter will contact you directly to answer any questions.
The annual SPAH Awards will proceed as usual, except that your deadline for nominating a recipient for 2020 is moved to July 31, 2020 to give everyone plenty of time. The Awards will be announced online during SPAH Week.
Performers and Presenters
SPAH intends to promote a series of short online workshops (1 hour) and performances (20-25 minutes) during SPAH Week, August 11-15, 2020. Details are being worked out at this time, and one of the Seminar or Entertainment team will contact you directly with details. As part of this, SPAH will promote and coordinate these daily concerts and workshops, and contribute to a fund to compensate fairly all who participate. Although there are details to be worked out, we hope that you will be able to promote your own merchandise for purchase in these sessions. SPAH members, sponsors, vendors and others can also donate to this fund at www.SPAH.org
SPAH Annual General Meeting
The SPAH Annual General Meeting will continue as scheduled, at 3:30pm Central Time on Saturday August 15th. SPAH will publish a dial-in phone number for all to attend in the SPAH Week schedule.
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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!
Here is an outline of what a day at the SPAH Convention is like:
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!
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.
See you at the next SPAH Convention!