Convention

As you may know, the 58th Annual SPAH Convention was scheduled to be held in Charlotte, NC, from August 10-15, 2021. After considering the alternatives, watching the current progress of the US and international fight against the virus and its new variants, and reviewing alternatives for the 2021 Convention, with very mixed emotions the SPAH Board and Staff has decided to hold the Convention virtually again in 2021: “SPAH Week 2021.”
 
The Sheraton Charlotte is a fabulous facility with two hotels and a large conference area. We hope to schedule a Convention at the same location in the future. Please join us in thanking Don Ceasar for inviting us to Charlotte, and Marty Gunther and the Charlotte Blues Society for their invaluable support.

Those of you who attended in 2020 know how much fun we had together and how much financial help we provided our performing and teaching community. We are building on what we accomplished in 2020, adding many of the ideas suggested by members and others, to bring you an even better, more comprehensive and exciting event in 2021.

Paramount in our decision was to ensure the health and safety of our members, their friends & families, and the SPAH staff and performers. Hundreds of people playing harmonica in an enclosed space would be a risky business during these times, even with the most optimistic projections for vaccination and immunity for this August. Thanks to all prior attendees who replied to our December survey. We know that many of you would love to attend “SPAH” in person soon, when it is safe. We would too!

With more time to plan than last year, we are focusing our energy to bring you the best event possible. The Entertainment Committee is now recruiting performers, including many of those who were booked to perform in 2020. We will post more in the coming weeks as we confirm participation. The Youth Committee will also bring some of the best Youth performers to the stage during SPAH Week 2021. Our seminar team will soon be reaching out to our teaching community to schedule an even more comprehensive seminar series.
Information about registration for SPAH Week 2021 is published here. Further details will be provided in plenty of time to get your seat! 
Please stay safe and healthy.
 
Volunteer Opportunity
We need volunteers to assist as seminar hosts for the week as we broaden the seminar content. Please email info@SPAH.org with your interest in supporting SPAH Week as a host in 2021. Hosts introduce & assist the presenters, call out attendee “chat” questions when requested, and manage transitions into and out of each break. There are usually two hosts for each seminar series, primary and a backup.


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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. 

 

VENDORS

 


 

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!


DAYTIME 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.

 

PERFORMANCES

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!