The 3rd Annual Harp Guitar Gathering


September 2-4, 2005, Portland and Salem, Oregon
Hosted by John Doan

Schedule of Events with Photos

HGG3 Video Clips

Slide Shows

Event highlights as remembered by the attendees in their own words:
(additional captions by Gregg Miner)
Photo credits at page bottom


Stephen Bennett

See and hear Stephen perform:
Tenochtitlan
What a Wonderful World

As the founder (instigator might be another word one could use) of the Harp Guitar Gathering, I am completely tickled by what we have done in three years.  The first one of these events was driven by my own curiosity to see what would happen by bringing a few of us together.  When that proved completely successful, I wondered if it could be repeated.  It was, and then some.  Now that John has led us through HGG 3 in Oregon, we are clearly onto something that has assumed a life of its own.  Something pretty cool, I think...

No pressure, Andy...

And my favorite moments:

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- Jamming with everyone at the hotel. - Playing later that night up in Andy and Dan's room.

- Watching the luthier discussion - that's a lot of talent!

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- Seeing the stage in Salem with all of those instruments!

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- Hearing Gregg's new piece.  

- Not running the event this time!  

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Nate Blaustein


with Fred Carlson's irrepressible "Big Red"

- Private lesson from Stephan Bennett...and a private 3am Concert by McKee, LaVoie and Bennett!

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- McKee watching me play a piece then saying:  You use your pinky?... You're weird, man!!!

- Playing in the round robin and not getting hit by the rotten tomatos!

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- Water is wide!!! Got it right this year!

- Hearing Stacy play Dust in the Wind.

hobbs-carlson.jpg (55196 bytes) - Hearing the Eaton/Carlson jam!

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- William Eaton describing the gathering as "A place where everything comes together... a place where rivers meet.

- Gregg's wild moments on mandolin (or was it a uke?) and harp zither!

miner2-allen.jpg (87429 bytes) - Love the Gnomes!!!! mckee-doolin.jpg (100906 bytes) - Dinner with everyone before going to Doan's reception (which I missed).  We did not know where everyone was and the hostess asked us which party we were with.  We did not know until she said that one party had a guitar with it.... That's us!  Then Dan Lavoie ordering a burger at a seafood restaurant (Jersey boy!)

(It's a Knutsen harp mandolin, and it was the Knutsen "Zither Harp Guitar").

Andy, a self-professed geek, debuted his new Gnome City tune over the weekend. It is a complete coincidence that Andy resembles a cross between Peter Jackson and a hobbit.


Fred Carlson


Fred and Big Red

- John Doan being so sweet and elegant and funny. doan-doolin.jpg (49644 bytes) miner_show-miner.jpg (130044 bytes) - Gregg's amazing instrument collection and boundless passion for it all; getting to meet Jaci.
- Having some new faces, players and builders including the wonderful William Eaton and the amazing Jeff Titus (what a treat to hear an instrument I made played like that!!). eaton1-doolin.jpg (85347 bytes)

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shinness-allen.jpg (96674 bytes) - Tom Shinness's remarkable "Hot Lips" creation.

- Those guys from Idaho (Rex James) and their very cool self-made instruments.

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Dave Powell of Rex James
- Stephen Bennett singing that song (one of my favorite moments!).

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The only thing more warm and comforting than Stephen playing “What a Wonderful World” is Stephen singing it, which he did to great response for his closing set.

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- Andy Wahlberg being completely, gloriously himself, with harmonica and mouth trumpet to boot!

- Late night songs and tunes with Nancy and others at the Doans'

doans-jam-sun-doan.jpg (84435 bytes) - Meeting John Sullivan (builder of John's and other HGs) sullivan-blaustein.jpg (85874 bytes) elliott-blaustein.jpg (65370 bytes)

- Seeing old friends Jeff Elliot and Cyndy Burton

- Mike Doolin working his butt off to keep the sound happening

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Stephen Bennett prepares to give Mike his pink slip...
- That beautiful new harp guitar by Duane Noble (and all the other wonderful instruments!) noble-blaustein.jpg (61348 bytes)

- Of course the trip up to Salem was also wonderful, filled with camaraderie, camping, performing, playing and generally enjoying the company of Ben and Anne-Sophie, Gregg and the Titus's.


John Doan


It was a great honor to host the Harp Guitar Gathering in Salem this year. I got to see many of my harp guitar friends and hear some beautiful music and more than that, I got to share it all with many of  my local friends and community. It took on the character of a family reunion and it warms my heart to know that so many who attended had the times of their lives.

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So many great players gave of their time and talents sharing generously their love of the instrument.

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Luthiers from four countries shared years of experience to keep us all up to date on the latest design ideas for the instrument.

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The instrument show (65 in all) was a feast for the eyes. Many thanks to Gregg Miner for his generosity in sharing some of his most prized specimens.

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And then there were the late night jams. Players of all levels joined in the fun.

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And then there were those behind the scenes that made it all happen. Many thanks to Mike Doolin for hosting the luthiers and for doing the sound for all the event.

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There were unsung heroes who selflessly helped out were needed like my wife Deirdra, Gregg's wife Jaci, and Carol Hartman selling CD's, DVD's, tee-shirts, tickets, etc.

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I had a great time chronicling our harp guitar story in the DVD "In Search of the Harp Guitar." It would not have been possible without the many donated hours of Karla Fisher and Mike King. I hope you enjoyed the documentary and will get copies for your friends.

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Lastly, it was great to see our humble group grow with so many new faces attending. We even had some amazing new (to us) players to share the stage like William Eaton....

So many great people made for so many great memories!


Mike Doolin

- The music. Each player is so good and so original that it's almost impossible to name a favorite, but if I had to I guess it would be Stephen Bennett. His playing moves me in a way very few performers can. bennett-doolin.jpg (101807 bytes)
The people. Something about these instruments attracts the most amazing group of people - talented, funny, creative, warm and enthusiastic, their combined energies propel the Gathering forward such that days feel like hours, and yet special moments hang suspended in time. water3-allen.jpg (271385 bytes)
The instruments. The spectacle of 65 harp guitars on stage is a sight I won't soon forget, and each one is a glimpse into the creative mind of some imaginative luthier. doan-titus.jpg (110963 bytes)

Frank Doucette


...with Nate Blaustein's Hewett HG.

- Spending Gregg and Jaci’s anniversary with Jaci while Gregg flirted with his (harp guitar) mistresses.

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I'll kill you Doucette!

- Finding out that Andy McKee is an even bigger geek than me (can’t wait for the Gnome CD!!!) mckee-allen.jpg (103236 bytes)

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Noble and Noble.

-Commandeering Duane Noble’s beautiful harp guitar for The Water is Wide. ALL of the wonderful music (on stage and off), including: Fred Carlson singing and playing clawhammer sympitar; Gregg’s cool new harp mando tune; Stacy’s brilliant arrangement of Dust in the Wind, Stephen Bennett’s beautiful Beatles tunes; Andy Wahlberg’s fabulous mouth trumpet and harp guitar duet; Jeff Titus and the oh-so-cool Oracle; late night music at the hotel; and Nancy Conescu and the band of odd instruments at the Doan’s wonderful party.

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- ALL those lovely harp guitars on one stage. - Of course, as others have already mentioned, it was a major highlight to get reacquainted with old friends from HGG 2 and to meet some great new friends as well.  I can’t wait for HGG 4!

Jean Cammon Findlay
(Gathering Attendee, Guest of Honor)


Jean and Gilbert Findlay

On the drive home from Salem, Gilbert asked who/what was best.  That kept me quiet for almost a hundred miles, and I finally decided you could apply that kind of superlative to the entire weekend, but not to any one moment:  it was all amazing.

I long wondered what a harp guitar sounded like after I first connected my cousin Chris Knutsen with the strange instrument in my Uncle Bob’s west bedroom on Anderson Island.  I had the unbelievable good fortune to meet Gregg Miner in 2003, and he played his harp guitar—the 1898 one like mine—so  I heard it, but I didn’t really get a sense of the variety, the exquisiteness, until Saturday night’s concert.  For me, the range was illustrated by, on the one hand, the divinity of Stacy Hobbs’s “Amazing Grace” to, on the other, honky tonk of Andy Wahlberg’s “You call it Jogging; I call it Running Around,” coupled with Stacy and Stephen Bennett falling into the “Canon in D” when they were just fooling around.  “Jogging,” with the harmonica and the “trumpet” comically underscored that the harp guitar is already two or three instruments played simultaneously.  All this was underscored by hearing Gregg play the historic instruments so beautifully.  The whole concert was breathtaking in its richness and variety.

Something I loved was everyone’s sense of humor.  All those puns (“could write a book—now there’s a novel idea”).  I’m used to hearing that kind of word play from my husband’s English department colleagues, but it was fun to realize that it isn’t profession-specific, it’s just creative minds at work.  But most impressive was the musicianship, the support, and the sharing among all these talented people.  Stephen Bennett’s guitar seems like an extension of his very being.

Before we attended the conference, I already had my icons whose names could make me swoon:  Gregg Miner whose support and suggestions have provided more avenues for my research on Chris Knutsen, and every hour for the three days demonstrated Gregg’s generosity and passion. Kerry Char—repairer extraordinaire who made our instrument whole again.  John Doan—a West Coast expert whose music was the first I found five years ago.  Jeanette and John Detlor—what a thrill to touch the hand of someone whose grandfather actually knew, spoke with, worked with my relative.  It gave me a tangible connection to the past, especially in the absence of my being able to find a real living descendant for Chris.  Tom Noe, who with Dan Most, wrote a paean to Chris and his creations.  I was so lucky to meet Dan a year before he died and have him talk with me about and handle our harp guitar, a magical day when I “gave” Dan the first 30 years of Chris’s life and he gave me much of the last 40.  And now Tom, too, at last.  Robert Hartman whose book provided my first real information about Chris and our family guitar. Wow.  I had ordered that book through interlibrary loan in 1999, but when it came the CD was missing.  I had to wait all this time to hear Muriel Anderson play, and when I did, at last, it was in person.  It was certainly worth the wait.  And on beyond these people, there are lots more icons to cherish now: every person on that stage provided some new insight into the world of the harp guitar in particular and music in general.

The conference topics seemed tailor-made for my questions.  How do you compose music (and I thought Sibelius was a person).  And how do you write it down.  In a way, I was relieved to find I wasn’t all that ignorant—it is a problem and musicians don’t know the best way either.  I loved seeing the historical instruments but was especially thrilled by the beauty of the contemporary curvilinear designs—talk about harmony personified.

It was a great weekend.  The very best.  Replete.  I wasn’t left wanting anything, except possibly more understanding of how the instrument was really used and what music was played on it, say 1900-1930.  Maybe a topic for next time?


Stacy Hobbs

See and hear Stacy perform:
Scarborough Fair
 
Dust in the Wind
Composing Clinic

- Being in a dream sandwich with Bennett and Doan, what more is there?!! playing-hobbs.jpg (110858 bytes) ... except maybe the impromptu, private lesson, CD trade and photo op with the legendary Mason Williams. Sorry guys, you should have had your radar up!
- Jamming with Bennett on Georgia late Sat night at the hotel. jam_bennett,hobbs-blaustein.jpg (116053 bytes) doan_harpolyre-hobbs.jpg (101082 bytes) - Spending time with John and watching him rock out on his new Harpolyre.

- Watching Gregg go by in a flurry of activity setting up on Sat morn…not to mention being his little set-up slave (Friday), which, by the way was my pleasure, glad to do it Mr. Miner.

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Hooking up with the main man, Mr. Hartman himself and wife Carol.

- Meeting with my favorite new harp guitar repairman, Kerry Char.

- Meeting with new friends Tom Noe, Michael Dunn, Jeff Titus, William Eaton, Rex James Bros, Gregg’s wife Jaci, super host Deirdra Doan and others.

- The instruments, my God, the instruments! Big thanks to Gregg and others, again! 

miner_show-miner.jpg (130044 bytes) audience-hobbs.jpg (76229 bytes) - The audience, my God, the audience!
- Catching up with all past HGG players and hearing them perform their new tunes!  You guys and gals are rocking in a free world!

- The premier of the first ever documentary of In Search of the Harp Guitar, what a treat - thanks John, Deirdra, and Fisher-King productions!


Brad Hoyt


- Utilizing the bass strings on Steve's harp mandolin when playing a tune I wrote on a standard mandolin about 4 years ago..!

- Late night jamming with Dan Lavoie, Andy McKee and Stephen Bennett until around 3:30 am on Saturday night. jam_sat-doolin.jpg (83747 bytes) doans_porch-hoyt.jpg (177533 bytes) - Being invited to John's house for an excellent after event party.
- Gregg's instrument collection! miner_museum-hobbs.jpg (116940 bytes) rexjames,hoyt-hobbs.jpg (94466 bytes)
Brad with Dave and Tone Powell
Making new friends and getting to know people that I didn't get a chance to meet last year.

- Breathing the clean air and stopping by the Pacific Ocean while driving from Seattle to Portland on Friday.


Norman LeDonne

My HGGIII didn’t really have highlights.  It was more like a crescendo.  It began when I met Mike and Nancy at the airport on Thursday night (really more like Friday morning).  It was great to see them both again.  There, I gave Mike my already-spectacular guitar so that he could make it even better!

Friday, the crescendo continued.  I went to Mike’s to pick up my improved guitar.  Then we both went to PSU (wow that’s hard for me.  Here in Philly, PSU is Penn State University ) to get ready for Friday night’s concert.  We hauled the guitars and sound system into the auditorium, which was cool since it reminded me of when I played in rock bands back in my youth; my time playing in rock bands was one of the best times of my life.  Of course, the concert was fantabulous.  The harp guitarists were as great as I remembered, and I saw two new ones – William Eaton and Jeff Titus – who were as great as the rest!  Friday night was the first jam session, which was a ball.

Saturday broke early, and I had great conversations at breakfast about harp guitars, trips, music, and other stuff.  The Saturday sessions were informative, fun, exciting and entertaining.  And, there were a bazillion harp guitars on stage.  How exiting was that?  Then came the Saturday concert.  By this time, everyone was warmed up, loosened up, and over their jet lag(?).  Saturday’s concert was even better than Fridays!  The crescendo continued.  Then the Saturday night jam session began, but didn’t last as long as I would have liked.  There was music, singing, dancing, playing, swapping guitars, trying guitars, and what else?  Okay, I really didn’t see any dancing.

Sunday started a little more laid back than Saturday.  I had the opportunity to play a song I wrote for the open mike session.  I was nervous, but that’s okay.  I got great advice and encouragement, which more than made up for the nervousness.  Next time, I’ll do better.  The sessions, and the weekend, culminated with “harp guitars on steroids”.  After seeing some new (for me) techniques, we were all treated to a wall of steroid-laden sound emanating from a few harp guitars.  I think they made the room a little larger by the time that they were done.  A relaxing dinner with many of the harp guitarists closed the evening for me, along with good-byes until next time. 

The trip home was something else.  I thought that my mind would explode from the music, songs, and ideas from the weekend.  My harp guitar arrived in Philly safe and sound, as did I.  What more can someone ask of a weekend, except “when is the next one?”


Laura Lind
(Gathering Attendee)

Dear John,  Thanks to you and your trusty musical cohorts, I know 96% more about  harp-guitars and so many more multi-stringed instruments than I did  before attending HGG3. 
I truly enjoyed it all and the circle of people involved. Gregg's collection is superior. I sing and play diatonic custom made autoharps, have a recording up there in the ether and have a more current duet called, "52-Pick Up" with a Swedish Nyckelharpa player. (52 strings between the two of us...)

I attended your gathering with Don Bradley and played the autoharp in your parlor. I was so impressed with your film that I pitched the idea of doing something similar to the autoharp community, which is one of those rather obscure one's as well... I helped get the California Autoharp Gathering off the ground. Autoharps have made our mark in your North-wet with the Willamette Autoharp Festival over ten years running... There is one autoharp luthier, Pete Daigle near Seattle (most are in Pennsylvania) and a handful of known players from the region including Bryan Bowers, the most well known of the autoharpers in the entire world out of Sedro- Wolley, WA.

"It's a commitment and a tuning dedication,
That will bring us all together in relation.
We have more strings than the rest.
It's a gathering of the best,
I hear the Harp-Guitars are calling once again." **

** Adapted from a song I recorded for the 2005 Mt. Laurel Autoharp Gathering in Pennsylvania.

Happy Tuning.


Gregg Miner


Introducing "The Friends I Finally Met" - my first new original composition in 20 years!

See and hear Gregg: Pre-Show Talk, Little Martha (short excerpts)

- The trip up with dear friends Fred, Benoit and Anne-Sophie, and new friends Jeff Titus and his wife; the trip back, relaxing with my wife Jaci. Story (of our misadventures) Coming Soon!
- Arriving at the Friday night hall, and the first thing I see is Tom Shinness with his incredible new invention.   shinness_friday-allen.jpg (122398 bytes)
- Finally visiting John and Deirdra’s spectacular home
(and making us so at home).
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- Visiting my warm and wonderful research partners and their spouses – Jean Findlay, Bob Hartman, Tom Noe and Jeanette Detlor (meeting the last two face to face at last!).   findlays-noe.jpg (52165 bytes) hartman-char.jpg (51965 bytes) noe,miner-noe.jpg (60645 bytes) detlors,miner-blaustein.jpg (68405 bytes)
Jean and Gilbert Findlay. Bob Hartman and the harp guitar he is going to will to me, or else! With Tom Noe.

With John and Jeanette Detlor and the child's- size Knutsen one-armed guitar built by Jeanette's grandfather, Otto Anderson.

- Meeting (and swapping CDs with) a childhood idol - Mason Williams!

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Jamming with Stephen Bennett, et al until we got kicked out of the meeting room.

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Showing Kerry Char and Jon Peterson (Guild of American Luthiers) my latest acquisition.

- Meeting the new HG builders, players and fans who joined us for the first time.

- Hours of completely improvised music on strange instruments during one last night at the Doans’ .  

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The rumors are true. We are a secretly married gay couple.

- The constant joy, love and laughter.

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Backstage at Friday night's concert. They're laughing at what came next. 


Shannon Murphy
(Gathering Attendee)

I first met the Harp Guitar when I went to a concert of John Doan's on St. Patrick's Day of 2001. I was swept away by the beauty of his music and the versatility of the Harp Guitar itself. I've been a constant fan of both every since then.
I felt so privileged to be included in the HGG III this year. The work shops were so informative; I loved the way the players included their songs in with their presentations to the audience-----talking and playing in turn. It made the workshops so enjoyable and gave the new attendees an opportunity to see and hear what the instruments are all about. It was so good to hear the history and see the demonstrations. One of the highlights for me was the movie Saturday afternoon. It was wonderful! John's humor kept the segments rolling right along and yet the different interviews were wonderful in themselves. Seeing how the Harp Guitars are made was very special; I didn't realize before how they can be tailor-made to an individual player as Sullivan and Elliott were explaining. It's no wonder that you all cherish them so much. Muriel's thought-provoking song about Sand Castles was so lovely; I loved how all the players express their music in so many different ways. The Harp Guitar seems to bring very unique individuals to a place where they not only communicate well to each other and with each other but to their audience as well. All the activities in Heaven usually come to a stop when John Doan plays his music, so that the Angels can pause to listen. I think on Saturday night they paused, again, when Stacy played his "Amazing Grace". Then----they just gave up and settled in the balcony when you all played "The Water is Wide". The Good Lord Himself must have had tears of joy when he heard that piece being played at the end of the concert. I can't possibly take the space to comment on every wonderful moment of the Gathering that weekend; it was like stepping into a world where everything was sheer beauty. John and Deirdra's party on Sunday night gave everyone a wonderful opportunity to meet and mingle with the participants. It was a weekend that I'm sure none of us will ever forget. Thanks to some very dedicated Harp Guitar advocates that wonderful instrument is off and running to a glorious future. 
Peace to you all.

Nancy Noe

Don't miss these special slideshows by Nancy!

"The Luthier's Forum" "The Concert"
"The Workshops" "Strings"

The above links open in "Slide Show" mode. Set interval (seconds) and click "Start Show."

Main Index here

Nancy says: I have uploaded two albums (so far) which you can access directly (no signing-in required), and post a link on your own site, if you like, or email to friends.  I have also added links from the album to the websites of those who have them.  I put the albums together from my own photos of the Harp Guitar Gathering events, and with the "slide show" viewing option in mind.  Once you are on the site, you can view either album, and new ones as they are added.  PS - You can download the photos you like for free - just click on the "download" button and open in your photo-viewing software and save.  I uploaded them in the highest resolution available, so most will hold up when printed. 

So sit back and enjoy!  My tribute to the creative genius and the sweet and sassy music that I had the pleasure of experiencing at the Harp Guitar Gathering III.  Thanks to all the participants who made it such a feast!


Andy Wahlberg


Andy multi-tasking...
Harp guitar, harmonica and mouth trumpet.

See and hear Andy perform:
You Call It Joggin'

Beauty. That was what my first impression of Portland was on the day of my arrival. A city that just felt like home to the human spirit (same goes for Salem). A balanced mixture of natural and man made monuments. Seeing so many of my colleagues and friends from the world of Harp Guitar in this magnificent setting was inspiring. I still can hardly believe that this is all real! After the Portland concert it was my privilege to transport Muriel Anderson to the hotel in Salem in the back seat of my rental car. In spite of being a little hoarse, she sang to Kitty and I as we drove south on I-5. What a treat! She actually knew all of the verses to "The Water Is Wide", confessing that she was a "folkie" at heart.
eaton,carlson_show-blaustein.jpg (113305 bytes)  Creativity. So much was new this year. From Tom Shinness and his new "Hot Lips" creation, to Fred's amazing and whimsical work, Will Eaton and his masterful performances and creations, this year was a feast for the eyes and ears. (and fingers!) All of the players, luthiers and historians had so much to contribute to our merry little band. My mind is still reeling, and I find myself almost daily reliving some moment from the events of our gathering. It looks like I'll have a tough act to follow for HGG4 in Naples, FL.

Love. Never before in my life have I experienced a group of people who shared so much love for a subject. It seems that the harp guitar attracts a special kind of person; someone who appreciates possibility and new directions in life and art. I can't think of anyone who embodies this better than our host from this year, John Doan. His hospitality and warmth, evenhandedness and cool head made the entire experience one I will never forget. Thank you John, and I hope to use your and Steve Bennett's example of how to put on an event like this to the best possible effect. I will see you all at HGG4 in Naples!

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Photos by: Michael Allen, Nate Blaustein, Fred Carlson, Kerry Char, John Detlor, John Doan, Mike Doolin, Frank Doucette, Stacy Hobbs, Brad Hoyt, Gregg Miner, Joe Morgan, Nancy Noe, Gary Pittmon.

Photo copyright belongs to the original owners. As with all images on Harpguitars.net, the copyright owner's name appears as the end of the file name.
Please contact the individual owners for hi resolution and uncropped copies and use permission.


Other photos I just love (captions, anyone?)

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"Thousands of dollars worth of guitars, and we can't get a chair with a little padding?" (Dennis Mitchell)
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"Shhhh...don't tell anybody I brought this thing." (D.Mitchell)
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fisher-char.jpg (83738 bytes) mckee,titus-titus.jpg (46465 bytes) meulle-stef,bissell-char.jpg (115227 bytes) morgan-hobbs.jpg (59525 bytes)
"See, I do have something other than flowery Hawaiian shirts to wear!" (D.Mitchell)
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< to Schedule of Events with Photos

  < Back to main Harp Guitar Gathering page

 


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