The 4th Annual Harp Guitar Gathering

September 30-October 1, 2006, Naples, Florida
Hosted by Andy Wahlberg

© Stacey Blaustein

Andy got us a fantastic cover story in the Naples Daily News.

See the entire article in PDF form.


Schedule of Events with Photos

Event highlights as remembered by the attendees in their own words
(Presented in order received)
Photo credits at page bottom

Favorite Memories:

Once again, the universal favorite is the subject of friendship, camaraderie, fun, love. 
It's probably the biggest reason why we keep coming back.

Frank Doucette

The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” – rock on Bill Dutcher!

Watching Andy Wahlberg in his native habitat.

Mike Doolin’s cool new electric archtop harp guitar and the beautiful jazz sounds he coaxed out of its 17 strings.

Not a harp guitar but…Brad Hoyt’s sweet little Brazilian viola caipira and the beautiful arrangement of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

Seeing Nancy Conescu come over to the dark side.

- Stephen Bennett shining light into the Long Forgotten Chambers of the Heart.

- Young gun Matt Thomas’ lovely ode to Stephen Bennett, “Man on the Moon” – and Matt’s killer arrangement of Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish”.

- The loan of Bob Hartman’s latest acquisition for The Water is Wide.

Brad Hoyt

Brad with Bob Hartman's latest find.

- Hearing and later jamming with Mike Doolin!
- Andy Walberg's performance of a blues tune at the end of the Sunday concert.
- John Doan and the Harpolyre.
- Hearing Gregg's harp guitar arrangement of one of my songs.

- Turning up Earth, Wind and Fire full blast in the car with Dan Lavoie and Andy McKee after Andy Walberg's concert on Friday night.

Mike Doolin


1) Backstage with Andy Wahlberg and Stephen Bennett (and Hobbs and McKee I think) rehearsing their rowing act behind Gregg & Larry's set (did anybody get a picture of that, or were we all laughing too hard?).

2) Tim Donohue playing on "nothing" with his right hand.  Hooray for fresh blood!  Even if he has been doing it for 20 years, this is the first most of us have heard from him, and what a sound!
3) Nancy Conescu playing onstage after 40 minutes total lifetime harp guitar practice.  Hooray for girls with (harp) guitars!  
4) Matt Thomas.  Hooray for the next generation of HG players!  

Eric Hartshorn

Ten most compelling memories: (not necessarily in order of importance)

1) Someone offered to sell me a very sweet instrument! (and although he subsequently received other offers, is honoring mine- what a true gentleman).

2) Came away feeling inspired & motivated (although quite humbled).

3) High Caliber Performances: Not only great talent & skill, but a vast variety of styles. 
All had an amazing stage presence & sense of humor.  Most notably - everyone was incredibly adept at recovering from the inevitable stage foibles & mishaps. Fortunately, no harp guitars were injured in the making of this gathering !  The most visual memory was of Tim Donahue standing on stage with his eyes closed hands gracefully waving in front of him (you couldn’t see the strings in the dark). While he played, it was easy to envision how he sees his music in the form of colors.  Many performances evoked tears –more than once.

4) Techniques, tips, etc…  I picked up many things by watching in person that you don’t get from just listening.

5) See & try out an amazing variety of Instruments:  As well as Gregg’s presentation & history.

6) Luthiers: Although the entire group amazed me, It was great to meet Mike Doolin and Ben, and discuss possible future projects in person. It was a real treat to see and hear William Eaton and his newest instrument. Mike’s newest instrument is a true work of art.

7) Most fun ever had with clothes on ! (Couldn’t sleep the whole weekend I was so overwhelmed).

8) Merchandise tables: Bought many items I already knew I wanted, but saved a lot in postage.

9) Best Birthday present I ever bought myself....Overall good experience –meeting very nice, genuine people. It was especially nice to finally meet people whose talent I have admired from afar.

10) Last, and definitely not least: Gracious Hosts: Not only is Andy Wahlberg a scary bundle of talent, He is a very gracious host.  I have no idea where he pulled his energy from being “on” all weekend, then even hosting the after party at his wonderful home.  Thanks especially to Kitty for a tremendous job organizing so much of what occurred.

Gregg Miner

Where to begin - the guys above stole mine! 
Too many.  So, in no particular order...
- Andy McKee's new "do"!

- Bob Hartman surprising me again...I have to conk him on the head and run one of these Gatherings...

- John bringing his brand new treasure...and actually playing it and making history.

- Stephen surprising me with a round of applause after my impromptu George Gruhn impersonation during my lecture.
- At long last meeting Tim Donahue (and immediately bonding)...then Saturday, I asked Andy to dim the lights as his first stereo hammer-on chord filled the room. Glorious!

- Andy Wahlberg driving me to new heights during my impromptu test-drive of Rich Mermer's new Weissenborn.

- Hearing great new harp guitarists for the first time - Mike Doolin, Matt Thomas, Nate Hagen...
- The "R-rated" hot tub party Sunday night (or was it a "soft X"?)

Michael Schreiner
(at right)

My personal Favorite Moment was when I got to show and ask advice about my Gibson 6-bass HG guitar restoration from Ben who is a luthier and expert on Gibson HGs and John Doan who is the only other person I know who owns this model. They seemed as excited about seeing this project as I was to show it. There were many other great moments but that was my favorite.

Nate Blaustein

- The Mckee "Skullet"
- Andy's bar performance
- Bill's "Baba O'Rielly" - John's Sor piece
-Listening to Tim Donahue's 'Colors' - Being able to share my music with my Harp guitar brothers and sisters
- Having my wife share the experience this year.    

Bruce Labadie

1. At the Saturday night concert Bill Dutcher did his version of the Who's Teenage Wasteland and brought down the house. It was quite entertaining.
2. Sunday afternoon at the close of the workshops Andy Wahlberg asked some of us new players to come up and play a song. As I was playing my song I said to the audience, " This is where the lead part goes" and with that, Andy took out his harmonica and began to play his heart out. Andy, you made my day. That was so cool.
3. At the hotel, after the Saturday night concert, we got together in a circle with harp guitars in hand.   We played and sang Beatle songs into the wee hours of the morning, led by Stephen Bennett. Stephen, with sleepy eyes says, " This is the the last song" and John Doan calling out, "Just one more, one more".
4.Mike Dooling playing James by Pat Metheny just blew me away, on his newly built harp guitar. WOW!!! You're my hero, bro.

The whole weekend was such a blast. Can't wait till next year!

  5.Oh yea, I love this photo of Stephen Bennett playing in the key of C for CLEANING. A true picture of servant hood if ever there was.

An example to us all...To clean up our acts...

Stephen not a day goes by without intently watching you play your harp guitar on dvd or listening to you play while driving my tractor-trailer. I'm addicted to the sound of the harp guitar and the way you play it. Thank you my friend.

Special thanks to Stacy Hobbs for trusting me with one of his most prized possessions. (What a guy!) And to John Doan for tuning it at the last minute.( I Love your music my friend, You touch the hearts of so many of us, words can not express!)

Thank you Gregg for your great love for harp guitar & for sharing with us all your ever increasing knowledge of these wonderful instruments.  We love ya man!   GOD BLESS.



Photos by: Nate & Stacy Blaustein, Frank Doucette, Joe & Linda Morgan, Mike Doolin & Nancy Conescu, Nancy Noe

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