Online edition of The Official Newsletter of the Jew's Harp Guild - The Pluck-n-Post -

Updated 12/2003 - Volume 7 Issue 3 - Winter 2003


Sponsored by:

Jew's Harp Guild
members around
the World


A Word from the Executive Director

2003 NAJH Festival - A Short Report
M. D. Poss (with Festival Recap from JHG HQ)

Bulletin Board
Post Your Notes

Pictorial Archive
ou Xiang—Chinese Brass ‘Harp Sets

A Brief Review
Of VIM 11

by M. D. Poss

Online Newsletter Archive
Previous Newsletters


Janet Gohring JHG Executive Director Focus on JHG News and IssuesA Word from the Executive Director

Janet Gohring — JHG Executive Director

Hello harpers,

I hope this special NAJHF edition of the Pluck 'n' Post finds all of you well and happy and twangin' !

2003 NAJHF: If you weren't at the 11th annual NAJHF in August, you missed a very good time. We all were very pleased with the new festival location at the Bay City Arts Center. The center provided lots of room for all our activities and we very much appreciated the help and support we received from the folks at the Center as well as the City Council of Bay City.

A very SPECIAL THANKS goes to Denise Harrington and Curtis Chamberlain for all their hard work in coordinating the festival. It was a very casual, relaxed and TOTALLY FUN TIME! Curtis recorded the festival music; copies of individual performances are available upon request.

It was great seeing so many of our past festival musicians again. I often wonder if we shouldn't be calling it a "Reunion" instead of a 'Festival" !! We were happy to meet a new Jew's harp friend, Bruce Barlow (from Lawrence, Kansas). He and past festival attendee John Palmes (from Juneau, Alaska) traveled many miles to share the weekend with us.

All in all, it was the perfect weekend. Perfect weather ... terrific food (both from the great cooks at the Arts Center as well as local seafood fare) ... wonderful music ... and fabulous friends. I hope you enjoy the photos and related articles in this newsletter.

NAJHF 2004: We already have some great ideas for next year when the festival will again be in Bay City on July 30 and 31. Festival coordinators will be Denise Harrington, Curtis Chamberlain and Gene Ralph. Next year we hope to give more focus to Kid's Events. Lorraine Tendick volunteered to coordinate those events with help from her daughter, Amanda, and Amber Stiles. If you'd like to be a volunteer or have ideas for events, let me know.

GUILD NEWS: Many thanks go to all those who attended the post-festival Guild meeting. Its always good to get together and brainstorm. Good input was shared regarding the festival and its new location.

Bill Gohring resigned as an active Board member. Since he IS one of the founders of the Festival and Guild, he agreed to remain as an Honorary Board Member. Bill requested that Gene Ralph's name replace his name on the next Board Member ballot. We all want to thank Bill for his MANY contributions to the Jew's harp movement. Certainly, he has been a driving force here in America to bring all of us a little closer to the Jew's harp.

IJHS: As I mentioned last time, the International Jew's Harp Society was looking for another location for the 2005 Congress (apparently the new building that would house the Congress in Amsterdam could not be completed until 2005). We had been asked if it were possible to host it in conjunction with our festival, but we simply lack the funds, location and man-power to host such an event, especially on such short notice. I received word from Fred Crane and it now appears that efforts to hold the Congress in Hungary (Aron and Zoltan Szilagyi) have fallen through. We will keep you posted!

I'd like to close with a reminder that Guild membership renewals will be sent out with our next newsletter. We will be offering several membership renewal specials with discounted prices on 2003 NAJHF T shirts and the 1998-2000 NAJHF Festival Highlights CD (when purchased in conjunction with your membership renewal).

Till next time ... keep twangin' !! Janet Gohring - Executive Director, The Jew's Harp Guild

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NAJHF 2003
A Short Report

by M. D. Poss

2003 FestLogo

Group foto 2003(Small).jpg (61641 bytes)

Change can be good. And that was certainly the case for the change of venue for this year’s celebration of the magical Jew’s harp. Thanks to the hard work and organizational skills of Denise Harrington & Curtis Chamberlain, their group of local volunteers, and the folks at the Bay City Arts Center, the belatedly announced event came off with very few glitches indeed. So well in fact that we plan to host the event in Bay City, Oregon again in July, 2004.

Mild sea breezes and daytime temps in the 70s are marked changes from the smoke-filled skies and stifling heat we sometimes experienced in the previous location. The grand old southern-style mansion that is the Bay City Arts Center comes pre-equipped with piano and stage within an expansive, resounding room that is perfect for our performances (little or no set-up required!). The Arts Center folks provided many reasonably priced meals from the well equipped (open) kitchen and large dining room. Campers and RVers found inexpensive refuge in the adjacent city park.

Bay City (population around 1200) was a pleasant surprise to those of us who’ve never visited this part of the Oregon coast. A short walk away from Tillamook Bay. A short drive from Rockaway Beach and other scenic locales, it offers a bushel-load of vacation opportunities (make a week out of it).

Even though attendance was low this year (the late announcement), many locals and tourists found their way to the festival, drawn by well-placed flyers.

Good people make great events. A quick glance at the Festival Recap will reveal the names of all the fine folks that participated this year. Many are returning friends from past festivals, and there are several newcomers.

While Open Mike performances and workshops were rather sparsely attended, those that were there were treated to a variety of musical expressions. Everyone seemed to enjoy the chance to try their hand at the Musical Saw (Thanks, Curtis and Alan), were surprised by the throat singing Andy and the pop-n-clap routine by Bruce. Whether laid-back or high-energy, all the performances were a treat to hear.

The highlight of the festival was Saturday as the crowd swelled with the influx of local folks to experience the Band Scramble and featured performances. Baby Gramps and Curtis Chamberlain picked up the energy level with their very unique set while Jim Nelson soothed us all with his Celtic harp. There was a little bit of everything packed in to these few hours and every one of the local folks I talked to were astounded, and thrilled to welcome our show to their town.

Every new machine needs a little tune up to run smoothly and we do have a little work to do for next year. I hope that having this time to get the word out about NAJHF 2004 we can inspire many more folks to join us in our annual celebration.
Thanks to everyone! See you next year. Mark

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harpist2.gif (13304 bytes)
JH & guitar
Janet Autoharp.gif (28362 bytes)

 denise1.jpg (10827 bytes) < Denise Harrington


NAJHF 2003  Recap


Denise Harrington and Curtis Chamberlain

Performers participating in the Open Mike,
the Grand Jam and the Band Scramble:

Allan DeLay - Musical Saw, Portland, Oregon

Bill Gohring - Jew's Harp, Sumpter, Oregon

Bruce Barlow - Jew's harp, Lawrence, Kansas

Curtis Chamberlain - Ukulele, Musical Saw, Washtub Bass, Jew's harp, Kazoo, Clackamore, Portland, Oregon

Dan Adams - Piano, Tillamook, Oregon

Dan Gossi - Jew's Harp, Clackamore, Didj, Boise, Idaho

Denise Harrington - Jew's Harp, Garibaldi, Oregon

Gene Ralph - Guitar, Jew's harp, Banks, Oregon

Gordon Frazier - Jew's Harp, Clackamore, bones, kazoo, other stuff, Seattle, Washington

Homer Welty - Chorded Zither, Kaiser, Oregon

Ingrid Berkhout - Jew's harp, Seattle, Washington

Jack Roberts - Vocal, Guitar, Banjo, Carson, Washington

Janet Gohring - Piano, Autoharp, Jew's harp, Shakers, Voice, Sumpter, Oregon

Jim Nelson - Guitar, Voice, Clogging, Celtic Harp, Garibaldi, Oregon

John C. Bogert - Harmonica, Fiddle, Orofino, Idaho

John Palmes - Mouthbow, Juneau, Alaska

Lisa Kendall - Voice, Tillamook, Oregon

Mark Poss - Jew's Harp, Clackamore, Hand drums, Odd stuff, Nampa, Idaho

Michael Bruesch - Guitar, mandolin, Clackamore, Jew's harp, Guiro, stir xylophone, shakers, Caldwell, Idaho

Nikki Jones - Ukulele Portland, Oregon

Roger Tendick - Jew's Harp Veneta, Oregon

Wayland Harman - Jew's Harp, Clackamore, MouthBow, Odd stuff, Boise, Idaho


Curtis Chamberlain & The Blind Rootin' Hogs


Baby Gramps

Denise Harrington & Homer Welty

Wayland Harman

Gordon Frazier

Bruce Barlow

Denise Harrington, Ingrid Berkhout, Janet Gohring and other ladies

Jack Roberts

Chris Towne

Bill Gohring

Jim Nelson and Denise Harrington

The OddTones



Jew's Harp—Gordon Frazier


Mouthbow—Wayland Harman & John Palmes


Musical Saw—Curtis Chamberlain & Allan DeLay



BAND #1- "The Mother Shuckers"

Gene Ralph, Denise Harrington, Bill Gohring, Nikki Jones, John Palmes, Homer Welty, Roger Tendick, John Bogert

BAND #2 - "Tennessee-ans"

Michael Bruesch, Bruce Barlow, Gordon Frazier, Dan Gossi, Lisa Kendall, Dan Adams, Curtis Chamberlain

BAND #3 - "Weapons of Mass Destruction"

Jack Roberts, Ingrid Berkhout, Chris Towne, Wayland Harman, Allan DeLay, Mike Stiles, Janet Gohring

bulletin board - Post Your NotesPOST YOUR NOTES

  1. This is a really great site. I stumbled onto it when someone mentioned it on the Acutab banjo list. I've got a question concerning the Jew's Harp tuning. How important is it? I know that harmonica players tend to carry an assortment of harps in order to play in various keys. Is this necessary with a Jew's Harp? Could someone play a Jew's Harp tuned to say C# along with someone playing a guitar tune in G?
  2. Hello: I'm an 18th Century Amer. Rev War re-enactor and my battalion has an interest in my forming them into a Jew’s harp orchestra for evening entertainment and general merriment. Can you tell me what you would recommend for a whole slew of beginners? Any tips or ideas in how to teach a group, and what sort of simple beginning music to consider leading them in (I'm actually a trained operatic soprano with this weird reenacting hobby and I imagine I can at least get the rudiments down of this ancient art form). Many thanks for any guidance. Cathy Thorpe email:

  3. Hi, I play the Jew's harp in my Celtic and Swiss accordion bands. I am interested in learning some information about playing the Jew's harp in my Renaissance band. Is there any documentation of this as a true instrument of the Renaissance, and any information on how it could be played? What kind of tunes etc? Dawn

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Pictorial Archive
The Jew’s Harp Guild Pictorial Archive
needs photos of your favorite ‘harps. Send (non-returnable) pics and info to:
The Jew’s Harp Guild Pictorial Archive: c/o Mark D. Poss

Kou Xiang—Chinese Brass ‘Harp Sets

These are similar to the type that Gordon Frazier played at NAJHF 2003.
Not tuned to a specific key, but tuned to each other, to produce a wonderful set of tones.   Played all together or separately; on the lips or just close to the mouth.

hoho 3set.jpg (6999 bytes)hoho 4set.gif (27375 bytes)


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A Brief Review of
VIM 11

By M. D. Poss

A change is in the future of the VIM journal. Editor and publisher, Frederick Crane, starts this issue with a Farewell, Sort of. In the opening paragraph he states, "After 21 years and 11 issues, VIM is wishing its readers farewell. Just sort of a farewell. For its place will be taken by the new Journal of the International Jew’s Harp Society. At his age, the editor and publisher will not change much between now and the end of 2003, which should bring the first issue of the new journal, and it will look a lot like the old one— a bit of a new look may be the only difference worthy of note. The journal will go to members of the IJHS; it will cost more, as the annual dues will also pay for a newsletter and other expenses of the Society. But it will be a still very modest $20 a year, and I hope you’ll stay with us. So — hail and farewell.". Fred told me in an email that he will remain editor and printer.

These116 pages overflow with photographs and reproductions. Most useful to any collector (or Ebay bidder) are pages 67 through 116 which highlight reproductions of Trumps In American Musical Instrument Trade Catalogs. These clear, crisp images, with text that is almost entirely readable, have already become my reference standard to identify English, Irish, Scotch and American harps from 1874 through 1982. The catalog pages also show measurements and descriptions. Speaking of references, this issue supplements the Trump bibliographies previously published in VIMs 7 & 9.

Being an expert on medieval musical instruments, Fred has a penchant to include historical data and translations covering word origins (Trompe, Cacapensieri), personalities (Koch), and folklore (Trolls and Trumps). I have faith that the new-look Journal of the IJHS will continue this inclination as it rounds out my education and understanding of the history of the instrument.

VIM is not stuck in the past. We learn about modern makers (Clayton G. Bailey, USA, (Dr, Abe Kazuhiro, Japan] My Mukkuri), the recent fieldwork of José Pignocchi of Formosa, Argrentina, (beautiful full-page photographs), and honors to Trân Quang Hai and Mike Seeger. You just don’t see this stuff anywhere else!

This issue is superb! It is fitting such quality should denote the last of VIM’s long run. I wish I could be half the editor/good-all-around-guy/printer/publisher/musicologist, that Fred has become. VIM is his legacy that I hope will evolve.

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Announcing the publication of


by Frederick Crane

The subject matter of the book is 179 pictures plus variants-paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures-from the years 1353 to 2000 that include trumps or trumpists. The book is illustrated with 237 pictures, including details. The accompanying text discusses each picture or group of pictures, and draws generalizations about the trump-where it was known, how it was played and by whom, and what were the attitudes toward it.

The complete list of pictures forms the appendix, with basic data on the pictures, artists, owners, and literature. There is an extensive bibliography.

Price per copy including postage: U.S.A. $22 - Other countries $25

To order, state the number of copies required and send your payment.

Payment: check on a U.S. bank, international postal money order, cash (with some risk).
These methods of payment only, please.

Frederick Crane

601 N. White St.

Mt. Pleasant, IA 52641 U.S.A.

The PLUCK-N-POST needs more contributors!

If you have ideas for articles, sketches, or pictures, etc. Please query the editor at:

Mark Poss
924 10th. Ave. N.
Nampa, ID. 83687

Or use the JHG Feedback form.

North American Jew's Harp Festival
1998 - 2000 Highlights CD

Compact Disc - DBS-2707 - Total Time : 61:47

US$12.00 each + US$ 3.00 S & H in USA (US$ 5.00 international).
Allow 4-8 weeks for delivery. Sorry no CODs.

Send check or money order to:
The Jew’s Harp Guild
c/o Ralph Christensen
2239 Fairfield Street
Eureka, CA 95501

North American Jew's Harp Festival 1998-2000 Highlights


Highlights 1998 - 2000

The North American Jew’s Harp Festival is . . .
musicians from Australia, Austria, Hungary,
the Netherlands, and the United States
playing traditional, original, improvisational,
and uncategorizable music on Jew’s harp,
dumbek, bhodran, Clackamore, cigar box
fiddle, mandolin, harmonica, random
pieces of wood, and more.

There’s nothing else like the
North American Jew’s Harp Festival.


See the JHG STORE for makers, sellers. publications & jhg products

North American Jew's Harp Festival
1997 Highlights CD

The CD features 20 of the best Public Domain, spontaneous music,
or original composition performances of the 1997 festival.
The CD was well accepted at the Molln Congress.

US $12.00 each
Domestic US - 1 item US$ 3.00
Each additional item US$ 1.00

International -  1 item US$ 5.00
Each additional item US$ 1.00

Send check or money order to:
The Jew's Harp Guild/Festival
69954 Hidden Valley Lane
Cove, OR 97824

Original Art
Featuring Jew's Harps

Blank note cards w/envelopes
Christmas Cards w/envelopes
Limited numbered, signed prints

R. Vinson, Artist

39995 Sumpter Valley Hwy.
Baker City, OR 97814
(541) 894-2345 or

Original Art by Ron Vinson

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