‘Blowhards’ wanted: Grand Rapids Harmonica Club hopes to expand membership

The Grand Rapids Harmonica Club has seen its membership decline in recent years. You are currently looking for new members.

GRAND RAPIDS, me. – West Michigan is full of various clubs that people can join. There are dance clubs, fitness clubs, and book clubs.

And that hardly scratches the surface.

There is one club that few people probably know about, and yet it has been around for decades. But you have to be a “blowhard” to become a member.

For the past 30 years, a group of people from across West Michigan have gathered in Grand Rapids to share their love of harmonica playing.

“We currently meet every second Saturday of the month,” said Phyllis Spinal-Robinson, president of the Grand Rapids Harmonica Club. “We had up to 35 members at the same time, but that has shrunk in recent years. We only have 15 active members now.”

Phyllis said the main reason membership was falling was because most of the members grew old and passed away.

“There is no age limit to join our club,” said Phyllis. “We already had members when we were 10 years old.”

The club gathers in the basement of Pennellwood Church of God, located at 3459 Reiser Ave. SW is located in Grand Rapids. They have a catalog with over 50 songs, from gospel and blues to jazz and traditional folk music.

“We have a lot of different skills at the club,” added Phyllis. “And we take the time to teach people too.”

Dick Nelson has been a member of the club for approximately 15 years.

“I loved it,” said Nelson, who plays a huge 23-inch harmonica. “I don’t plan to become a professional player, but we’re having a good time.”

The Grand Rapids Harmonica Club is invited to perform at dozen of annual events in West Michigan, but the COVID-19 outbreak only allowed them to perform four times last year. They are currently training for four upcoming events in 2021 and hope to add more as Michigan continues to relax necessary pandemic-related restrictions.

“I would encourage anyone who likes to get together and play [on a harmonica] to give us a scream, “said Nelson.

To learn more about the Grand Rapids Harmonica Club, visit the Facebook page. If you are interested in signing up, email Phyllis Spinal-Robinson at [email protected]

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