Tag-team harmonica lessons for beginners Feb. 23-25

By Kirk Boxleitner
Posted 2/21/24

By Kirk Boxleitner


If you’re looking to liven up your weekend, the duo of George Yount and “Chicago Bob” Longmire are offering an opportunity to pick up a musical …

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Tag-team harmonica lessons for beginners Feb. 23-25



If you’re looking to liven up your weekend, the duo of George Yount and “Chicago Bob” Longmire are offering an opportunity to pick up a musical skill quickly.

From Friday, Feb. 23, through Sunday, Feb. 25, Longmire and Yount will teach a three-day workshop on harmonica-playing at the Quimper Grange, located at 1219 Corona St. in Port Townsend, with classes running from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day.

Longmire touted the harmonica as “a very friendly instrument, providing almost instant gratification,” for which he and Yount have both developed a passion over the years.

Not only did Longmire and Yount co-found the Port Townsend Harmonica Union, which maintains a website and provides classes devoted to broadening harmonica appreciation, but Yount has amassed a knowledge of thousands of harmonica songs over his lifetime of harmonica-playing, while Longmire earned his nickname of “Chicago Bob” through 45 years of learning blues and swing music in Chicago, which he’s followed by leading the Midnight Train Blues Band in Port Townsend since 2014.

“I love the blues, and George is big into folk music, so we both want to hear more people playing those kinds of music,” Longmire said. “Part of why we play venues like the Highway Twenty Roadhouse or Discovery Bay Brewing is to spread the music we love around to others.”

In keeping with Longmire and Yount’s ethos of spreading their favorite music more broadly, their workshop is designed to take prospective harmonica students from the beginners’ level to the “strong intermediate” level within only three days of instruction.

“By using familiar songs, we should be able to get the group playing real music from the very start,” Longmire said. “No one should worry about how well they play to begin with. Some of the best music I’ve played with others owed to the spontaneous, intuitive connections we developed with each other, right on the spot. Forging those connections can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of playing music.”

The veteran harmonica players will cover styles and techniques for both rhythm- and lead-playing on the instrument, through blues, swing, ballads and folk tunes.

“Some people labor under the misconception that all blues music is sad,” Longmire said. “Yes, a lot of blues tunes were born from hard times, from slavery to other forms of human suffering, but there’s so much of the blues that’s about throwing off those sad feelings, so we can feel joy instead, in spite of our circumstances.”

Longmire touted the harmonica as “a strong vehicle” for a wide variety of music, owing at least in part to its multicultural origins, since it was developed in Europe, then brought to America, where it was often employed to play African-derived songs, and ultimately gained favor with popular contemporary musicians, including Bob Dylan.

“Few other instruments allow you to express your feelings so directly through melody,” Longmire said. “And besides its capability for expression, the harmonica just sounds cool.”

The fee for the class is $25, payable onsite through cash or check, and each prospective student will need to bring their own regular harmonica, with 10 holes, measuring roughly four inches long, in the key of C for the class.

For further information on the workshop, on Longmire and Yount, and on a number of harmonica songs, visit the Port Townsend Harmonica Union’s website at pthu.org online.