Keep on Harpin' with Don Spain
307 20th St. Terrace
Leavenworth, KS 66048

(913) 651-3519

Email Don Spain


Precious Memories

National Traditional Country Music Association
November - December 2004
ISSN 1071-1864

This old friend has put together one of the finest harmonica CD's I've ever heard in a very long time. Don is a special guy. He's one of the "sweetest" harmonica players around, makes his home in Kansas, and has become "the" harmonica player to listen to. This CD is a very special tribute to the songs he likes to play, and to the very sensitive and artistic manner in which he approaches every song. The cover photo of him on this CD reveals a very handsome young soldier that served in Korea and Vietnam. The back photo shows him playing with some of his fellow GI's. There's some vocals on this CD, and there's some fine pickin' but the center piece is Don's harmonica playing. Don Spain Jr., plays rhythm and lead guitar, and does it well backing his dad just right. Bobby Wright on bass, and Lee Bennett on occasional Dobro adds a just right amount of "class" to the overall project (on Panhandle Rag). Both Bobby Wright and Don do some vocalizing, and Aaron Crawford does a little percussion, but it is still the harmonica that stands out in each and every song. Don has played his harmonica all over the world, most recently on a trip to China that included Sheila, Bobbie Lhea and myself. It was an amazing experience for all of us, and though it sometimes seemed a little hap hazard, it was a wonderful opportunity for all of us to shine. I stood watching Don play his harmonica at our Missouri Valley festival this year, along with a handful of pickers, almost a jam session, on the busy sidewalk, and every time I walked by, he had a large group of people listening to him play his harmonica. Maria told me later that Don sold well over $500 in CD sales just at Missouri Valley. That should tell you a little about what this particular project is all about. It's about good music, more particularly good harmonica playing. The best! I listened to every one of the songs on this CD, and I would pick the last one as my favorite. Don plays "Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere" as a tribute to the military, and his buddies in the service with him, and "all" active military service members. It's great. Good singin' from Don and good guitar pickin' too, but the harmonica is still the tops, including "Taps" at the end.

China Trip

Leavenworth Times
December 22, 2002
Vol. 145, No. 248 Lia Russell (excerpt)

If it's country music you want, go to China. That's what a Leavenworth Couple did recently.
Local musician Don Spain and his wife, Maria, returned to Leavenworth from a two-week jaunt to China, where he played his harmonica at opening and closing ceremonies of the International Jeans Fashion Show. (Photos: One, Two, Three)

Among the Gospel and country numbers performed by the band were "Sing Low, Sweet Chariot," "Good Hearted Woman," and "Wabash Canonball." (At the conclusion of the set, the) bandmembers received a very rousing ovation.

Old Standards & Country Blues

National Traditional Country Music Association
July - August 2002
ISSN 1071-1864

Don Spain is my favorite harmonica player. He can do more with a little ten-reed harmonica than just about anybody I've ever heard. This particular tape includes some of Don's friends, especially Bob Bonnel on vocals. Nice old-timey flavor, as good or better than any music of a similar style. Don is a regular at Avoca; it would be nice if he brought some of these players up with him. He uses a full backing band on this tape, including drums, and I don't mind that, it just isn't what we do at Avoca, and still keep our sanity. Tasteful is the key word here though. Nice mix throughout this tape. Lots of my favorite songs on here. I liked "500 Miles Away From Home" it sounded so plaintive, and full of sincerity all the way through. Keep it up, Don. See you in Avoca.

Harpin' on Country Classics

National Traditional Country Music Association
July - August 1998
ISSN 1071-1864

I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry; I Saw the Light; Blue Yodel #1; Columbus Stockade Blues; John Henry; Folsom Prison Blues; Your Cheatin' Heart; I Heard that Lonesome Whistle; Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain; Rollin' in My Sweet Baby's Arms. Wow! I never realized how good those old Hank Williams songs sounded on the harmonica. Don Spain is an excellent harpist and this cassette of absolutely great songs is proof of the pudding. This is the second time he has sent me this tape (I lost the first one somewhere in Texas) and I'm glad he sent me another because this nicely balanced, very good mix, and extremely talented tape is one for anybody's old-time country collection. Don played lead harmonica throughout with son Don, Jr. on rhythm guitar, bass, lead guitar, and banjo. Bob DeMoss played the Hybrid Dobro (sounds great) and did the sound engineering. He did a great job. You'll catch Don Spain Sr., somewhere at the Avoca Festival, so do look him up and get one or more of his great tapes. Good job all the way around.

Harping Your Country Favorites

National Traditional Country Music Association
November - December 1998
ISSN 1071-1864

Don Spain has an excellent new tape out called "Harping Your Country Favorites." This guy is without a doubt the best harmonica player in our entire region, and his tapes really do him justice. He had Don Jr. helping out on guitar and banjo, with a few other people like Bob DeMoss on Hybrid Dobro and Bob Bonnel on drums. Good selection of songs too! Silver Wings - Rocky Top - Way Farin' Stranger - Me & Bobby McGee - Lost Highway - Wabash Cannonball - On the Road Again - You Win Again - Lorena - Sitting on Top of the World. Don does a lot of what is called "choke" playing, and he does it most excellently. Song beginning and endings are just great. I really liked his first song off the rack. "Silver Wings" sounds like he used two different kinds of harmonicas to get some really unique sounds. This happens throughout the tape, it's a dandy. Don't you ever want to just sit back, relax, take it easy and listen to some nice traditional music without having to try to understand every word they are singing? I do, and this tape is going to stay close to my book reading chair. What a nice way to spend a cold Sunday afternoon. Put another log on the fire Ma, we're going to listen to Don Spain today.