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America's Last Harmonica Factory Closes in Rockford

By JoshMogerman in News on Aug 7, 2011 8:15PM

Harmonica [Sugar Pond]
The last harmonica company in the closing its doors in Rockford after just a year of business. Harrison Harmonicas opened America’s only harmonica production facility to produce its B-Radical line, which was marketed as “the Steinway of harmonicas.” The product was targeted to professional players -- a shrinking community outside of Chicago’s blues scene. News of the closure has some customers, who had been waiting months for orders to be fulfilled, nervous that some shady business practices might be at play even as another company steps in to produce the instruments elsewhere. We hope this gets sorted out. Chicago needs quality harmonicas as this Trib video from last year shows.

Is the compact traveling companion of America's cowboys losing popularity in the pop scene? In the summer festival scene -- including Lollapallooza this weekend -- we cannot help but notice the lack of harmonica-centric bands like Blues Traveler or Huey Lewis and the News or... what are some other heavy harmonica users? Blues Traveler isn't part of any big music fest these days, though they are currently touring. Overall there seems to be less demand for John Popper’s indisputable harmonica virtuosity in pop music these days. And that probably goes a long way towards explaining the sad demise of America’s last harmonica factory.