The AHS conference is a giant celebration of harps, harpists and harp music, and it’s an infectiously fun atmosphere to be in the middle of. This is its 41st year and it’s being held in New Orleans with lots of jazzy Southern flair.
Dusty Strings has been taking harps to the show since 1988, when one of our long-time dealers, Sylvia Woods, first convinced us to go. In the initial years, we felt a little like wallflowers, it being mainly a pedal harp show and a bit intimidating for lever harp makers at first. (Imagine Ray and Sue’s surprise the first few times they heard our bubinga FH36S referred to as a “little harp.”) However, we firmly believed that Dusty Strings had something to offer the pedal harp world. After a few years, some stubborn persistence and a couple of curious and adventurous pedal harpists, our “little harps” started to get noticed.
At the San Diego conference in 1992, Ray remembers two harpists in particular – Ray Pool and Dewey Owens – who braved the scrutiny of their peers by stopping at the Dusty Strings booth to give our harps a workout. And when they did, boy did heads turn! People were blown away by Ray Pool’s lever-flipping rendition of Ain’t Misbehavin’, and he and Dewey Owens each ended up ordering an FH36B at that conference. Ray (our Ray) thinks of that as a pivotal moment in our history of exhibiting at the AHS conference and our acceptance in the greater harp world.
So back to the 2014 conference: It runs from Sunday, June 22nd through Thursday, June 26th, and is packed full of concerts and master classes, as well as workshops and talks on a variety of subjects. The exhibit hall is only open through Tuesday, so be sure to stop by the Dusty booth and say hi to Ray and Sue! There is plenty of time set aside for conference attendees to hang out with the vendors, and if you’re not attending the conference but you’re interested in browsing the exhibit hall, you can purchase exhibit-only day passes.
If you are a pedal harpist, we encourage you to stop by the Dusty Strings booth and try out the Boulevard Classic, our new pedal-tension gut-strung lever harp. It feels and sounds more like a classical harp than our other models, plus it fits in your car and can be carried over your shoulder! You can also try out the Dusty Duo-Tune, which combines a tuning key and electronic tuner into a single nifty tuning device, or the Dusty Pedal Harp Pickup, which lets you easily amplify the natural sound of your harp.
If you’re dreaming of a portable instrument that’s easy on the hands and has a big, responsive, lush sound, come by and play our FH36S in bubinga. Harpists are constantly surprised and amazed by the deep, rich bass and the sheer amount of sound it produces.
Most importantly, just stop by and introduce yourself. The most rewarding part of every harp conference is meeting new people, greeting familiar faces and hearing everyone’s stories. Ray and Sue are super nice, I promise! (And they’re my parents, so if anyone knows the real truth, it’s me.)
Here’s the complete list of harps we’ll be bringing: