I remember Dr. Henry T. Bahnson, Harmonica Innovator

My memory of Hank Bahnson.

I attended that Howard Levy Workshop, too. The classmates were some of the 
best and brightest talent in the harmonica world, including Dr. Bahnson, but, 
as is the unwritten custom at Augusta, the personal career of the classmates 
was rarely a point of discussion. As a result, I only knew him as "Hank", the 
nice old white haired guy that played traditional American tunes on the 

At lunch one day, I was sitting with a guitar student who was an 
anesthesiologist from Atlanta, GA. Dr. Bahnson walked by with his lunch tray 
and said "Hi, Larry". I said "Hi there, Hank" and clapped him on the back.

The anesthesiologist almost choked on his food. He said "Do you have any idea 
who you just clapped on the back??" I said "Sure, that's ol' Hank. He's a 
cool ol' dude that is learning to play overblows and blues harmonica". He 
said "No, that is Dr. Henry T. Bahnson, one of the most respected surgeons in 
the world, involved in the first heart transplant projects at a famous 
Pittsburgh Hospital and is Head of the Department there. You just don't pat 
somebody like that on the back and call him 'Hank!"

It sure surprised me, but never changed the friendly relationship Dr. Bahnson 
and I shared over the years.

Dr. Bahnson was also responsible for sneaking Howard Levy into the research 
lab at this hospital and filming an ultrasound movie of Howard's mouth and 
throat while he played harmonica and overblows. From what Hank told me, he 
got caught using this VERY EXPENSIVE hospital equipment in harmonica research 
and was scolded by the Hospital Administrator.

Hank was quite a guy and the harmonica community owes him a debt of gratitude 
for his research into the physiology of harmonica playing and the human body.

The Iceman

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