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Erie Art Museum Blues & Jazz Festival

In conjunction with the Erie Art Museum Blues & Jazz Festival, the Museum is hosting Hal Walker, family performance act and harmonica extraordinaire, in a four-day residency. Walker composes and improvises on the piano, guitar, voice, concertina, harmonica, jaw harp, and the khaen (a mouth organ made out of bamboo pipe from Southeast Asia). The musician has a talent for taking an instrument associated with a particular culture, such as the khaen or the African banakula, and, after learning how they are traditionally used, and making it his own in a uniquely American way. Walker also has a lifetime fascination with instruments that can fit in a pocket.

Along with the opening act of the Blues & Jazz Festival, Saturday, August 7 at 12 p.m, Walker will host several public workshops during his residency, playing an astonishing array of instruments. Walker will host a kids’ kazoo workshop during the Festival, Saturday, August 7 at 2:30 p.m. near the Information tent at Frontier Park. The Museum will host Walker for Mid-Day Art Break, Wednesday, August 4, 12-1 p.m. on the Museum steps

He will also present a series of workshops at Early Connections, the International Institute, two sites at the Housing Authority of the City of Erie, and a public workshop at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Erie, Friday, August 6 at 7:00 p.m. This workshop is entitled “Music That Can Fit In Your Pocket” Hal will demonstrate the harmonica, concertina, African banakula, and the jaw harp. He’ll teach participants how to ‘echo clap’ and play the hand whistle. Everyone will be invited to join Hal on stage for a song at the Erie Art Museum Blues & Jazz Festival the following day.

During his residency Hal Walker will also teach refugee children how to play the harmonica, and they will perform with him at the Festival on Saturday. The children, who have been in the States for two years, will learn about the history of American folk music through songs, learn about the basic evolution of the blues and identify its forms, and discuss how this folk music tradition is similar and different to their native traditions.

For more information about his residency contact Kelly Armor at the Erie Art Museum, [email protected], or 459-5477. For more information about Hal Walker go to

Hal’s residency is funded by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council. The PHC inspires individuals to enjoy and share a life of learning enriched by human experience across time and around the world. Since 1973, the PHC has empowered local groups to offer high-quality public programs that have a positive impact on the everyday life of their communities. The PHC represents Pennsylvania in the Federal-State Partnership of the National Endowment for the Humanities. For more information, visit or call 800-462-0442.

About the Erie Art Museum
The Erie Art Museum anchors downtown Erie’s cultural and economic revitalization, occupying a group of restored mid-19th century commercial buildings, including an outstanding 1839 Greek Revival Bank. It maintains an ambitious program of 15 to 18 changing exhibitions annually, embracing a wide range of subjects, both historical and contemporary and including folk art, contemporary craft, multi-disciplinary installations, community-based work, as well at traditional media.

The Erie Art Museum also holds a collection of over 6,000 objects, which includes significant works in American ceramics, Tibetan painting, Indian bronzes, contemporary baskets, and a variety of other categories.

The Museum offers a wide range of education programs and artists’ services including interdisciplinary and interactive school tours and a wide variety of classes for the community. Performing arts are showcased in the 24-year-old Contemporary Music Series, which represents national and international performers of serious music with an emphasis on composer/performers, and a popular annual two-day Blues & Jazz festival.

The Erie Art Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is free for members, free on Wednesdays, $4 for adults, $3 for senior citizens and students and $2 for children under 12.

For additional information on the Erie Art Museum, visit online at or call (814) 459-5477.

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