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Who Harpo Kidwell
When December 29, 2003
Where Atlanta, GA
What Harpo Kidwell, 93, dean of the 'Barn Dance' harmonica players
 

(Excerpt from the article mentioned above)

By Patricia Newman
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Harpo Kidwell could make sounds with his harmonica that didn't seem possible.

He played his harmonica live on WSB Radio's popular show "Barn Dance" from 1940 to 1950. Every Saturday night, listeners tuned in to hear him and other country musicians perform at the Erlanger Theater.

"I called him the dean of the 'Barn Dance' harmonica players," said Wayne Daniels of Chamblee, who wrote about Mr. Kidwell in his book, "Pickin' on Peachtree, The History of Country Music in Atlanta, Georgia." "A lot of country music players came and went from WSB, but he stayed."

Mr. Kidwell's first performance on WSB was in 1939, when he played on the "Cross Road Follies" show with the Glenn Hughes Roundup Gang. He was so good, fellow musicians took note.

"Other musicians would say he could get more notes out of a harmonica than anybody they had ever heard. He had a lot of volume and could make a real full sound," said Mr. Daniels.

The funeral for Horace "Harpo" Kidwell, 93, who died Monday of complications from Parkinson's disease at his Adairsville residence, is 2 p.m. today, at Carmichael Funeral Home, Smyrna.

Besides playing the harmonica, Mr. Kidwell was proficient on the bass, ukulele and guitar. He was a successful songwriter of tunes such as "How Many Biscuits Can You Eat?" and "Boo-Hoo Blues."

His composition "Harpo's Waltz" was one of his most requested harmonica songs. "When you heard it, you thought about love. It was a beautiful song," said John Carson of Stone Mountain, co-president of the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame.

In 1987, Mr. Kidwell was inducted into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame. "He was the Travis Tritt of his time. When he walked on stage, his presence was felt and he showed it with his talent," said Mr. Carson.

His awards didn't stop there. In 1991, the Atlanta Society of Entertainers gave him a lifetime achievement award.

Survivors include his wife, Clestelle Kidwell; a son, Robert Kidwell of Cincinnati; two daughters, Sharon Dill of Cartersville and Connie Harkins of Adairsville; six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

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Contact Patricia Newman
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
pnewman@ajc.com


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