Garden State Harmonica Club

2 special past and incredibly talented members, Phil Caltabellotta and Frank Grova. 

Members of Note

It is with great sadness that we have lost both, within a short time, the warm, talented Charlie Toker and our wonderful, amazing music director, Frank Grova. We will always think of them with admiration, hear their laughter and music, see their twinkling eyes and revel in their indomitable spirits. Each was so special to all of us.

Charlie, aka “Daddy T.”, began playing the harmonica as a teenager.  He has been lead player for the Harmonica Reeds; a decades long member and performer at The Garden State Harmonica Club and leader of the wonderful 17 North Band.  He also played keyboard, specializing in blues and boogie and has appeared on television and stage; at nightclubs in jazz and blues shows; and has entertained on cruise ships and at resorts. 

Charlie and the Band have enjoyed entertaining at senior citizens’ nursing and retirement homes.  His love of music is shared by Judy, his wife of more than 50 years, and his two children and five grandchildren.  Charlie was a talented, witty, sweetheart of a man and will be missed by all of us.  The GSHC sends Judy and family our deepest sympathy.  She has also been a valued club member, whose generosity and kindness is always appreciated.  Charlie's spirit and joyfulness will stay with us forever.

Frank Grova was singular in his love of music and ability to play from his heart.  He was a wonderful, tireless leader of The Ensemble, coming to the rehearsals well into his battle with brain cancer. He was appreciated and held dear among the GSHC members.  An original club member, he offered his home, with his studio in his basement, to practice, create CD's and offer his professional opinions to enhance the recordings.  He was also a remarkable family man who will be missed by three generations of the Grova family and all of us from the GSHC.
 


Other members of distinction include:

Abe Barzelay, an accomplished classical music player on the heart...oops, we mean "harp",  Abe moves us to tears and is considered one of the best players worldwide.  He studied under Larry Adler, and he has him beat, in mine and many others opinions.  Abe's concerts are incredible, his range masterful and his spirit phenomenal.  He is also a sound engineer, among other talents, and an enormous help in setting up our sound system anytime called upon. 

Ralph Viola, The Ensemble's Music Director.  Not only is he a fabulous player, we are quite certain that he has a harmony "chip" in his brain!  He keeps the Monday Night Open Mic sessions going for hours and leads The Ensemble's performances with tireless attention to detail.  In addition, he travels from way down in South Jersey to Glen Rock and our gigs.  He is a phenom and a sweetheart and we are thrilled to have him.  Frank was not an easy act to follow.  Thanks, Ralph.

Pat Maturo, a sensational blues player, adds another dimension to our club and has taught several players his inimitable style.

Bill Farbstein plays, well, everything, from accordion to bass, chromatic and chromatic.  We call his "Encyclopedia Bill", because if a song has been written, he knows it and will play it on the spot.  He is so talented.

Bonnie Farbstein (no relation, except by 40-plus years of marriage to Bill!), has become an excellent player, having picked up the chromatic just several years ago.  Her obvious love of music, ability to read with near perfection and her desire to further the club and our gigs by introducing -- and making copies of our new songs for our playlist, have made her a mainstay of the Ensemble.

Harry Feinberg, a harmonica legend, continues to come to almost every Open Mic, even in currently (2015) his mid-nineties.  He is still teaching and loves to regale us with his repertoire, which spans more than five decades.  What a role model he is!  Visit the "Harmonica History" page to go down memory lane, compiled by Dan Bauch.

Sue Fallon, MC and vocalist for our performances,  has been credited with keeping audiences enlivened, happy and involved.  Although she doesn't play -- yet? -- she loves being involved with the club and strives to expand the GSHC and to reach the general public, whose knowledge and appreciation of the mouth organ will likely keep it alive for generations to come.This list is by no means complete - you know who you are, trusty members, past and present - and as we grow, individually and collectively, this page will be revised.  Since the club belongs to all of us, you are urged to send commentary, ideas, suggestions and writings to gardenstateharmonicaclub@hotmail.com.