If you're going to try to break a world record by having 10,000 people play the same instrument at the same time, Rocks Off supposes the harmonica is a pretty good way to go, and a ballpark is a pretty good place to do it.
And so the Astros, who until their recent success on the East Coast might have had a hard time getting 10,000 people in Minute Maid Park period, have agreed to allow the folks behind last year's harmonica documentary Pocket Full of Soul a chance to break the Guinness world record for Largest Harmonica Ensemble following next Friday's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. (Here's the Q&A Rocks Off did with director Marc Lempert last year.)
Unlike the Astros, the Dodgers have at least an outside shot at making the postseason; L.A. (67-64) currently trails National League wild-card leader Philadelphia by six and a half games. The harmonicas will be distributed before the game, opening the door to all kinds of distractions for Andre Ethier, James Loney or our old buddy Brad Ausmus while they're trying to hit.
Rocks Off emailed Pocket Full of Soul co-executive producer Todd Slobin earlier today to find out more about what amounts to both the most awesome and potentially terrifying baseball-game promotion we've ever heard of.
Rocks Off: How did this come about?
Todd Slobin: Marc Lempert and I were discussing ideas about doing something big for the harmonica. Well, this is big. One thing led to another, and I pitched the idea to the Astros. They were on board from the start. It's just a fun event. Who doesn't like the harmonica?
When you put 10,000 harmonicas together you are guaranteed a good time. This is either going to sound amazing or it will be quite painful. We are hoping for amazing.
RO: Where are you getting all the harmonicas from?
TS: Wise Men Consultants is sponsoring the event. The harmonicas are from Hohner. They really worked with us to make this happen.
RO: Who are a few of the harmonica players who will be coaching the fans?
TS: Local talent Sonny Boy Terry, Gary Allegretto (with Harmonkids, a charitable organization), Ronnie Shellist from Denver and Michael Rubin from Austin. All of these players are also harmonica instructors.
RO: What song(s) will all these people be playing?
TS: "I'm a Man" by Bo Diddley.
RO: Who holds the current record for largest harmonica ensemble?
TS: Hong Kong with 6,131. We are giving out 10,000, plus fans can bring their own harmonicas, and those will be counted as well.
RO: What happens to all those harmonicas after everyone is done playing?
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TS: The fans get to keep them.
RO: Are fans just politely asked not to play the harmonicas until the game is over?
TS: No. As far as I know, they can play them all night long.
If you'd like to take a more hands-on role in next Friday's events, Slobin and the other Pocket Full folks are looking for volunteers to help hand out harmonicas before the game and collect participation slips afterward. Contact him through the Pocket Full Web site, where discounted tickets to the game are also available.