British Columbia

Kelowna man loves harmonicas so much he has 700 of them

Sherman Doucette fell in love with the harmonica almost 50 years ago and his love for the instrument — along with his collection — has only grown since.

'They say you don't pick the harmonica, it picks you,' says Kelowna bluesman Sherman Doucette

Sherman Doucette's love for the harmonica really began when he first heard I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man by Muddy Waters. (Alya Ramadan/CBC)

The only thing Sherman Doucette had with him when he left home at the age of 15, was a $20 bill and a harmonica. 

"I hitchhiked to Vancouver, stayed at the hostels there but I had no way to get money. So I started playing it on the street in Gastown on Water Street," he said.

It was there where he met Canadian blues band The Powder Blues and began playing with them, eventually making a name for himself and playing music full-time.

Doucette fell in love with the harmonica serendipitously.

"I went to the library for some reason, to just to look around to kill some time," he said.

While there someone pointed out the library's record collection and, once in the section, he heard I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man by Muddy Waters. 

"I could not believe that harmonica sound," he remembered.

Harp town museum

Today, he has over 700 antique harmonicas at his home in Kelowna. 

"They say you don't pick the harmonica it picks you," said Doucette adding that playing the instrument is the "only thing I know how to do really good you know?

"I still love it as much, even more than when I started."

Doucette teaches and plays the harmonica at the School of Blues at the Rotary Centre for the Arts in Kelowna.

Doucette says his collection started off with a small case and it just kept growing. (Alya Ramadan/CBC)

With files from the CBC's Daybreak South and Alya Ramadan.

To hear the full story listen to the audio labelled: Kelowna man loves harmonicas, so he has 700 of them.