Richard Glover interviews TAD Volunteer Jim Barrett and musician Jim Conway about the custom harmonica stand which helped Jim Conway continue to play live gigs for another year.
Below is adapted from the TAD Journal article on the project, Vol 33 no 3:
Even though Jim Conway has had multiple sclerosis (MS) for about thirty years, he believes he’s better off than most who have MS. Jim feels blessed that he has been able to pursue one of the great loves of his life, performing and playing, for as long as he has.
Jim is a highly accomplished harmonica player in the blues, jazz, country, folk and rock music scenes.
In his more than 40 years as a musician, Jim has appeared with iconic Australian bands, had two gold albums and toured nationally and internationally.
As the MS began to limit his dexterity it became increasingly difficult for Jim to manipulate the harmonica.
Catherine Cartwright, Jim’s occupational therapist, thought that TAD may be able to help and was put in touch with Jim Barrett, a TAD volunteer.
'The Two Jims’ put their heads together and came up with a simple but effective design which allows two harmonicas to be attached to a modified microphone stand using screws and magnets.
The microphone stand had to be modified so it could be simply attached to the wheelchair and easily removed when not in use. Jim Barrett describes it as one of his most satisfying achievements, delighted in the knowledge that his small contribution has meant that Jim can continue performing, playing and doing what he loves.
For Jim Conway it means he can keep going.
“Working as a musician has kept my spirit strong. It is difficult for me these days but it is definitely still worthwhile.”