The CP Article


ABout The Author:

CP Christopher Peppas is a journalist, jazz vocalist and conga player in the Greater Milwaukee area and Correspondent at Large for the Jazz Unlimited Newsletter and a Field Editor for Our Wisconsin Magazine.

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From Haberdasher to Harpman,

Jim Schoberg  is Tailor-Made to Play!

By CP Christopher Peppas   


It stands to reason that, after thirty-eight years at the helm of J.Roberts Menswear in Elkhorn,

that Jim Schoberg would know a little bit about a perfect fit. And Schoberg’s all about fitting in.


When it comes to his own gigs, sitting in at a musical jam or ten or just adding that little

something extra at friends’ shows, Jim is like “Have Harmonica, Will Travel.”


Jim would be the first to admit that he’s a bit of a late bloomer. And he took his sweet time to

get to where he is today. Nonetheless, Schoberg has turned the sit-in into an art form.


When it comes to his own gigs, sitting in at a musical jam or ten or just adding that little

something extra at friends’ shows, Jim is like “Have Harmonica, Will Travel.”



“It’s a neat story and a bit of a fluke,” Jim said when talking about he lit upon the mouth organ as his instrument of choice.

“I had no musical background whatsoever,” Schoberg explained.

“One day, my son came over with a harmonica and left it with me to fool around with it a little.


    And fool around, he did. “I wasn’t very good as first

    and I never played around (wife) Marilyn,” Jim

    explained. “I played in the car for two years. I played

    on the lawn tractor. I played in the house. I played

    in the basement.”


    He took his newly honed skill on the road and started

    the journey that led him here  today. And when I say

    road,  I mean T-H-E R-O-A-D!

    Jim played his first time in front of people at a castle in




And, just about every winter, the Schobergs make their way to sunny Mexico, where he has been playing with some of the same

musicians for twenty years. “This works out to hundreds of people over the years,” Jim said. “I’ve played on many of their recordings

and countless gigs,” he added.


The harp is the best choice for Schoberg because “I just love to play with different people and in different genres. And his influences

are just as varied. From the Rock & Rollers like Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen to the west coast Chicago Blues style of William

Clarke to Madison’s West Side Andy and “one of the best harmonica players of all time: Sonny Terry.”


A couple of other pieces to this musical pastiche are definitely the Country touch of Mickey  

Raphael, who played alongside Willie Nelson for a bunch of years, wailing away on his Hohner

Echo Harp and last (but certainly in no way least): Stevie Wonder.


Schoberg remembers being mesmerized when seeing Stevie on the Ed Sullivan Show when they

were both young teenagers.


In addition to Mexico, Ireland, Scotland and England, Jim has played all over Asia as his two sons

have lived and worked in Thailand for a few years. A recent trip for a son’s wedding had him

harping in the former Siam (natch), Cambodia and Vietnam among others.


He finally got around to playing in The States in 2005, starting at the venerable Caroline’s. “I was going there twice a week,” Jim said.

“I played with The Big O, Harvey Westmoreland and the cool cat behind the kit, Paul Spencer, who has held forth on the weekends

since there was a Caroline’s.


“He taught me so much,” Schoberg said of Spencer. “I have to give him credit. It was unreal.” At one point, Spencer told him to “play

some jazz…and so, I did.”


I strongly urge everyone to go to the jams and the various gigs to see Jim and hear him play. Better yet, start your own group, book a

gig and then look to your right. You might just see (and hear) Jim Schoberg ‘sitting-in.

           CP Article: May 2023: Download a Hard Copy   Here


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December 2022:  Sue Russell November 2022:  Joel Lehman October 2022:  Caroline's
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March 2017:  Chuck Hedges Tribute Concert February 2017:  Jamie Aebersold January 2017:  Youth Jazz Outreach
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