Before WWII, harmonica groups were a HUGE phenomenon in the USA. They tended to consist of one Bass harmonica player covering the bass parts, one chordal player playing a special instrument that had all the chords needed, and one lead player who usually would play a chromatic harmonica.
The first harmonica group to gain national fame was created and promoted by Borrah Minevitch called the Harmonica Rascals. There was a lot of slapstick and showmanship involved in these performances, but also a lot of virtuosity. As you can see and hear in this video.
An offshoot from the rascals was Johnny Puleo and His Harmonica Gang. There were many other popular groups such as Carl Freed and Harmonica Harlequins, the Cappy Barra Harmonica Ensemble, Johnny O’brien and the Harmonica Hi-Hats, The Mulcays, and the Stagg McCann Trio.
Perhaps the most popular harmonica group ever is Jerry Murad and the Harmonicats. While they also incorporated showmanship and comedy, and did a lot of commercially viable stuff, they also did some technically brilliant stuff. If you. like classical music, check out the album that they were personally most proud of (even though not their most popular) called Harmonica Rhapsody.
Do you listen to harmonica groups? If so, post a link to your favorite song!