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dulcimers in Kentucky 2010


Kentucky Music Week (KMW) – 21st to 25th June 2010 - Bardstown, Kentucky


mountain dulcimers


This was my 3rd KMW dulcimer festival.  Read about my 1st trip to Kentucky. It was great to be back in Kentucky again, to connect with many old friends and meet a few new ones too. To mention but two: Butch Ross and Stephen Seifert are both great mountain dulcimer players. Butch is a consummate performer and Steve is, in my opinion, the finest player in the world.


New friends I met this time included the excellent musician Dan Landrum, a hammer dulcimer player and editor of the Dulcimer Players News (DPN) magazine. Dan has taken the DPN forward with contemporary graphics and quality printing.


Dan Landrum


I also met and enjoyed the company of Bing Futch, a handsome and very cool man and I shared a room with Steve Eulberg, a great guy and knowledgeable musician. Reads Steve's blog on me and my playing.


Bing Futch


I flew into Louisville, Kentucky on the Saturday and stayed for the 3rd time with old friends and lovely couple Karl & Scottie Sebree, who are members of the Louisville Dulcimer Society. We were joined on the Sunday by Robert Force, a mountain dulcimer player who uses a strap and plays standing up. We made our way to the festival at Bardstown for a tutor briefing with Festival Director Nancy Barker.


Karl, Scottie & Robert


Workshops ran Monday to Friday and I lead four classes each day: three on mountain dulcimer in DAA tuning (the Ionian mode), from beginner to advanced and a song class based on my UK voice workshop: Everyone Can Sing.


The tutors gave concerts on Monday and Tuesday evenings. Everyone I spoke to felt that Butch Ross’ performance was outstanding. Butch also gave an informal presentation using multiple dulcimers and a sampler to create layers of sound from a solo performance – it was very well thought through and enthusiastically received. The techniques he used are similar to my own electric guitar work.


Butch Ross


On the Wednesday evening we found ourselves at Weavers Corner, the home and business premises of friend and hammer dulcimer player, Martha Richard. The weaving machines were impressive and her fabrics were lovely looking and soft to the touch.


Weaver's Corner


Nancy Barker puts on a great festival – there’s so much going on – it’s hard work, but relaxed and great fun. Each day has a different theme, culminating in a Mardi Gras party on the Friday night at which I danced with (new friend) Jeff Furman’s wife. I don’t dance well – I hope I didn’t step on her toes.


As well as the workshops there were special events scheduled, including a tribute to the late David Schnaufer and a tribute to the late British dulcimer player, Roger Nicholson. It was an honour for me to lead the tribute to Roger. Read more about Roger.


My own concert performance received favorable comment and my voice class students gave two performances at short notice, including a round in French - they acquitted themselves very well indeed. We had a few tears on my voice workshop during a session on how to connect with the emotion of the song. This is very rewarding work.


my voice class


Excellent hammer dulcimer player Rick Thum is also a maker of the instrument – his craftsmanship is superb. He arrived in a beautiful old green van, which he had restored himself.


Rick Thum


Looking back on the week, two highlights stand out for me …


Long standing friend, Alice Burton and I learned some duets for mountain and bowed dulcimer – the two instruments complemented each other beautifully. We performed a lovely arrangement of the Beatles’ song Let It Be to an attentive and appreciative audience.


Alice & Dan


On Friday night Steve Seifert and I swapped dulcimers and improvised non-stop for over 30 minutes without a word being spoken. It was original, innovative, flowing and flawless. Steve is not just the leading dulcimer player, he’s also a very funny guy. Earlier in the week he said to me: “I want to play with you this week. If my theory about the after-life is wrong, we may not get and other chance.”

You only live once and I’m really glad I made the trip.  



more images ...   



Swallowtail butterfly




Marsha Harris



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