September is past, still the mighty Mississippi River flows on. One of the best original songs written for the dulcimer, in my opinion, is about this river and it is called “September on the Mississippi” by Larry Conger. The song is melodic, gently flowing and the chords fit the dulcimer perfectly. Our club members love to play it.
Larry and Elaine Conger
Larry Conger and his wife, Elaine, are full time mountain dulcimer players and teachers. Larry is originally from the state of Mississippi; the couple recently moved to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. This move has been a good one and the Congers have enjoyed new music opportunities and gigs. Larry has been involved with music education for most of his adult life and has served as a Church Music Director at various Baptist congregations. He won the coveted National Mountain Dulcimer Championship at Winfield, Kansas, in 1998. Elaine is a professional musician and past school teacher.
Now Larry and Elaine teach, perform at workshops around the country, write dulcimer tablature books, teach online distance learning and they lead the very popular and enduring summer mountain dulcimer week-long conference called “Dulcimer University” at Western Carolina University. The Congers have been featured performers at the Lagniappe Dulcimer Festival several times. Here is Larry in 2015 teaching a workshop at the Lagniappe fête.
The Congers also lead three additional dulcimer retreats and workshops, “September on the Mississippi Dulcimer Retreat” at Natchez, Mississippi, the “Duet Dulcimer Retreat” in Catz, Kentucky, and the “Gatlinburg Dulcimer Hymmposium.” Busy and productive is how I would describe their lives.
Here are four Lagniappe members at the “Duet Dulcimer Retreat.” These ladies thoroughly enjoyed the retreat.
Fall Road trip with a stop in Baton Rouge for Workshop and Concert
This fall Congers are currently on an extended road trip around the southwest and will be heading to Baton Rouge in October. We are fortunate that they have included a one-day stop here in our city on October 24. The Lagniappe Dulcimer Society is hosting the couple as they give two workshops in the afternoon and a concert that night. The club will provide a catered supper.
The couple are very popular workshop leaders and for good reason. Their musical arrangements for dulcimer are very creative and achievable for most dulcimer players novice and above. Larry’s fingerpicking style of playing the dulcimer brings out the best in the instrument. And their duet arrangements, especially, always have a unique aspect and are fun for two people to play. The harmonies are interesting and the melody often changes from one dulcimer in the duet to the other. It makes playing the dulcimer challenge — and pleasing to listen too.
Larry has written many tablature books — I have quite a collection. These are available for purchase on his WEB site. They range from classical tunes, to fiddle tunes to gospel tunes to Christmas music.
“September on the Mississippi”, written for dulcimer, is one of our club’s favorite songs. Perhaps Larry will share some new tunes with us at his visit in Baton Rouge in October. Everyone is invited to attend the concert that night — all dulcimer players are welcome to attend the afternoon workshops, which have a charge of $35.00. Please register in advance so the planning committee will know how many catered suppers are needed.
Here’s the Mississippi River in our part of the world — Baton Rouge — a busy port town.