After playing the mountain dulcimer for an number of years; it is challenging to branch out to learn new instruments. So I’ve taken up the penny whistle. The penny whistle makes a nice compliment to the dulcimer and the two instruments are similar in several respects. I found a beautiful Scottish tune, “Ye Banks and Braes o’ Bonnie Doon” while browsing through tin whistle books and decided to arrange it for whistle and dulcimer.
We took a trip to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia a couple of weeks ago. A side trip just a few miles off Interstate 81 at Dayton, Virginia, took us to a land which felt like another time zone deep in the heart of the valley. This was rural old-order Mennonite farm land and we seemed to go back in time several centuries; idealistic, scenic and surreal. The purpose of our visit was to stop at a country store which carried a collection of shape note hymnals.
While sorting through stacks and stacks of dulcimer tablature that I have accumulated over the years, I ran across a partially finished version of Stephen Foster’s “Beautiful Dreamer.” This is one of my favorite Stephen Foster’s songs. It is very melodic, beautiful. And I see why I never completed the tablature — it is difficult to play on the mountain dulcimer.
Our 16th annual dulcimer festival is coming quickly. It’s March 9- 12, 2017, in Port Allen, Louisiana. We have a great line-up of musicians and performers coming from all-over the country as well as many vendors. Our theme is “Yankee Doodle Dulcimer” Extravaganza and includes several special events. One is a music jam for dulcimers and acoustic instruments based on songs from the Revolutionary War Era on Thursday afternoon.
Ring in the New Year of 2017 by playing “Auld Lang Syne” on your dulcimer. Surprise your family and guests as you play and sing this song at midnight. It’s an easy song to play on the dulcimer. And it is much easier to play a song when you already know the melody and words.
A good tune for Halloween is one that sounds haunted, eerie, spooky. On the dulcimer, these tunes are played in a minor mode or key using a different tuning or capo. It is easy to do this and opens up a new world of beautiful yet whimsical melodies and songs. Continue reading
I recently visited my mother, who lives in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, and was fortunate to sit in on a Galax-style dulcimer and old-time string band jam. I was told that the dulcimers would be tuned to DDD — all the strings pitched to the same note — for this jam. Continue reading
What a milestone this year for the Lagniappe Dulcimer Society: This is our 15th year of hosting a highly successful dulcimer festival. It is alot of work and effort with an all-volunteer organization and staff but the festival always turns out well. It is a chance to meet new and old friends, jam, play music and listen to some good musicians. Continue reading
Several days ago, a gentleman walked into one of our local libraries and handed the librarian–a dulcimer player–a stack of 22 classic dulcimer records from the 1970’s. All were in stellar condition. The man had seen an article in our local newspaper about a dulcimer class at the library and decided to donate his entire collection of records to our dulcimer club. As we looked through the record jackets, what a treasure this was!
Mardi Gras comes early this year–February 9, 2016. This is carnival time in south Louisiana — parades, pageantry, costumes, balls, parties, king cakes. We play many of the traditional Mardi Gras songs on the dulcimer and I credit the tablature for the music to Paul Andry of Mandeville, Louisiana.