Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Dulcimer Festival

Even Alan got in on the fun playing a washtub fiddle.
An informal afternoon jam.

Early May brings the Dulcimer Festival to Cumberland Gap National Park. Its organizers, Terry & Pat Lewis, attend our church and so we received a personal invitation to attend. But we wanted to anyway. Held at the campgrounds, musicians from around the U.S. arrive in RVs & tents for a week of music and visiting. We attended Friday and Saturday for the lessons and concerts. What fun!
The beauty of the Park, the blue skies and mellow evenings surrounded by music were wonderful. We met a lot of very interesting people—it was a mixture of old hippies, folksters, artisans, retirees, families, serious performers and luthiers, and more. Most were skilled on dulcimers, but there was an assortment of other instruments evident like the “hurdy gurdy” (sounded like a bowed bagpipe-weird), Indian flute, varied drums, banjoes and banjammers (banjo/dulcimer combinations), fiddles, guitars, mandolins, ukuleles and more. Large and small groups jammed all day and into the evening. Even Alan got into the action with a washtub fiddle. One extravagantly encouraging older woman continually assured him he was “doing just fine.” And he was.
I went intent on discovering more about bowed psalteries. I had seen one several years ago and was determined to learn to play one. The class illustrated just how difficult bowing and technique can be in what I thought would be fairly easy. But I was not deterred and bought myself one for Mother’s Day. A few days later, with the sound of dulcimers in my head, I bought myself a dulcimer too.

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