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2024 Instructors

Aaron O'Rourke

Aaron O'Rourke

Mountain Dulcimer

Aaron O'Rourke’s exploration of the mountain dulcimer began in high school at a time when his only musical experience consisted of playing bass in a punk rock band. In the fall of 2002 Aaron began his first dulcimer lessons and in 2004, Aaron attended Western Carolina University’s Dulcimer Week on a youth scholarship. The next year, Aaron was invited back as an instructor. In a short period of time, Aaron became one of the headlining names at many dulcimer festivals across the country including, Dulcimer Week at the Augusta Heritage Center (David & Elkins College) in Elkins, WV, Kentucky Music Week in Bardstown, KY, Redwood Dulcimer Day in Santa Cruz, CA, Nutmeg Dulcimer Festival in Middletown, CT, Suwannee Dulcimer Retreat in White Springs, FL and many more. To date, Aaron has authored seven instructional books for mountain dulcimer. In 2010, Aaron won the National Mountain Dulcimer Competition held at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, KS. Aaron is also a past winner in the Florida Old-time music competition held in Dade City, FL and the Southeastern Regional Dulcimer Contest in Mountain View, AR.

Bing Futch

Bing Futch

Mountain Dulcimer, Native American Flute

With a big smile and wild dreadlocks, Bing Futch kicks off every performance with a buoyant energy that is inviting and energizing.  Using Appalachian mountain dulcimer, Native American flute, ukulele, drums and electronic effects, he deftly navigates the varied waters of traditional and modern Americana with passion, wit and a genuinely huge heart for sharing music with a crowd. 

 

Known for his musical shape-shifting, Futch switches the channels on style with every new song, sung in a limber tenor voice and woven together with the other instruments. His casual way with any audience, coupled with a fierce originality on the lesser known mountain dulcimer, makes each show a one-of-a-kind and good-timing romp. 

 

As a nationally touring solo performer he's headlined at such events as The Florida Folk Festival, Old Songs Festival, The Big Muddy, Kentucky Music Weekend and Common Ground On The Hill. 

 

In 2014, Bing won the "Solo Artist" award in the Central Florida Blues Challenge competition, earning a coveted entry into the 2015 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN. Taking the mountain dulcimer where it had never gone before, Bing competed in the quarterfinals and advanced to the semifinals, gaining new notice and fans for himself and this unique instrument. Several months later, Bing competed in the 2015 Central Florida Blues Challenge and won the Solo/Duo Award for the second year in a row, which led him back to Memphis to compete in the 2016 International Blues Challenge.  There, he advanced all the way to the finals and was given the award for "Best Guitarist" in the solo-duo category, despite competing solely on the mountain dulcimer.
 

Dave Haas

Dave Haas

Mountain Dulcimer

Dave Haas lives in Charleston, WV and has been playing the mountain dulcimer since 1990. He teaches dulcimer in both private and group settings, and was the founding member of the Almost Heaven Dulcimer Club in Charleston. Dave loves to share the mountain dulcimer and its history with schools, churches, civic organizations, and has even brought the dulcimer to those in prison! Dave is a popular instructor at dulcimer festivals, and has taught and performed in more than one-half of the United States and in the United Kingdom. He is known for his gentle, fun, and enthusiastic teaching style. Dave has released seven dulcimer instructional books/CDs – including the very popular “Let’s Jam!” book/CDs, four instrumental dulcimer CDs, and a popular dulcimer chord chart. Dave is proud to be an Endorsing Artist for Folkcraft Instruments since 2014.


Dave recently retired Professor Emeritus from the University of Charleston where he exposed countless students the joy of Chemistry. One of his favorite teaching activities was to sing chemistry songs (on dulcimer and guitar) with his students. In addition, Dave plays the guitar, sings, and enjoys leading music on Christian retreat experiences such as Kairos Prison Ministry, The Walk to Emmaus, Cursillo, and Teens Encounter Christ (TEC).


More information on Dave can be obtained at www.davehaasmusic.com.

Don Pedi

Don Pedi

Mountain Dulcimer

Don Pedi was born into a musical family in Chelsea Massachusetts. On weekends, his grandfather, who died before Don was born, would close his barber shop for business, and open his home in the back as a gathering place for family and friends to share homemade food, fellowship and live music. Don's grandfather played guitar, mandolin and banjo. Don's uncle Frank made his living singing and playing music. Another gifted singer is Don's dad. He'll burst into song at the drop of a hat.

Don got involved with the Boston area folk music scene in the early sixties. 1964 was when he first laid eyes on a dulcimer. It was being played by Richard Farina at a live performance by Mimi and Richard Farina at the old Unicorn Coffee House in Boston.

The sound of the dulcimer proved most alluring. That night in a conversation with Richard Farina, Don was convinced that someday he would get himself a dulcimer and play it. Contemporary performers like Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton, Patrick Sky, Joan Baez and others attracted Don to the Newport Folk Festival. While there he was exposed to traditional musicians like Frank Proffitt, Doc Watson, Mississippi John Hurt, Almeda Riddle and such that where a major influence on his musical tastes. By 1966 Don was traveling a lot. With Cambridge as a base, he lived for various periods of time in different parts of the country. In 1973, while living in the Colorado Rockies, Don met Tad Wright and Keith Zimmerman, a couple of musicians from Asheville, NC. After hearing Don play, they invited him to join them. He did, and they piled into Tad's 1969 Volkswagen mini-van and drove to North Carolina.

At first sight of the mountains around Harmon Den and Fines Creek, Don knew he was home. He's pretty much lived in and around Asheville from then on. Since settling in Western North Carolina Don has been recognized as the man who could "really play" a dulcimer. He is a pioneer in that his music has broken new ground and cleared a path for others. In Don's hands, the dulcimer has been accepted as an instrument well suited to playing traditional Southern Dance music. This was at a time when most "Old-Time" musicians thought a dulcimer should be hung on a wall with a pretty ribbon.

In 1991 Don and wife Jean moved to a little farm in the mountains of Madison County, North Carolina. The area is rich in traditional music and customs (neighbors still plow with mules and horses). Don is at home.

Ilace Mears

Ilace Mears

Hammered Dulcimer

ILACE MEARS ("Eye-less") grew up playing violin and piano in Louisiana, sadly ignorant of the existence of hammered dulcimers. To celebrate turning 50, she bought one - and embarked on a tremendous adventure. Now several trophies are displayed on the mantel, including the one that says "National Champion 2016". She enjoys sharing her passion for the instrument and its versatility with her neighbors and visitors to Southwest Missouri, particularly the exotic insects and mostly domestic humans at the Butterfly Palace in Branson. Ilace most loves helping students reach their dulcimer dreams and has been a very favorably reviewed instructor/performer at events from Virginia to California and Michigan to Louisiana.

Jeff Furman

Jeff Furman

Mountain Dulcimer

Jeff is an award-winning mountain dulcimer player who is known for his smooth and expressive style. His gentle, humorous, and effective teaching style has made him a very popular instructor at numerous mountain dulcimer workshops across the country. Jeff is a multi-instrumentalist who has been playing old-time music since 1980. Primarily a clawhammer banjo player for many years, he developed a rhythmic and melodic style which has heavily influenced his dulcimer playing. He has an extensive repertoire of old-time fiddle music which crosses over to a strong interest in Celtic music. He has a particular fondness for waltzes and Celtic airs on the dulcimer. He has been performing for more than 37 years, and his technical abilities, quick ear, musical sensitivity, and expression have made Jeff a popular choice for playing on multiple recordings, including music from Ireland, Scotland, the Appalachian Mountains, and American folk tunes. Touching someone’s heart with his music is Jeff’s most rewarding goal.


He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


Please visit his website at www.jefffurman.com to learn more about Jeff, his music, his recordings and books, and more.

Jim Miller

Jim Miller

Autoharp, Guitar

Jim Miller has been playing and performing traditional music for the past 40 years. An accomplished instrument builder and teacher, he has taught workshops at numerous festivals as well as won many awards for his musicianship, including first place dulcimer at both Galax, VA and Fiddler's Grove, NC. For twenty years, Jim was the owner of the Hampton Music Shop, in Hampton, Tennessee, where he handcrafted over 750 hammered dulcimers. He has played with Celtic, Bluegrass, Swing, Blues and Old Time bands, and has done session work on many recordings. He currently performs in a duo accompanied by his wife, Cheri, on guitar.

 

In addition to being an accomplished performer and workshop leader, Jim also is an enthusiastic jam facilitator who likes to get everyone involved. His "chord signing for the harmonically impared" is legendary. He plays guitar, mandolin, banjo, mandocello, bass, steel drum, percussion, hammered and mountain dulcimers as well as his own off-the-wall musical inventions, which are always entertaining. Jim holds a Masters degree in Elementary Education with an endorsement in instrumental music. He recently retired from teaching 4th grade at Cloudland Elementary School in Roan Mountain, Tennessee, where he still leads an after school traditional string band program. He is also an adjunct professor teaching mandolin, ukulele, dulcimer and autoharp in the Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music program at East Tennessee State University and plays mandocello in the ETSU Mandolin Orchestra.

Joe Collins

Joe Collins

Mountain Dulcimer

Joe Collins, 2007 National Mountain Dulcimer Champion, has been a folk musician and mountain dulcimer player since the late 70s. He is a songwriter and a vocalist, with seven CDs and fifteen tab books to his credit.  Although respected as one of the best mountain dulcimer players in the country, Joe is first and foremost a teacher.  After a career as a professor of Religious Studies at Gardner-Webb University, he now focuses on teaching bible studies and dulcimer. Over the past quarter century, he has become a very popular mountain dulcimer teacher in festivals and music camps across the country.  You’ll enjoy his easy-going teaching style and well-designed instructional materials.   For additional information, visit his website at www.jcdulcimer.com.

Josh Goforth

Josh Goforth

Josh grew up in Madison County, North Carolina surrounded by the music and stories of his ancestors. He is a highly accomplished storyteller and oldtime, bluegrass, and swing musician playing close to 20 instruments. His fiddling was featured in the movie Songcatcher, both onscreen and on the soundtrack. He has performed in all 50 states, throughout Europe, Asia, and Australia and gracing such stages as the Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and The Grand Ole Opry. He was nominated for a Grammy for his 2009 release with David Holt, entitled Cutting Loose.

Katie Moritz

Katie Moritz

Ken Kolodner

Ken Kolodner

Hammered Dulcimer

Ken Kolodner is widely recognized as one of "one of today's most accomplished, musical hammered dulcimer artists..." (Elderly) and a fine old-time fiddler. As a soloist and in ensembles with Helicon (with Chris Norman and Robin Bullock), Greenfire (with Laura Risk), with fiddlers Elke Baker, Jim Eagan, his son Bradley (see www.kenandbrad.com), and many others, Ken has performed for more than 30 years.

Focusing largely on traditional music, Kolodner has often been called one of the most influential players in the U.S. His music has been featured on national broadcasts on NPR, The Thistle and the Shamrock, All Things Considered, the CBC, the Voice of America, German National Radio, Performance Today and countless radio shows. 

His many credits are a featured solo in an Emmy-nominated CBS-TV Christmas special, over a dozen recordings with sales well over 125,000, an "Indie" winner and a #1 World Music title of traditional Celtic music (Walking Stones) and bestseller for BMG (with over 55,000 copies sold), and numerous books and instructional recordings (including a book/CD on old time fiddling for Mel Bay). 

Lil Rev

Lil Rev

Lil Rev (Marc Revson) grew up in Milwaukee, WI. As a kid his first inspiration came from listening to his dad's record collection. Then, at age 14 Lil Rev got his first guitar and today (over 40 years later) Lil Rev is best known for his Yiddish music, and as a renowned ukulele and harmonica player. Lil Rev performs about 125-150 shows a year, sometimes alone, and sometimes when he’s lucky, his wife Jenna and daughter Mariela come along. Rev’s career largely revolves around touring North America, teaching at music camps, festivals, and concert series, as well as presenting his one man musical history shows like:  scraps of quilting music,  jews n blues, and  the jews of tin pan alley.

Linda Block

Linda Block

Dance

Linda Block is recognized as a Blue Ridge National Heritage Area artist. She teaches all levels of Appalachian Clogging/Flat Foot classes for adults, seniors, and elementary students in group lessons, privately, and through Air BnB Experiences. Linda has worked as an instructor at the John C. Campbell Folk School (Brasstown, NC), the Handmade Music School (Floyd. VA), and has performed with numerous Appalachian Clogging teams and occasionally as a busker on the streets of Asheville, NC. She currently dances with the infamous Green Grass Cloggers (since 2009) which takes her to festivals throughout western North Carolina and east Tennessee to perform and teach. Over the years, she has placed 1st or 2nd in numerous solo clogging competitions. Linda also created clogging choreography for western North Carolina author Kiesa Kay’s original play, Love Makes a Home (2018).


As a career Environmental Educator, Linda prides herself in her interactive and varied teaching style and receives high praise from her students. She passes her life-long passion for dance to those with whom she has the privilege to interact.

Mary Lynn Michal

Mary Lynn Michal

Hammered Dulcimer

In 2012, Mary Lynn discovered a passion for playing the hammered dulcimer and has studied intensively with Ken Kolodner, widely regarded as one of the nation's top hammered dulcimer players. She now teaches over 70 hammered dulcimer students privately and on FaceTime (from CA, NM, NY, TN, NH, AL, CO, MD, MI, and Australia). She has prepared dozens of students to attend Ken Kolodner's Sandbridge Hammered Dulcimer Retreats, an elite hammered dulcimer retreat held in Sandbridge Beach, VA. Mary Lynn serves as an assistant teacher in Weeks 1 and 2.

Mary Lynn began playing piano at the age of 6 and studied for 14 years. In sixth grade she played trumpet, but discovered her true passion the next year when she heard a french horn. She earned a Bachelor's degree in music education from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Master's degree in music education from Eastman School of Music. Mary Lynn has performed with the Durham Symphony for 20 years and served as Principal Horn for the past 5 years.

Pam Bowman

Pam Bowman

Hammered Dulcimer

Pam is a northern Michigan native - growing up a "stone's throw" from the Evart (Funfest) area and hailing from Marion, Michigan. A teacher by trade and a musician from birth, Pam Bowman has played guitar and sang from the time she was young. It was in this dulcimer rich region that she first heard and saw a hammered dulcimer being played by a friend's father, while still a teen. It was nearly 10 years later when she noticed its unique tones drifting through the atmosphere of a local, historic craft shop - inquired if it was a hammered dulcimer in the recording - and thought to herself..."I'm old enough to buy one of those now!" 


Since that time she has been performing with the hammered dulcimer for over 27 years as a soloist, as a duo with guitarist Jeff Gardner, and with a five piece group called Just Jammin' - performing gospel/country/bluegrass music. In 2005 Pam entered and won the Southern Regional Hammered Dulcimer Competition in Mt. View, Arkansas. Pam gives private lessons and group lessons (in person and online) on the hammered dulcimer, as well as teaching work-shops and performing at various festivals. 


Her students love and give acclaim to her incomparable hammered dulcimer tablature, which she developed and includes with her lessons and arrangement books. Pam also performs her unique style of hammered dulcimer and arrangements for many other venues. She has eight recordings available, as well as four books of arrangements for the hammered dulcimer - and a series of instructional cd's focused on hymns. Pam gives all of the glory for her talents and abilities, to our God & Savior and is truly thankful for the gift of music!

Rick Thum

Rick Thum

Hammered Dulcimer

Ranked as the most influential dulcimer player of the last decade by readers of Dulcimer Player News, Rick Thum has made his mark on every aspect of the hammered dulcimer world. Rick is perhaps best known from his latest album, “Front Porch Waltz,” and his festival performances, which have regularly earned him the “most popular performer” title at the largest national dulcimer festival. He brings a combination of passion and friendly accessibility to his teaching that makes his workshops and master classes favorites at festivals across the country, and has tapped this teaching experience to produce the best-selling instructional CD series for hammered dulcimer, the “Original Song of the Month Club”. Rick is also the designer of the highly-regarded line of hammered dulcimers bearing his name. Yet for all his time in the studio, onstage, in the classroom, and in the luthier’s shop, Rick is most at home at a late-night jam session, where you might even find him playing an instrument other than the dulcimer from time to time.

 

Rick Thum taught himself to play guitar and drums at age twelve and played the trumpet in his high school band. Throughout high school and college (B. S. Industrial Administration) Rick played in rock bands, eventually playing regularly on the upper deck of the Admiral in St. Louis. While raising his family Rick directed his church choir. Rick’s interest in traditional music was sparked when he bought a hammered dulcimer on a whim and found himself in a three-piece folk band. In 1991 Rick became co-owner of a large midwestern acoustic instrument shop. In 1994 he sold his interest in the shop to devote more time to being a traveling musician. Rick was voted Best Performer and Favorite Teacher for several years running at the prestigious Evart Dulcimer Funfest. (The oldest and largest dulcimer festival in the nation.) He has shared the stage with Mike Seeger, The Tony Rice Unit, Steve Kaufman, Norman Blake, and Bryan Bowers and opened for John Hartford, Norman & Nancy Blake, and Leo Kottke. Rick is a popular teacher on the festival circuit and travels across the country playing solo and teaching at music festvals. He currently has five recordings; “Hammered Fiddle Tunes”, “A Reason to Dance”,  “Front Porch Waltz”, “Down the Old Dirt Road” and “Seifert & Thum Live at Mt Dora 2014″. Mel Bay Publishing Inc. has published the companion book to Hammered Fiddle Tunes. Rick is currently manufacturing hammered dulcimers (Rick Thum Dulcimers) which can be seen at a retailer near you and has, by demand, started the Song of the Month Club. Mail order lessons by audio CD.

Robin Bullock

Robin Bullock

Guitar, Mandolin

Ranked among the “100 Greatest Acoustic Guitarists” by DigitalDreamDoor.com, Robin Bullock has been hailed as “one of the best folk instrumentalists in the business” by Sing Out! magazine, “breathtaking” by Guitar Player magazine, and a “Celtic guitar god” by Baltimore City Paper. His honors include Editor’s Pick and Player’s Choice Awards from Acoustic Guitar magazine, the Association for Independent Music’s prestigious INDIE Award (with the world-music trio Helicon), multiple Washington Area Music Association WAMMIE Awards, a Governor’s Award from the Maryland State Arts Council, and the Swannanoa Gathering’s Master Music Maker Award.


Robin performs solo, with guitarist Steve Baughman, and with four-time National Scottish Harp Champion Sue Richards; he’s also played several hundred concerts as a sideman with Grammy Award-winning folk legend Tom Paxton, including four “Together At Last” tours with Tom’s fellow Grammy winner Janis Ian.


An experienced and articulate instructor, Robin has taught workshops all over North America and is a regular faculty member at music camps such as the Swannanoa Gathering, Steve Kaufman's Acoustic Kamps, Common Ground on the Hill, the Augusta Heritage Festival and the March Mandolin Festival.


Now a resident of Black Mountain, Robin hosts the monthly Carolina Celtic concert series at White Horse Black Mountain and teaches guitar, mandolin and cittern from his home studio via Zoom and Skype. This year Robin celebrates three decades as a solo recording artist with the compilation CD Wolf Tracks: A Retrospective 1993-2022.

Shawn McCurdy

Shawn McCurdy

Mountain Dulcimer

Shawn first picked up a dulcimer about 12 years ago when she lived in Florida. After searching for a less mainstream instrument to replace the piano she studied as a music major in college but no longer had, Shawn found a dulcimer group in central Florida and was captivated by the dulcimer’s sweet sound and portability. She became an enthusiastic member and ultimately music director for the club. After relocating to northeast GA about 9 years ago, she joined up with two local groups and enjoys their outings at local events and venues. She has taught several workshops for dulcimer groups across the country, and teaches private lessons to local students. Shawn has published two books of mountain dulcimer tab.


Shawn enjoys creating arrangements for the mountain dulcimer from a variety of musical styles, including Celtic, classical, jazz, rock, pop, and anything else that strikes her musical fancy. She appreciates the slower side of the dulcimer repertoire, and loves anything in a minor key.

Stephen Seifert

Stephen Seifert

Mountain Dulcimer

Stephen Seifert’s teaching and playing has made him a favorite with dulcimer players all over the country since 1991. In that time, he’s been a featured performer at hundreds of dulcimer festivals and other music events including Kentucky Music Week in Bardstown, KY, Dulcimerville in Black Mountain, NC, the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, WV, the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC, the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, AR, Stringalong near Milwaukee, WI, the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, KS and The tono American Music Festival, in Tono, Japan.


Stephen has been a dulcimer soloist with the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, now known as Orchestra Nashville, since 1996 and is featured on their Warner Classical recording of Connie Ellisor and David Schnaufer’s Blackberry Winter, a concerto for mountain dulcimer and string orchestra. The piece continues to be in regular rotation on many classical stations around the U.S. (The recording album is titled “Conversations in Silence” and can be sampled and purchased on iTunes.) Stephen most recently performed this piece with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, and the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra.


Stephen was Adjunct Instructor of Mountain Dulcimer with David Schnaufer at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music from 1997 to 2001. He also taught, performed, and recorded with Mr. Schnaufer as a duo throughout the country. Stephen has authored ten books, four CDs, and 16 instructional videos. Most recently, he has been teaching hundreds of students around the world via http://dulcimerschool.com.

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