2021 Instructors

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.
 

Butch Ross

Butch Ross

Mountain Dulcimer, Ukulele

Typically the dulcimer is used for playing simple tunes and accompanying the voice, most people can learn a song or two within a few minutes of first encountering the instrument. Which is probably why the one phrase you'll hear a lot at a Butch Ross concert is "I didn't know you could do THAT on a mountain dulcimer!" Ross has taken a simple folk instrument and energized it with technical wizardry, inventive arrangements and a healthy dose of rock-n-roll attitude. It's this groundbreaking and iconoclastic approach that caused ukulele-virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro to comment, "Now I know what a dulcimer is supposed to sound like."

Over the past few years Ross has become an in-demand performer at folk and dulcimer festivals through the US and Europe. He's performed at such festivals as the Central Ohio Folk Festival, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, the Lancaster (UK) Music Fest and the prestigious Philadelphia Folk Festival.

Chris Collins

Chris Collins

(All)

Chris Collins is a retired college biology instructor. While teaching in St. Louis, she was introduced to the hammered dulcimer and on February 15, 2000 at 7:30PM, she began studying under Rick Thum, a bench mark date in her life. After returning home to Florida, in 2006, she added the mountain dulcimer to her skills. and performing locally for several years, she joined her now husband as Dulcinea’s Music. In 2014, at the Dulcimer Jamboree at Mountain View, Arkansas, they won the Ensemble Competition. They continue to perform and teach at festivals throughout the eastern US.

Danny Shepherd

Danny Shepherd

Bodhran (Irish Drum), Ukulele

Danny Shepherd has been a performing musician for over 45 years. During his early years as a drummer he joined the band at school and played in local rock bands. While attending Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN he received his draft notice and enlisted in the US Army. During his 21 year career as a Military Musician he taught percussion at Armed Forces School of Music in Little Creek, VA, performed across the United States, Central/South America and the Caribbean. His final assignment was as the Enlisted Bandleader with the 79th Army Band, Ft Clayton, Panama.

 

He has presented dulcimer, ukulele, bodhran, and folk percussion workshops at the Kentucky Music Educators State Conference, Kentucky Music Week, Yellowbanks Dulcimer Festival, Gateway Dulcimer Festival, Ohio Valley Gathering, UNICOI Dulcimer Festival, Henderson Dulcimer Festival, and Red Hill Dulcimer Festival and Heartland Festival.

 

Danny has performed at the UNICOI Dulcimer Festival, Kentucky Music Week, Yellowbanks Dulcimer Festival, Gateway Dulcimer Festival, Ohio Valley Gathering, Henderson Dulcimer Festival, and Red Hill Dulcimer Festival, the Derby Day Arts Festival, and the Arts Council International Festival.

Dave Haas

Dave Haas

Mountain Dulcimer

Dave Haas lives in Charleston, WV, and loves to perform and teach others how to play the mountain dulcimer!  He has been playing the dulcimer since 1990, and loves to share the mountain dulcimer and its history with schools, churches, and civic organizations.  He has even brought dulcimer music to those in prison!  Dave is a popular dulcimer instructor, and has performed in 16 states.  Dave also plays the guitar, sings, and leads music on Christian retreat experiences such as Kairos Prison Ministry, The Walk To Emmaus, Cursillo, and Teens Encounter Christ.  Dave has released four dulcimer CDs, seven dulcimer instruction/CD workbooks, and a popular dulcimer chord chart.

 

Dave also enjoys teaching science as a Chemistry Professor at the University of Charleston.  One of his favorite activities is to sing chemistry songs (some on dulcimer) with his students!

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.

Erin Mae

Erin Mae

Dulcimer

Erin is a cancer survivor, and this ordeal has instilled a knowledge that music brings powerful healing. Her music is to be a beacon of light for those traveling through darkness. The albums Quiet Sunshine & Honest were born of this life changing event.

She has been playing mountain dulcimer since the age of 7. In 2004 she became the youngest national mountain dulcimer champion at the time. Trained in classical piano and earning a degree in commercial music; Erin toured full time for several years with the duo Scenic Roots. She has recorded several albums with the first in 1999. She has since then has recorded 8 full-length albums, and contributed to several other projects including a feature-length television program.  Though she has transitioned into private lessons and youth music curriculum development; Erin is well versed in music theory and continues to arrange pieces specifically for the Mountain Dulcimer. She offers this to her students as a way of unifying modern culture with the iconic American instrument.

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.

Judy House

Judy House

Teaching

Judy House lives in Winston-Salem NC. She is a graduate of Campbell University. She has had an extraordinary variety of opportunities as an educator over the past 40 years, teaching preschool through graduate level classes in North Carolina. Judy began her formal study of music as the age of 9 when she was introduced to the flute; piano soon followed. She has been playing and performing ever since with everything from marching bands to gospel quartets to dulcimer ensembles!

 

She received her first mountain dulcimer in 1995. A graduate of the first class for Teaching the Mountain Dulcimer from Dulcimer U at WCU, she has taught Mountain Dulcimer classes at Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem, NC since 2010, has a number of private students, and was added to the Dulcimer U staff in 2014 for the Teaching the Mountain Dulcimer core class. She has also been a presenter at dulcimer festivals in North Carolina for the past 4 years. She enjoys leading the Camel City Strummers Dulcimer Club in Winston-Salem as well as playing with The Cantabile Jubliee Dulcimer Trio.

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). 

Kirk House

Kirk House

Bass Dulcimer

Kirk House has been playing the dulcimer for 12 years; for the last six years he has specialized in the bass dulcimer. He is a Nationally Certified Dulcimer Teacher, through Western Carolina University (Dulcimer U program). Kirk plays several different styles and designs of bass dulcimer, including 3-string, 4-string, and double-bass. He performs as part of a duo with his wife Judy House, as well as a member of the trio 'Cantabile-Jubilee', and the quartet string section, 'SASSY'.

 

Other musical interests of Kirk's include mandolin, bowed dulcimer, ukulele, and shape-note singing.  Kirk is delighted to be returning for his second year as a bass dulcimer instructor at BMMF.

Laurie Alsobrook

Laurie Alsobrook

Mountain Dulcimer

After a full career in elementary education, Laurie Alsobrook has turned her attention to sharing the joy of playing the dulcimer at festivals, workshops, and retreats from Florida to the UK.  What a perfect blending of her two passions – working with learners and playing the dulcimer!

Beginning in 2020, Laurie’s online instructional credits included the QuaranTUNE Dulcimer Festival (both 3.0 and 4.0), the 2020 NGFDA Virtual Fall Festival, Nonsuch Spring Fling, and Dutchland Dulcimer Gathering in both 2020 and 2021. She was also the co-director of “Dulcimers Do Digital,” the online version of the Stephen Foster Dulcimer Retreat.

Prior to the necessity for online festivals, Laurie has anchored the beginning instructional track at the Stephen Foster Dulcimer Retreat since 2013 and taught a week-long skills session for advancing beginners at Dulcimer U along with other workshop opportunities.  At Dulcimer U, Laurie is known for her quirky evening jam sessions.


An avid jammer, Laurie hosts a weekly Friday afternoon Zoom-Jam and is a weekly song leader for another virtual jam session, Send in the Music.  Laurie is known as an enthusiastic and engaging teacher and jam leader.

Lorinda Jones

Lorinda Jones

Tin Whistle

Performing on the Celtic Harp and Mountain Dulcimer, Lorinda transports an audience to a place that may remind them of their ancestral roots, a place of peace and tranquility. Performances reflect Lorinda’s background in performing, music education, and music therapy, and are informative and engaging, whether on a concert stage, classroom, retreat, or festival event. Audiences of all ages enjoy the "Historic Charm" of Lorinda's music.

As an adjudicated member of the Kentucky Arts Council Arts on Tour Directory, Lorinda is recognized not only in the state, but also nationally. She began performing on the piano at an early age, and soon progressed to other instruments including years of classical music study on the oboe. But it is her passion for American folk music that has been a common thread in her varied pursuits for the past twenty years as a performing and recording artist, and music therapist.

Locally, Lorinda leads the Heartland Dulcimer Club, the Heartland Harp ensemble, hosts a traditional music festival, and has taught many, many students how to play both the mountain dulcimer and folk harp. Nationally, Lorinda teaches and performs at music camps and festivals all across the nation, including the prestigious John C Campbell Folk School, Augusta Heritage Week, and many more.

She is the author of numerous music books, 3 of which are published by Mel Bay Publishing Company, as well as several CD recordings, and most recently a combination audio CD and relaxation DVD, Celtic Passages.

 

As a music therapist, Lorinda reaches populations beyond the concert stage in schools, assisted living facilities and through related work with the Very Special Arts Kentucky and The Kentucky Center's, Arts-In-Healing program.

 

Lorinda performs on beautiful hand crafted instruments, with song material that ranges from the ancient repertoire of the Celtic lands, to old time music of the American Appalachians, and popular music of today.

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.

Matthew Dickerson

Matthew Dickerson

Hammered Dulcimer

For the past twelve years, Matthew has been delighting audiences with his sweet and cheerful style of playing the hammered dulcimer.

 

He developed a keen interest in the instrument in his early teens after learning a variety of other instruments, including guitar and penny whistle. Celtic music led him to discover the unique and pleasant sound of the Hammered Dulcimer.

 

His first dulcimer was one he built from scratch, and after teaching himself to play, he quickly became an accomplished artist with the talent and skill necessary to win the Mideast Regional Hammered Dulcimer Competition in 2012. Shortly after this achievement, he entered and won the National Hammered Dulcimer Championship at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas.

 

As of 2018, Matthew has chosen music as a full time venture performing and teaching across the United States as well as in the studio and online. He released his first album in the summer of 2014 and will release his second in the summer of 2018.

 

With a genuine appreciation for great music and talent in multiple genres, he continues to reach for new heights in both style and performance as he represents himself as one of the best dulcimer players in the country.

 

 Matthew resides with his wife and two sons in Aiken, South Carolina.

Richard Ash

Richard Ash

Mountain Dulcimer

Richard is the owner of Folkcraft Instruments, which is one of the oldest and most respected musical instrument manufacturers in the country. Folkcraft makes a variety of stringed and fretted instruments, including Appalachian dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, bowed psaltery, kantele, dulcilele, and ukulele.
 
Richard is a teacher, and holds a music education degree from The Ohio State University. Formerly a school band director, now he's an active dulcimer instructor.
 
Richard is also the organizer of three music festivals: The Dulcimer Gathering (for hammered dulcimer players); Indiana Dulcimer Festival (for Appalachian dulcimer players); and Midwest Uke Fest (for ukulele players).
 
And finally, Richard is a performer. You can hear him playing the dulcimer at events all over the country. From NAMM shows to dulcimer festivals, old-time music events to demonstration concerts in the Folkcraft concert hall, he's performed pretty much everywhere.

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.

Ruth Smith

Ruth Smith

Hammered Dulcimer

From the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Steve and Ruth play a heartwarming blend of acoustic Americana music featuring hammered and Appalachian mountain dulcimers, banjo and guitar. Steve and Ruth play and sing the music reminiscent of the old homeplace where family, love, faith, and sense of place are the foundations of heritage and traditions. Their charming original music warmly reflects mountain life and rural Appalachian values.


Known for her sensitive, expressive style on the hammered dulcimer, Dirty Linen Folk & World Music Magazine says, “Ruth Smith's touch on the hammered dulcimer is absolutely magical, with exquisite phrasing, highlighting the range of the instrument especially on her own pieces.” Dulcimer Players News says Ruth’s playing is “Lush and expressive . . . memorable, heart-felt.”

Tina Bergmann

Tina Bergmann

Hammered Dulcimer

Hailed by Pete Seeger as "the best hammered dulcimer player I've heard in my life," Tina Bergmann has been performing concerts, and teaching workshops and private lessons from an early age. A fourth-generation musician, Bergmann began playing music at age eight, learning the mountain dulcimer from her mother in the aural tradition and learning the hammered dulcimer at the knee of West Virginia-native builder and performer Loy Swiger. Demonstrating gifts for both performance and teaching, she has been a featured performer across the United States, performing solo; as a duo with her husband, bassist Bryan Thomas; with her stringband Hu$hmoney; and as a member of Apollo's Fire, Cleveland's world renowned Baroque Orchestra.