Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

December 5, 2012

‘A Dulcimer Christmas’ Friday at Greenbo

ARGILLITE — Fans of Appalachian-born music for Christmas will enjoy a free performance by area musicians teaming up for “A Dulcimer Christmas” concert Friday evening at Greenbo Lake State Resort Park.

Steve Justice, founder of  the Rail City Dulcimer Society, said he believes the mountain dulcimer or Appalachian dulcimer has gained popularity in recent years, particularly with its designation as the state’s official musical instrument.

“A lot of us have them on our mantle or over our fireplace or on a wall, and there are some of us who try to play them,” Justice said Wednesday. “People’s eyes are open to the idea that it’s the Kentucky state instrument, but it is also foreign to many.”

Justice, who often plays his three-string dulcimer for people at Community Hospice, said he approaches the traditional instrument much like a harp, and strives to bring out the dulcimer’s sensitivity and elegance. Others play the same instrument to get sounds which ring true from mountain ridges and rock stages alike, he said, noting the prominent use of a dulcimer in rock and roll songs recorded by artists ranging from the Rolling Stones to Cyndi Lauper.

“I have a student who plays Beatles songs on his,” Justice said.

The instrument’s appeal is undeniable, he said, although its allure is difficult to explain.

“It is simplicity in sound,” he said, explaining the mountain dulcimer doesn’t have the full range of notes as one would find in a guitar. “It has a way about it ... that bagpipe drone — kind of a haunting, drawing type sound.”

Friday’s performances begin at 6 p.m. with members of the Rail City Dulcimer Society; the Tri-State Dulcimer Society at 7 p.m., and Neil Koch playing hammered dulcimer at 8 p.m. Justice said praised Koch’s musicianship and said he expects the headline performance will include some storytelling along with his presentation of songs.

“This is for everyone from the babies on up,” Justice said, noting the evening’s music will also include autoharps, harmonicas and guitars. “It will be carols and good fellowship. It’s for everyone. It’s a family Christmas outing.”

For more information, call Justice at (606) 836-4184.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.

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