Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

April 6, 2013

Dulcimer festival is under way

Shannon Miller
The Independent

ARGILLITE — Dulcimer lovers from near and far could be found in the Jesse Stuart Lodge at Greenbo Lake State Resort Park Friday afternoon for the third annual Dulcimer Festival.

The crowd nodded their heads and tapped their toes along to the music as three members of the Rail City Dulcimer Society played a hammer dulcimer, a guitar and a washtub bass around 3 p.m.

“The mountain dulcimer is so versatile. It blends in with a lot of instruments — the guitar, flute,” said Steve Justice, founder of the Rail City Dulcimer Society and festival organizer.

Dulcimer enthusiasts from nearby were joined by many from other states, from Ohio and West Virginia to as far away as Indianapolis, to listen to and learn about the instrument.

“We even had a lady from England. She plays the dulcimer and was here visiting family in Portsmouth,” Justice said.

The festival has grown by leaps and bounds since its beginning.

“We’re hoping to have over 1,000 this year. There were about 500 last year. It was shorter then, too. We’ve added Thursday evening and all day Friday. Last year we just started Friday evening and had it all day Saturday,” he said.

The goal of the festival is not just to promote the Appalachian instrument, but to promote Kentucky heritage as well.

“We’re promoting the (Kentucky) state instrument, the mountain dulcimer. And there are different kinds, like the hammer dulcimer. ... It is derived from Scottish and Irish instruments,” Justice said.

Along with jam sessions and performances by several dulcimer groups, workshops will also teach enthusiasts to play the hammer dulcimer, autoharp and mountain dulcimer.

Toni Sager of Waverly, Ohio, a member of the Big Scioty Dulcimer Club, said she is enjoying her time at the festival and looks forward to teaching an autoharp class today.

“I think it (the festival) is great. It’s free and a fun place to come and play good music,” Sager said.

Keith Evans and his wife, Midi, of Wurtland, said the festival is a source of “good, clean fun.”

“We’re having a ball. There’s no fighting or drinking. ... But we still party all night,” Keith Evans said. “It’s just the old-time ways, keeping the memories alive.”

The festival will continue today, beginning with a performance by the Morehead Mountain Dulcimer Society at 11 a.m. and wrapping up with the Ashton Ramblers with Dan Mahoney at 7 p.m.

For more information, call the park at (800) 325-0083 or visit parks.ky.gov.

SHANNON MILLER can be reached at smiller@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2642.