Mountain Dulcimer Players to appear at Blue Ridge Parkway Picnic

newspaper-headerThe Blue Ridge Mountain Dulcimer Players will offer demonstrations, styles of playing and hands on participation with the mountain dulcimer on Aug. 20 at the Humpback Rocks Farm, Milepost 5.8 of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Also on Aug. 20, at noon at the Humpback Rocks Picnic Area, milepost 8.5, “Dulcimer Dinah” Ansley will preview dulcimer playing styles. This Picnic with Friends celebration is sponsored by the Humpback Rocks Chapter of the Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway as a part of the celebrations for the 100th year of the National Park Service. Events are free and open to the public.

The Blue Ridge Mountain Dulcimer Players  Club, which evolved out of a   2011 Music in the Mountains Festival held in Waynesboro and spear-headed by Dulcimer Dinah  and about a dozen of her students, now offers two monthly jams, occasional workshops, demonstrations  and performances by nationally noted folk musicians. The Appalachian dulcimer or mountain dulcimer is the only instrument indigenous to our Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains.  For more than 100 years, this simple instrument was known mainly to early settlers in isolated hollers and ridges of Appalachia.

In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, Jean Ritchie of Viper, Kentucky ( known later as the “Mother of Folk”) brought the dulcimer out to the mountains into New York City, where she taught music to children at the Henry Street Settlement. Befriended by Alan Lomax,  folklorist with the Library of Congress, Jean Ritchie quickly entered the folk scene in Greenwich Village. There she caught the attention of musicians such as Lead Belly, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie and Joan Baez.  Today the revival of this once little known instrument has players and clubs in every state of the Union and some players in  both the British Isles and areas of Europe.

Besides the dulcimer players the Picnic with Friends event, which runs from 11:00 to 4:00, will feature other old time music, Irish dancing, hikes and old-fashioned games and races. Visitors should bring their own food and a chair to listen to music.