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Monday, November 14, 2011

I Said Nothing

It took many years to set Martin Niemöller's famous quote to music.

Here Teresa Lundgren adds fiddle in this scene from my Steve Eulberg in Concert DVD.

The DVD is available here.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Small World: Another Amazing Meeting on Tour

These kinds of things actually do happen and are amazing!

After a terrific week of shows in Memphis, I arise in the wee hours of the morning, before the sun, to catch a just-after-sunrise flight to my home airport (Denver), where I'm not going home, but catching a connecting flight to Portland, Oregon.

At my destination, as I am completing my transaction at the Thrifty rental car counter counter, a voice behind me asks:  "Is that a Hammered Dulcimer on your back?"  (the backpack straps on my Colorado Case Co. case help me tote all my instruments and gear through crowds at airports and on the ground at festivals.)

Surprised and delighted at the recognition, I turn and smile:  "Why, yes it is!"

The uniformed pilot who is standing there smiles back and says the most unusual thing:  "I play hammered dulcimer, too.  Who made yours?"

"Sam Rizzetta designed it, Nick Blanton made it."

"Rick Thum made mine," she proudly exclaims.

The red-headed clerk behind the counter is a bit agape watching this exchange as I click the plastic pen to the electronic buttons on the pad.

She goes on to say she just took a seminar from Russell Cook recently.

"You were at the Memphis Dulcimer Gathering?" I query (it just happened two weeks ago.)

Astonished, she nods yes.

"I flew in from Memphis just now," I add.

Excited with her memories of the event she goes on to tell me about what she learned and a new dulcimer friend she met, and another instructor she took a class from, Ilace Mears.

"Seriously?" I ask.  "I've been staying at Ilace's house this past week."

Her jaw drops open and she grabs her phone and says, "I have to text her and tell her I met you!"

Turns out she is Pat Trusty, a Southwest Airlines pilot, based out of the Dallas.  (I LOVE Southwest Airlines!  The bags always have and continue to fly FREE!)

She takes regular lessons (when back home in Dallas) from another friend of mine, National Champion David Moran.

"I fly planes better than I play dulcimer," she quips, "but I've only been playing a year."

"Well....I'm sure glad you're good at flying the planes,"  I grinningly respond, "that's important!"

She takes my photo to send a hello from me to David and we continue chatting.

As we are delivered to our respective cars she calls out her window:  "Drive safely!  The world needs more dulcimer players!"

Well, I sure agree with that and bid her to do the same, because she is another example our quest to bring more beauty into the world, one dulcimer player at a time.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Faux Celtic Women Concert (Memphis)

Faux Celtic Women Concert 
(Photos by Lee Cagle)
Eva (Harp), Sharon (Fiddle), moi, Ilace (Hammered Dulcimer & Fiddle)

Last week's concert in Memphis at Germantown United Methodist's Church Chapel was not only a magical and fun event, it benefited the rebuilding efforts of St. James United Methodist and Peace Lutheran Churches in Joplin, Missouri, whose facilities were demolished in last spring's devastating tornado.

Instead of my description, however, I'm going to let Betty Westmoreland's review speak for itself: 

Review of The Faux Celtic Women First Annual One-Stop Faux Farewell Tour / Chapel, Germantown (TN) United Methodist Church / October 11, 2011 / by Betty Westmoreland

     It was a treat to catch the Faux Celtic Women's First Annual One-Stop Faux Farewell Tour on October 11, 2011. Donations were accepted for two churches that were destroyed in the tornado which demolished a good part of Joplin, MO. The chapel at the Germantown (TN) United Methodist Church was packed! The music was wonderful, and the audience let the musicians know it. 

The Faux Celtic Women are as follows:  Ilace Mears, Sharon Hailey, and Eva McPeters, each of whome has deep roots in Scotland and Ireland.

Eva, Sharon, Ilace
Ilace Mears explained that the difference between them and the Celtic Women of PBS and touring fame is that "the real Celtic Women sing and have swishy skirts!" 

The Faux Celtic Women delighted the audience with music on the hammered dulcimer, fiddles, and the harp. 

A Ship May Be Safe 
     The special guest for the evening was Steve Eulberg, from Ft. Collins, CO. Eulberg has participated in the Memphis Dulcimer Gathering & Folk Festival, which draws fans from far and wide to Memphis' Second Baptist Church on Walnut Grove Road. Lee Cagle is in charge of that annual late-September gathering and another similar festival in mid-winter.

Eulberg opened the evening with delightful banter and his expertise on guitar, mountain dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, and bodhran.

His program was as follows: a ship may be saferock on rockFerret Frolic (ferrets having their way with a dulcimer case), Mt. Jackson/Just a Sliver Short of FullGirl from IpanemaShe Thinks My Dulcimer's Sexy (credits to Kenny Chesney), Sí Bheag, Sí Mohr (translation for non-Gaelic speakers: "Big Mountain, Little Mountain") Lullabye of MuffeSwallowtail JigNever Alone (from stage show "Quilters," about quilting women of the 1800's), and i miss america (good message about remembering who we are and where we came from). 

The audience clapped, tapped their toes, sang along, and perhaps even shed a few tears at times during Steve Eulberg's segment of the show. 

The Faux Celtic Women performed the following songs: Rights of Man; Carrick Fergus; Miss McLeod's Reel; Ashokan Farewell

Ilace's medley of tunes: Bonaparte Crossing the Alps, O'Keefe's Slide, and The Braes of TulliemetThe Emigrant's FarewellAsh Grove; O Danny Boy; Skye Boat Song; Willafjord; Harvest Home; and their encore was the familiar tune, The Irish Washerwoman. 

The evening was sheer entertainment in a beautiful setting for a most worthy cause.  Follow Steve Eulberg...and catch the Faux Celtic Women when, and if, you can!

For More information:  Steve Eulberg: and

Memphis/West TN Dulcimer Scene: and  

To Donate to the rebuilding efforts of St. James United Methodist Church in Joplin, click here.

To Donate to the rebuilding efforts of Peace Lutheran Church in Joplin, click here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Playing for Quilters

Quilters, by Molly Newman and Barbara Dameshek, music and lyrics by Barbara Dameshek, is playing at the Bas Bleu Theatre in Fort Collins Sept 15-Oct 23rd.

The play was originally staged in Denver many years ago, had a run on Broadway which led to multiple Tony awards and is now revived as the opening show for Bas Bleu's 20th season.

"Covered Wagon" photo by Bill Cotton

This production is a marvelous piecing together of vignettes from the actual diary entries of pioneer women from the 19th century.

Under the direction of Morris Burns, the cast of 7 women all play many different roles, held together by the over-arching story of a mother and her 6 daughters, for whom quilting is a bond, a way of life, a process of weaving hope out of scraps and tattered pieces from a hard life on the  American frontier.

While not strictly a "musical" the acoustic music (in which hammered dulcimer plays a significant role!) is integral to the story and the musicians are often helping to move the storyline ahead, in addition to accompanying the sweet harmonies of the cast.
"Log House" photo by Bill Cotton

Why do I keep going on about this in a blog about a touring musician?  I'll tell you!

First, I have often heard about the wonders of this show and my friend and colleague Bonnie Carol recalls the powerful experiences she's had playing in the band for other performances.

When one plays the hammered dulcimer, one is always on the look-out for opportunities to play with choral groups and dramatic performances.  How much more delightful when the dulcimer is intended to be part of the band!

Quilters Band: Jeremy, Marta/Steve, Ben & Greg,
Photo by Bill Cotton
Secondly,  sometimes the best gigs are NOT on the road...but they are right at home!  To play the music that enables these stories to be told today is a treasured opportunity.

However, because of the variety of my schedule, when invited, I was not able to commit to all of the performances because I had previously committed to tours through the midwest and the Pacific northwest.

But one of my "graduated" students, Marta Dean, has stepped right into the opening and together we are piecing it together, filling the hammered dulcimer, guitar II and bodhran parts.

Finally, I want to issue you an invitation to come and experience the hope and fortitude of the stories of strong women who piece together a life for themselves, their men and their families despite facing very difficult situations and obstacles.

And if you're not sure you want to take my word for it, read these reviews in the Fort Collins Coloradoan and the Loveland Reporter Herald.

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.
The show runs Sept 15-Oct 23rd: 7:30 pm on Friday and Saturdays, 2:30 pm Matinee on Sundays.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

At the lakeshore in north Chicago

I LOVE Chicago.

I discovered that when I lived and worked in the Lakeview neighborhood during graduate school in 1982-1983.

Black-eyed susans in Wilmette
So whenever I'm invited to return, I am delighted to agree.

This was my second time to prepare and present workshops for DSNI (The Dulcimer Society of Northern Illinois), which was preceded by a walk along a new lakeshore nature preserve at Fort Sheridan, then private lessons, and followed by a gig at Uncommon Ground in Lakeview.

Lake Michigan Shoreline, Fort Sheridan nature preserve
Walter and Janet

Sniffing tall wildflowers

Great Horned Owl

The whole weekend was a satisfying delight.  Walter and Janet Swartz are welcoming hosts and together we enjoyed a good hike on Saturday morning.

Sunday, I gave a mini-concert and 2 (very condensed!) workshops to mountain and hammered dulcimer players on playing blues and jazz on these instruments.

Then I followed my friends, Sandy Andina and Stephen Lee Rich, and played my set for the closing crowd at the Uncommon Ground on Clark Street in LakeView (the neighborhood I used to work in!)

What a fun vibe in the middle of the audience, in front of that old exposed brick wall, playing music that the listeners kept wanting to hear more of!

I will treasure these memories for a long time.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dulcimer Adventures in Iowa

Bettendorf, Iowa is sometimes considered to be the forgotten of the Quad Cities at the Mississippi River border between Iowa and Illinois. Here is where the "Mighty MO" takes a turn and flows directly from East to West, and was the site of a very delightful set of workshops and musical exploration in early September.

Linda and Reg Shoesmith opened their home to host hammered dulcimer workshops.

On Thursday after a delicious potluck dinner, we explored playing multi-part Christmas carols.

I used tunes from Dulcimer-Friendly Worship Volumes I: the season of Advent and Vol. III: Christmas in a Mellow Mode and from a new collection just published this year, Deck the Halls: Christmas Ensembles arranged for dulcimers.

A spirited jam session rounded out the night.  (Is there a better way to round out a night?)

On Friday we focused on the skills and techniques required for playing Bluegrass on Hammered dulcimers.

An extra bonus:
I was given the opportunity to play a Homer Ledford dulcimer that Linda had recently acquired.

(I shared this experience in the blog last week.)

Thanks again to hosts Linda and Reg for sharing your love of the music!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Dulcimers at Streetmosphere 2011

This is my 2nd year to play in Beet Street's Streetmosphere Program that puts artists in the midst of the crowds throughout Old Town Fort Collins.  And wow, it has grown!

Link to Fort Collins Life-Times
Dulci-Bro, photo by Tim Van Schmidt
Beth Flowers, Beet Street's director, said the numbers match my experience:  "Our interns are doing counts of people and interactions.  Well over 100,000 people have stopped and interacted with Streetmosphere artists this summer!"

Local artist, Tim Van Schmidt, stopped by last night and snapped this photo, including it in his Fort Collins Life-Times, "more news-less paper" site.  Click my picture and it check-out.

Streetmosphere 2010, photo by Kaitlin Winter-Eulberg
Sandwich Board at each location
Tim is a gifted poet and award-winning visual artist who is drawn to music and landscapes and has posted what has caught his eye in Fort Collins.  He also writes insightful and thoughtful reviews about his experiences in musical venues.

I have one more slot this weekend--1-4 pm Sunday afternoon beside Ingredient (SW corner of Mountain and College Avenue.)  If you're in the neighborhood, come on by.  If not, take a look at the links above and the photos here and you'll get some of the flavor.

2010 Mugs' corner
2010 Austin's Corner, photo by John Drege
Galax Mountain Dulcimer, Cache Bank corner 2010 photo by Kaitlin Winter-Eulberg

Monday, August 22, 2011

DPN Archive now available online!

Dulcimer Players News (a quarterly journal for dulcimer enthusiasts) is now available in a searchable on-line archive!

I was the "coverboy" in the Summer issue of 2002, which also featured an observant and thoughtful interview, written by Fort Collins writer & poet Tim van Schmidt.

In addition, an arrangement of the early American shape-note tune, Wondrous Love in DAG tuning was included, together with a short descriptive article by Gil Waldkoenig.

Even now, almost a decade later, I remember how excited I was when then-editor, Maddie MacNeil, called to ask me to be a featured interview for this issue.  When one is involved with a labor of love, out of the limelight, in what may be thought of as a backwater (or certainly not in the middle of river of dulcimers!) one's existence might be more easily compared to a monk's hermitage.

To be noticed, introduced and recognized for this love is quite gratifying.  As I travel and teach and meet many talented musicians who play dulcimers and guitar (both the aspiring and the retiring folks!) I am excited to have the opportunity to support them by providing the notice that this article gave me.

And now it is searchable so that ANYONE can do the same for all the people named in the interviews, articles, letters-to-the-editor, and more going back to the magazine's beginning in 1975.

Thanks to Dan and Angie Landrum, Stephen Seifert and the many other hands who have labored long and hard to make this available for all of us!

And don't forget to subscribe to the magazine to keep yourself up-to-date, and keep the tradition going!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Western Carolina Mountain Dulcimer Week

Nestled in the Appalachian mountains of western North Carolina, Western Carolina University is the setting for another week-long exploration of musical growth and learning, this one focused on the mountain dulcimer.  I've been blessed to teach and perform at this festival several times in the past, but this one was a very special blend of teachers and students.

Larry & Elaine Conger, Steve, Janita Baker, Sarah Elizabeth,
Jim Miller, Marsha Harris, Dave Haas & Joe Collins

The faculty concert on Thursday night was another highlight of this year's Mountain Dulcimer Week at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina. 

Mount Jackson / Just a Sliver
After watching Dave Haas' video from a David Schnaufer 1999 concert in West Virginia the night before, I felt like I was channeling David when playing this uptempo medley in DAC tuning.
A finger-picked Girl from Ipanema was in the 2nd set, accompanied by shaker and vocals from Elaine Conger and vocal percussion from the audience.

Lil Plumer, Dan Grimm, Julie Elman
Of course my Master Class delved deeply into the music behind the performance, the tools and techniques for setting that music on the dulcimer, and the necessary preparation and polishing for performing those songs and tunes.  They graciously and openly received, supported and critiqued their own arrangements and performances (and mine, too!), developing a special bond of trust that inspired them to further growth as musicians.

 I was delighted to play with and be the guest conductor of the Dulcimer Ensemble Class with Larry and Elaine Conger.  

We shared trio arrangements of Holy Manna, Rock-A-My-Soul and the Finale of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.  

They did an excellent job of learning to play independent parts, while not necessarily seated beside people playing the same parts, playing rests, adding and remembering to play dynamically, utilizing staccato skills and had a very strong finish!  After only 3 short days of rehearsal—I am so proud of them!

My soul-tank returns home full from this one!

(Thanks to Larry Conger & Mr. Deadwyler for photos I didn't take.)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Kentucky Music Week Highlights

I was blessed once again to share musical explorations with the fun people that Nancy Barker gathers each year in Bardstown, Kentucky (home of Stephen Foster.)

I taught Blues & Jazz to hammered dulcimer players.  (photo by Ilace Mears)

I led a mixed group of mountain and hammered dulcimer players through some symphonic music in many parts (Christmas Carols, selected variations of Pachelbel's Canon in D, Southern Harmony shape-note tunes, Vivaldi's Spring from the "Four Seasons" and a brand new arrangement of Beethoven's Sonatina in G, for 4 parts:  2 mountain and 2 hammered dulcimer parts).

I also taught hymns and mixolydian tunes for hammered dulcimer, and gave a rollicking didjeridoo demonstration, complete with many people trying out their technique.  We decided that the best way to help people pronounce the name of this Australian aboriginal instrument is to ask:  "did you re-do your house or hair?"

Other highlights included several pickup bands that serenaded the folks in the lunchline.  I led a Brass Band that featured Mark Alan Wade and I on trumpet, Robert Force on trombone and Eric Jarboe on Tuba! (photo by Marsha Harris)  On another day I participated in a fun string band playing my Don Neuhauser Dulci-bro.  (photo by Nancy Seifert)

Of course, concert performances are fun and this year I played Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo" my David Myhre Electric Mountain Dulcimer.  (THAT's the chord I was looking for in FAC tuning!)

That was followed by rock on rock, dedicated to the folks rebuilding their church following the tornado (Peace Lutheran Church in Joplin, MO--where I gave a dulcimer concert some years ago.)

The audience did a fine job on construction percussion for this one, too. (photos by Marsha Harris)

Of course a week like this can't go by without recalling the jam sessions like this one that go into the wee hours of the morning, especially when you are playing and learning more old-time tunes in the key of "A" with Ken Kolodner on fiddle and Cathy Barton Para on banjo!

Finally, my ambition was realized:  to be a "Pip" for Gladys Knight!!  Okay, it was just a back-up dancer for Van Morrison's Brown-Eyed Girl, but in my memories we're on the midnight train to Georgia, singing "!.....

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pickin' Porch 2011

For 12 years Mike and Connie Clemmer have hosted a weekly concert on their Pickin' Porch, behind their Wood-N-Strings Dulcimer Shop in Townsend, Tennessee.

Located near the entrance to Smoky Mountain National Park, this is one of my favorite places to play--the background is the rushing river behind the stage, the backdrop is the rich green leaves of the trees, sometimes there is cicada accompaniment, and last night some geese honked their appreciation for the duet that Mike and I played with the instruments that he built!  What better setting for traditional music can be found?

So here is a sampling from last night's concert:  hammered dulcimer (part of the Irish set), Soaring (my PBS Roadtrip Nation hit!), a fiddle tune duet with Mike and Boil Them "Eucalyptus" Down The International Mountain Dulcimer National Anthem (a duet for Appalachian dulcimer and "Australian Dulcimer"--> didjeridoo.)

The audience is a responsive and enthusiastic gathering of locals, people camping in the area and folks just passing through.

And there is a new surprise this year--Mike has added a roof over the Pickin' Porch (at this rate, pretty soon this will be a "soft-seater" venue!)  He says, "At least if it rains, YOU and your instruments won't get wet."   (After a week of steady rains and 40-50° days that IS comforting.)

So here are my recommendations:

If you are in the neighborhood, stop on any Saturday night of the season and savor the music in its perfect environment.

If you are not in the neighborhood, ask yourself "Why Not?" and then make plans to be!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Blue Plate Special WDVX, Knoxville!

The Blue Plate Special served up a tasty menu today (a daily LIVE radio broadcast at WDVX, which is hosted in the Knoxville Visitor's Center.)
The Audience is filling the chairs.

I played here a few years ago and was delighted to have the opportunity to do so again!

There is a live studio audience as you can see from these photos: (taken from my vantage point on stage just before the show began to air.)
Daniel (Engineer) and Red Hickey
 (host) check the final details.

I was up first,
(See my set list below)
then Jerry Butler and the Blu-Jays (Bluegrass band) took the stage:

and Tony Furtado rounded out today's delectable selections.

Tony Furtado

The people who came to my workshops in Townsend heard the show and I was able to plug both and my workshop, show and jam in Chattanooga tomorrow!

And even more cool, the Visitors Center sports an umbrella collection (whether these are left behind, or offered for unprotected is still surprising and thoughtful!)  

Steve's setlist:

Simple Gifts (hammered dulcimer solo)

Barlow Knife (mountain dulcimer with noter & quill, then noter & pick)

80,000 Cage-Free Chickens (mountain dulcimer & vocal)

Fiddle Tune Set:  Flop-Eared Mule / Liberty / Soldier's Joy (hammered dulcimer solo)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Roots and Wings: Vivid Eco-Art!

I was so filled with joy to complete my Artist-in-Residency with Montrose Elementary students in Songwriting earlier this month.  (See this post for an earlier explanation...and then wait for more details to follow.)

BUT!  I was not the only artist to work with the students this year.

Michelle Stitzlein is a visual artist who designed and helped the students install a mural entitled "Roots and Wings"

Here is the detail of "Roots"

"and Wings"

The brilliance of the colors and the composition are so active and exciting--just like the songs I wrote with the 2nd Graders.

But now look more closely:  The material for this mosaic is all injection-molded bottle tops!  All in the original colors of their original fabrication.
The school has been collecting these bottle tops all year because it is estimated that they don't decompose back to their natural components for 500 years.  With Michelle's help, they have removed them from the refuse stream and assigned them a new, beautifying purpose.

AND, each child in the school was able to add at least one of the tops to the art.  And, they can remember which one they added!  "That's mine!" a student proudly says, pointing to a green one near the bottom.

"What's Your Story?" has been the school theme for the year.

This reminds me of the Felice Holman poem, "who am i" that I set to music, a line of which became the title for my 2007 recording.  (Listen and/or download here)

All of us have a piece of the puzzle and together they magnify and multiply beauty in the world!