Featured Faculty / Performers
Aubrey Atwater &
Aubrey and Elwood met as volunteers at the Stone Soup Coffeehouse in Providence in early 1987. Within just a few months
these self-taught musicians from Rhode Island formed a duo. Married since 1989,
Aubrey and Elwood perform throughout the United States and, on occasion,
abroad. Their ten recordings receive international airplay. Highlights include
airplay on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," Fiona
Ritchie's "Thistle and Shamrock," and the nationally syndicated
"Midnight Special" out of Chicago.
Donnelly have performed and researched
traditional folk music and dance in Appalachia, the Ozarks, New England, and
other key places in the United States, as well as Ireland, England and Prince
Edward Island. They have performed with or shared festival billing with folk
legends Jean Ritchie, Pete Seeger, and Doc Watson.
Aubrey and Elwood lead workshops, study with traditional musicians and
folklorists, play for and call contra-dances, appear on television, and
regularly receive standing ovations for their concerts during trips to
festivals and camps such as the Hindman Settlement School in Eastern Kentucky,
the Augusta Heritage Center in West Virginia, the Old Songs Festival in New
York, the Ozark Folk Center in Arkansas, and the Swannanoa Gathering and the
John C. Campbell Folk School in western North Carolina.
In 2005, Aubrey and Elwood appeared in six performances of a play called
"Folktown: The Story of the Fifth Mary," which was written and
produced by playwright Bob Hollis and based on twenty-two songs in the
Atwater-Donnelly repertoire. This exciting community project involved
approximately one hundred people and took place in their then hometown of
Aubrey and Elwood joined
forces with 2nd Story Theatre in Warren, RI to present nineteen performances of
a play, “Story Theater” by Paul Sills, based on Grimm's Fairy Tales and Aesop's
Atwater-Donnelly have won Motif Magazine's Music Awards in the following
categories: "Best Local Folk Act" 2006; three awards in 2007: "Best
Folk Act" for the Atwater-Donnelly Band, "Album of the Year" for
"The Halfway Ground,” and "Best Female Vocalist" for Aubrey
Atwater, which Aubrey won again in 2009; “Best Folk Act” 2010; “Folk Act of the
Year” 2011; “Americana Album of the Year” for “Each Other's Story” 2012; “Best
Folk Act” 2014; “Best Americana World Music Act” 2015; Elwood won “Best
Americana Male Vocalist” 2015; and in 2016, Atwater-Donnelly won “Best Folk
Act” and Aubrey won “Best Americana Female Vocalist.”
In addition to thirteen recordings, Aubrey has written three books of
poetry and a songbook and Elwood has written a songbook of The Carter Family,
for mountain dulcimer, a book of recipes and musings, and has created a
songbook for "The Halfway Ground" and for "The Weaver's
Bonny." The duo is part of more than fifteen compilation CDs and has
appeared on numerous recordings of other musicians.
Ranked as the most
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
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. He placed first at the
1994 Southwest Regional Dulcimer Contest and third in the 1995 National Championship
at Winfield, Kansas. 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 festivals. 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.
Jon Weinberg: Master Class
performer, teacher, and
recording artist Jon Weinberg has been playing hammered dulcimer and guitar for
contra dances, concerts, wedding ceremonies, religious services, and coffee
houses throughout New England for over 20 years. He has performed on the
hammered dulcimer at the New England Conservatory of Music and Boston Symphony
Hall as a featured accompanist with the New England Conservatory Children's
Choir. He is the featured speaker and musician on the hammered dulcimer at
musical instrument gallery of Boston Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
An accomplished dance
musician, Jon has been
a member of several contra dance bands in eastern Massachusetts and currently
plays in the band Wild Card. Jon founded and ran the Northboro, MA contra dance
for 14 years and for several years was the musical director for the Country
Dance Society's monthly open band in Cambridge, MA. He is a frequent performer
at the New England Folk Festival.
Jon teaches private
lessons to area students, and online via Skype to students across the country.
He is a frequent performer and workshop leader at dulcimer festivals across the
country and has helped organize several Massachusetts dulcimer festivals
including the Cambridge Center for Adult Education Spring Dulcimer Festival and
the Baypath Dulcimer Festival. Jon created and leads annual week-long Hammered
Dulcimer Chord Camp workshops in New England and North Carolina each spring and
In 2013 Jon released
his first CD
"About Time" which showcases a mix of traditional and contemporary
acoustic music played on the hammered dulcimer. This CD, plus information about
Jon's performances, workshops, and the hammered dulcimer is available on his
Carol Walker: Master Class Faculty
Carol’s formal training
includes a degree in
Music Education, with majors in piano, harp, and voice. For 32 years Carol was
a high school choral
teacher with an active and successful program.
In 2003 she was honored to receive the NJ Governor’s Teacher of the Year
Award, and in 2008 retired after deciding it was time to let someone else have
all the fun!
She branched out from her
training after purchasing her first mountain dulcimer in 1999, and a folk harp
in 2001. It wasn’t long before she found
a way to combine her love of teaching with her new direction in folk music, and
has been a popular workshop leader at festivals across the United States.
In 2014 she ventured for
the first time to
the famous Winfield Dulcimer Championship where her performance placed her as
one of the Top Five Finalists.
Carol has made two trips
to the Isle of Man
where she has done extensive research into traditional Manx music, producing
two books of arrangements for mountain dulcimer (Tailless Tunes and Tailless
Tunes 2) and a CD (Alas! The Horse is Gone), all exclusively devoted to this
delightful Celtic-flavored music.
Carol has also written
instructional dulcimer books (DNA* Dulcimer Ditties), each with accompanying
CDs. She recently released her first instructional DVD (Exploring the Beauty of
the Appalachian Dulcimer), produced by Happy Traum of Homespun Tapes.
Since 2002 Carol has been
performing with Wayfarers & Company, a
Pennsylvania-based eclectic, old-time gospel folk group for which she adds
vocals and also plays dulcimer, upright bass, piano, melodica, and harp. She
is also a member of the PDC and
coordinates registration for their Winter Dulcimer Festival.
Carol is married to world-class
guitarist, Toby Walker, and occasionally joins him on stage as vocalist or
bassist during his tours around the US and Canada, UK, Europe, and Cyprus.
Mountain Dulcimer Faculty
Bob sings and plays
hammered dulcimer, claw-hammer banjo, guitar and autoharp. His sharp wit and
true-life stories are always audience pleasers. Along with Norm Williams, he
founded the Pocono Dulcimer Club and teaches at local Festivals. He has
released three previous recordings with the popular Christian folk-band, Pure
Water Supply. He currently leads and
performs with the band, Wayfarers and Company that includes Carol Walker and
Bonnie has lived
all her life in Ocean
County, New Jersey. As a
singer/songwriter, Bonnie’s music reflects her thoughts of home, family, love,
life and nature. She plays the guitar,
mountain dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, autoharp, harp and banjo and has created
a wide variety of musical programs for children to adults. Bonnie performs and
teaches at various venues
along the east coast as well as teaches at a variety of dulcimer festivals
since 1991. Bonnie has 4 recordings of her original songs along with
some traditional songs and songbooks to go along with each recording. As
a Certified Music Practitioner, certified
through the ‘Music for Healing and Transition Program’, Bonnie has taken her dulcimer and
harp music to patient’s bedsides in hospitals, nursing homes and at home as a
form of physical and mental healing and relaxation. Bonnie is a mentor for new
Music Practitioners and has published a booklet for new students about music
Dave has a Bachelor’s
Degree in Music
Education with a concentration in low brass, from Nyack College, and a Master’s
Degree in Music Education with a concentration in 5-string banjo, from
Shenandoah Conservatory. During his tenure at Brookfield Central School,
his thesis/research-teaching project was on the use of the Appalachian dulcimer
in the general music classroom and it’s use as an inter-disciplinary tool
involving each academic subject, and also included the technology classes. More
advanced performance classes were available for older students. Dave has
been teaching music since 1988 and is currently in Herkimer, NY. He also holds
the positions of tuba player
with Rags to Riches - a Dixieland band, and tuba player with the Mohawk Valley
Chamber Brass Sextet – a brass ensemble comprised of current and retired band
directors in the Utica/ Mohawk Valley area.
Dave has been building and playing Appalachian dulcimers and
5-string banjos for nearly 20 years. Dave also builds mandolins on
a special-order-only basis. His instruments are made from his own locally
grown wood, most of which he has hand- selected right from standing timber.
The wood is always high quality and, and each instrument allows the wood
to “show off” it’s best features. Fox’s instruments are built with the
goal of preserving the instrument’s heritage yet having a slightly more
streamlined, modern appeal.
Ellen has been playing dulcimer for sixteen years. She began writing her
own music in 2004 and has performed at numerous open mics and festivals.
Ellen’s style of playing is a mix of traditional and contemporary. She enjoys
the hard, fast strumming of old time music and jam tunes with both the dulcimer
and banjo but also enjoys the quieter, more contemporary chord style with
fingerpicking on dulcimer. Ellen plays with the Northeast
in Connecticut. She co-coordinates Vermont’s August Dulcimer Daze
festival with George Haggerty.
“I build musical
instruments and give workshops, intensives and run programs to awaken abilities
in you that the modern world overlooks. These abilities were present when you
were born and have not been nurtured. My
workshops, residencies and intensives are designed to empower you to explore,
build skills and develop your talents in the crafts offered. My experience of
falling thru the “cracks” in school gifted me with my lifelong commitment to
make sure that everyone I work with succeeds. You'll find many ways to
integrate your new skills into the fabric of your life.” Website: http://jeremyseeger.com
Jonah is a social
worker who works with at
risk youth for the Carbon-Monroe-Pike (C-M-P) Drug& Alcohol Commission.
A mountain dulcimer player, he joined the PDC in 1998 and has been a
member of the Dulcimer Fest committee since 2004. Jonah demonstrates great skill,
humor in helping newer players to learn this wonderful instrument. He lives in
Hamilton Square, PA with his wife and son.
Ken first heard
the mountain dulcimer in the early 1960s. He built his first dulcimer in 1974.
Since then Ken’s interest in the history of this instrument has grown. He
reproduced a Pennsylvania German zither and an early dulcimer manufactured by
Charles N. Prichard of Huntington, WV. He wrote several profiles of dulcimer
builders for Dulcimer Player News. Ken was interviewed for a Hearts of the
Dulcimer Podcast where he talked about the scheitholt (Pennsylvania German
Currently Ken plays with Shade Mountain Strings in McClure, PA and resides in
Kim Jennings is an
art teacher at Voorhees
HS in Glen Gardner, NJ. She discovered the mountain dulcimer in 1987 and become
a more avid player after becoming a member of the Pocono Dulcimer Club in 1997.
She especially loves playing her Folk Notes Banj-Mo and enjoys helping new
dulcimer players become comfortable with their dulcimer. She lives in
Bangor, PA with her husband and
has been playing the mountain dulcimer for nearly 20 years, and performs
as a duo with her partner and guitar player, David Goldman. She leads the
CNY Mountain Dulcimer League, a bimonthly workshop in Syracuse, NY, and earned
a certificate from Western Carolina University for Teaching Mountain Dulcimer
in 2015. She has two CDs and accompanying tab books featuring American,
Celtic and Québécois fiddle tunes on mountain dulcimer and acoustic guitar.
Nick currently lives
in Skippack Village
located near Philadelphia. He began playing mountain dulcimer in 1985 after
being introduced to the instrument by one of his high school students. Nick
currently is active in two dulcimer clubs in his area, the Indian Valley Dulcimer Society
and the Quakertown Area Dulcimer & Autoharp Society (QUADAS). He enjoys giving lessons to beginner and
novice club members. He has also hosted numerous annual dulcimer workshops with
the Indian Valley group. In addition to playing in the standard DAD tuning, he
enjoys playing in turnings such as FAC, DF#A, EAA, and others. Nick also has a
passion for playing both fiddle tunes and the "Blues" on the
dulcimer. He is a member of a recently formed music group called Morningstar.
In addition to the mountain
dulcimer, Nick plays the bowed psaltery, the BanJammer, and the mandolin.
co-founder of The Pocono Dulcimer Club, a coordinator of their Winter
DulcimerFest held every January in Stroudsburg, PA and co-founder of the Maiden
Creek Old Time Music Festival. Norm
began teaching out of necessity in 2002 and has been faculty at festivals
throughout the Northeast (including MDMA,
August Dulcimer Days, Music by the Bay, Cranberry Dulcimer Gathering, Maiden
Creek Old Time Festival, and Augusta Heritage Center, WV). In
addition to dulcimer he plays guitar, and banjo. Norm
is a lover of Old Time music and plays with the bands Wayfarers & Company ,
The Druckenmillers (an Old Time family band), and most recently in the Dulcimer
Boys w/ Cliff Cole & Rob Yoder.
Norm lives with his wife, Erin, in Breinigsville, PA.
Nina is the 2008 National
Mountain Dulcimer Champion. She comes to the mountain dulcimer from a
diverse musical background, including choral music, violin, viola, piano, and
shape note singing. She plays regularly at churches, historic sites, and
community events and has taught workshops at dulcimer festivals throughout the
country, including Western Carolina University, John C. Campbell Folk School,
and Kentucky Music Week. Nina is especially fond of the “softer side of
dulcimer”. She has produced four books of solo arrangements for mountain
dulcimer and has co-authored four books of duet arrangements (the Tunes for Two or
More series, including
the new Tunes for Two or More Christmas
Edition with Beth Lassi.) She has a strong interest in American folk hymns,
many of which appear in her tablature book Glories Immortal:
A Collection of Hymns from America’s Past
and in a new book of Shaker music (co-authored with Bill Collins), The Humble
Heart. Here other musical
love is early music, featured in her latest tablature book, Heart’s Ease. Nina is featured on Masters of the Mountain
Dulcimer Play Music for Christmas (CD) and
has also recorded a CD of solos and duets with Bill Collins, as well as a solo
CD, Beside Still Waters.
Hammered Dulcimer Faculty
Cliff Cole fell in love with the
hammered dulcimer at the Philadelphia Folk Festival three decades ago, and he’s
been hammering on ever since. He started off as a drummer playing rock, jazz,
and blues, and then carried that musical experience and sense of rhythm over to
the hammered dulcimer and folk music. Rounding out his musical expression,
Cliff studies acoustic guitar, plays the blues harp, and enjoys singing.
For many years, Cliff has
presented workshops at dulcimer and folk music festivals, including The
Cranberry Dulcimer Gathering, Nutmeg Dulcimer Festival, The Pocono Winter Fest
and the French Creek Retreat.
Cliff's first regular dulcimer
gig was playing Bluegrass with Steel City Strings in the late '80s. He then
founded the folk ensemble DayBreak in 1989, and they are still performing
together today. The group has delved into many musical styles including Celtic,
Old Time, Bluegrass, American folk, early music and their own original tunes,
many of which Cliff created and arranged.
Over the years, Cliff produced
six recordings with DayBreak, including Lost Cave, which was recorded live
inside Lost River Caverns in Hellertown, PA., and two recordings with his
daughter, accomplished vocalist and poet, Emily Rose Cole. Cliff can often be found
in the recording studio working on some new, secret project.
Cliff is very involved in the
folk scene; he is a founding member of QUADAS (Quakertown area dulcimer and
autoharp society), and is on the Nutmeg
Dulcimer Festival Committee. Cliff also serves on the board of Perkasie Patchwork Coffeehouse.
Cliff and his wife Pamela live
out in the woods not far from Quakertown, Pennsylvania.
people, George first heard John
McCutcheon play the hammered dulcimer, never knowing what the instrument looked
like. One score and five years later,
George has owned a number of dulcimers and continues to learn the
instrument. Retirement from teaching
high school chemistry has allowed George to attend PDC for the last seven years
and he started and has been leading a small and still growing dulcimer club in
Rockaway, NJ – the Rockaway Hammered Dulcimer Club. He has an interest in
Celtic music and enjoys playing the Bohdan at a local session.
Paul is the lead
musician and song writer,
producer, and audio engineer for the successful percussive driven group from
New York City, Mecca Bodega. He’s led the group through amazing live
performances at venues such as Lincoln Center, Woodstock, Celebrate Brooklyn
Festival, Merkin Concert Hall, and tours of the US and Australia as well as the
completion of eight internationally acclaimed CD recordings. Whether it’s
the soundtrack for HBO’s Subway Stories, compositions for directors Jonathan
Demme and Spike Lee, or PBS documentary scores, Paul’s truly original songs and
unique playing style have been heard around the world. As a studio
musician, he’s featured on over 40 CDs/DVDs including sessions with Public
Enemy, Stephen Stills, Branford Marsalis, Bill Laswell and Mike Doughty.
Paul’s new solo CD release is “Floating On Land” and has been heard nationwide
on over 120 National Public Radio Stations.
Rich has been teaching
since 1985, and beginning hammered dulcimer since 1992.
He and his wife Mary
Carty were 2 of the founding members of the Greater Pinelands Dulcimer Society
in 1979. They also started the dulcimer band "Sunday Circle" in the
1980's, and their store Pinelands Folk
Music Center in 1992.
Russ started playing stringed instruments
with his first ukulele in 5th grade purchased with S+H Green stamps in Dover,
NJ. After a brief stint in heavy metal bands in high school
he discovered bluegrass which led to a life-long love of acoustic
music. At his first night at Moravian College, he met John Gorka where
they were both playing at an open mic. They soon formed a band with Doug
Anderson and were joined the following year by Rich Shindell on lead guitar.
Russ was the mandolin player, John played incredible 5 string banjo and Doug
Andersen provided the solid rock rhythm on his custom made Froggy Bottom
guitars. Tim Germer later joined as bass player. Throughout all four years of
college, they played around the Lehigh Valley centering around Godfrey Daniel's
and the Southside of Bethlehem, PA.
college, Russ went to medical school, Doug received a Ph.D. and needless to
say, John and Rich went on to well-deserved fame and glory in the folk music
During his medical
training, Russ continued to pursue his passion of acoustic music and picked up
hammer and mountain dulcimer, fiddle, dobro, autoharp and bouzouki.
He also started building his own hammer dulcimers and uses his
own instruments on stage.
continuing to practice general internal medicine, Russ played every chance
he could at local bookstores, churches, open mics and music festivals. On
several of John's return trips to the Lehigh Valley, Russ has joined him on
2002, Russ left his solo practice of internal medicine and geriatrics and
now works as a medical director at a Lehigh Valley nursing home. This has
allowed him to pursue his life-long dream and passion of performing original
and traditional music. He counts Bob Dylan, John McCutcheon and Walt
Michaels as major influences in his style. His live performances are a
mix of folk, Celtic and blues-inspired tunes with multiple instrument changes
interspersed with his off-beat humor and wry observations about life that
keep the audiences coming back for more. (As well as for free
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