homepage logo

Celebration of Strings: A hammered dulcimer showcase concert

By Staff | Mar 4, 2016

The hammered dulcimer is alive and well in Shepherdstown; not only does the area boast two of the instrument’s most respected builders and designers, but also is home to the Upper Potomac Music Weekends, where hammered dulcimer players, fiddlers and other musicians share tunes and techniques and explore a range of musical styles over three days of workshops, concerts and jam sessions on Shepherd University’s campus and the surrounding historic buildings several times each year.

Each year one weekend features hammered dulcimer, and for over 25 years, the showcase concert has featured the best to be found on this instrument, and this year’s Celebration of Strings is no exception, with dulcimer showcase featuring four fine players, Anne Lough, and Ruth Smith, two fine players from North Carolina who play lovely arrangements of Celtic and Appalachian music, Bob Shank, from Morgantown, who brings an eclectic edge to his playing of Old time music and special guest, Marina Albero, from Barcelona, Spain, whose dynamic playing of flamenco and classical music is breathtaking. An additional set featuring West Virginia old-time fiddle champion Erynn Marshall, accompanied by her husband, guitarist and banjo player, Carl Jones.

Anne Lough is a nationally known traditional musician who performs and teaches at schools, workshops, and festivals throughout the country. Dedicated to the preservation of traditional music, dance, stories and folklore, she now devotes her time to festivals, Road Scholar classes, workshops, performances and school residencies. She is well known in the dulcimer world for her artistic and sensitive style of playing, as well as her skill as an instructor. In addition to many recordings, Anne has published over 10 books of dulcimer arrangements, including “Old-time Hymns & Gospel Favorites for Mountain Dulcimer,” through Mel Bay.

Ruth Smith is known for bringing the softer side of the hammered dulcimer to life, Ruth’s expressive touch on the hammered dulcimer has been called “absolutely magical, with exquisite phrasing.” Her teaching style is encouraging and undemanding, and she believes everyone can have fun and be enriched by playing music. With two popular repertoire books written, Smith compositions and arrangements have been featured BS TV series “Song of the Mountains,” at the Walnut Valley Festival, at MerleFest, as well as on Sirius/XM Radio and Dulcimer Players News. Together with her husband, Steve, they have produced 6 CDs and are popular performers and instructors, garnering numerous awards.

Bob Shank is a multi-instrumentalist who is known for ambitious exploration of musical genres on hammered dulcimer, banjo, and guitar. He has performed several times on NPR’s Mountain Stage and was an invited guest at West Virginia University’s annual World Music Concert. He has been a Master Artist at the Augusta Heritage Center’s Spring Dulcimer Week, the Upper Potomac Dulcimer Festival and West Virginia’s traditional music camp, Allegheny Echoes. Shank won first place old-time banjo at West Virginia’s celebration of traditional arts, the Vandalia Gathering

Marina Albero was born in Barcelona, Spain in 1979 to a musical family who performed all over the world. Her music training began early in both traditional and classical music, mostly on piano and vibes, studying both performance and composition. She has built a rich and diverse career playing and composing with groups including L’Arpeggiata, Ars Longa, Glen Velez and many others. A self taught dulcimer player, she has developed a rich passion for the instrument, and has explored many world traditions.

Erynn Marshall and Carl Jones are old-time musicians and inspired tunesmiths from Galax, Virginia. They are married – in life and music. Southern song-duets and powerful fiddle, guitar, mandolin, banjo tunes comprise their diverse sets. Erynn spent many years learning from older fiddlers and singers in West Virginia. Her book, Music In The Air Somewhere, is published by the WVU Press. Georgia born – Carl is a songwriter, multi-instumentalist and popular teacher at Augusta and other camps across the country. His song Last Time on the Road was featured on the grammy-award winning album “Unleashed” by the Nashville Bluegrass Band. Marshall won first place fiddle at the Appalachian Stringband Festival in Clifftop, West Virginia and Carl won a guitar when he placed third in the fingerpick-guitar category at Winfield, Kansas. They love recording and have a brand new CD together called Sweet Memories… Never Leave.

The concert takes place at the Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church on the corner of King and Washington streets. Admission is $20 adults, $18 seniors, $15 SMD members and $10 students. For more information call Joanie Blanton at (304) 263-2531, email updf@earthlink.net, or see the web at www.smad.us.