So, I’m back. it’been a wild ride. I had a stroke two years or so ago. Nearly died, went to stay in hospitals instead of going on tour in Scotland and Wales. My little brother died while I was sick. Been a rough time. Now, this damnable virus. But, I have my workshop! My time with Jack Smoot at John C. Campbell Folk School was invaluable. I learned things that make it possible to make my dulcimers post stroke. Now my brother Gary has provided me a computer that I can use to update this space!
So I’ve got all these pics from the John C Campbell Folk School. Here’s one for you and a question. What does it take to build a dulcimer? A little skill and luck, a lot of patience and whole bunch of clamps!
Putting my 100 year old workbench to work holding a dulcimer for a fret board tweak with my 100 year old Stanley 3C plane.
An Appalachian or mountain dulcimer is a small, 3 or 4 stringed instrument usually played on a lap. It is related to the German Scheitholt in the Zither family. No records exist of the dulcimer before about 1880 and is an Appalachian invention. The frets of the dulcimer are arranged in the diatonic scale which, combined with only 3 or 4 strings, makes it among the easiest of all stringed instruments of play.
Roaring Creek is the name of both a road and a creek located in Avery County, North Carolina. The creek runs through a little valley, or hollar, which ends in the towering Yellow Mountain on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina.
Near the headwaters of Roaring Creek was a small farm of some 13 acres owned by my great-great grandfather Benjamin and my great grandfather Jerry. My grandfather, Granville, was born in one of the two cabins on the farm. My Dad also lived on Roaring Creek as a boy.
We have found the location of what we believe is great grandpa Jerry’s cabin. There are two piles of chimney stones at about 30 feet apart. There are four flat stones at each of the corners making the cabin about 22 by 30 feet.
There is also an ancient apple tree just a few feet from the cabin site. It has been blown over for many years but continues to send up shoots every spring. We have grafted some of these shoots into other apple trees, but they have yet to bear apples.
This little valley bordered by rugged hills and mountains, watered by the creek, is as close to being my ancestral home as any place could be.