Marshall County, located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, is keeping alive the traditional music of this mountain region.

Sponsored by the Marshall County Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) the Melodies and Musings concert will feature some of the finest dulcimer players in the nation showing the versatility of the dulcimer by playing traditional, Celtic, ballads, Irish jigs, fiddle tunes, gospel, classical and much more.

The Sept. 27 concert is the culmination of a three-day dulcimer workshop offered by RSVP and taught by four nationally known mountain dulcimer artists.

The concert, featuring the four mountain dulcimer instructors, is offered for anyone with a love of music in all genres, and especially those who have developed an affinity for the mountain dulcimer.

The number of dulcimer players has grown in the area, thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts which paid for mountain dulcimers to be used in beginner classes taught at RSVP.

Since February 2009, 240 people have signed up for beginner dulcimer classes and experienced this Appalachian instrument.

The Appalachian dulcimer or mountain dulcimer is a fretted string instrument of the zither family, typically with three or four strings. It is the only instrument native to the Appalachian region of the United States. A traditional way to play the instrument is to lay it flat on the lap and pluck or strum the strings with one hand, while fretting with the other.

The concert will feature four mountain dulcimer musicians:

• Mark Gilston lives in Cedar Park, Texas. Growing up in a folk revival household in New York City in the 1950s, it was natural for Gilston to gravitate to traditional music. Sometime in the early ‘90s he discovered Swedish spelman music, fell in love with the traditional fiddle music of Sweden and began adapting many of these lovely tunes to mountain dulcimer

• Dana Gruber, from Milford, Ohio, has been playing the dulcimer since 1997. Her music is a blend of both modern and traditional music, along with some original compositions. Her unique arrangements explore the contemporary side of the mountain dulcimer and add a new dimension to traditional tunes.

• Erin Mae Lewis, from Wichita, Kansas, is known for his smooth style, has been playing for over 20 years and in that time has developed a unique and progressive style with her signature percussive chop and fiddle-tune flat-picking. She strives to let her music act as a beacon of light to lift the spirit and heal the soul.

• Carol Walker, from Denville, New Jersey – now retired after 32 years as a music educator – has combined her love of teaching with her desire to preserve folk music. Her distinctive fingerstyle technique brings out the expressive nature of the mountain dulcimer. She was New Jersey Teacher of the Year in 2003.

The concert starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Guntersville Senior Center. Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for ages 7-12 and free to children age 6 and under. Tickets are available at RSVP and can be purchased at the door.

This concert is made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the City of Guntersville, Marshall County Convention and Visitors Bureau and Marshall County RSVP.

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