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Folkcraft/Folkroots Legacy Tour

June 21, 2024
Good Morning, Y'all!
This week's "In The Shop" segment is brought to you by Grace and Mark - two very nice people who visited our Woodburn, Indiana, shop back in April. After visiting here, they made a pilgrimage to the original FolkRoots shop, located in Felton, California. While there, they met both Michael Rugg, and Howard Rugg, the founders of FolkRoots Dulcimers.
Michael now spends his days operating a museum - the Bigfoot Discovery Experience, and Howard is still building instruments, under the CapriTaurus name.

Howard built his first dulcimer in 1968, and you'll see Grace and me, holding Howard's first dulcimer, in a photo farther down in this newsletter.
This dulcimer is now part of Folkcraft's "museum," along with all kinds of Folkcraft, FolkRoots, and CapriTaurus dulcimers, plus psalteries, hammered dulcimers, Irish harps, and even a few Druid Moon ukuleles. I have some of David Marks' earliest work, plus Steve Ash's earliest work, plus the very first dulcimer that Howard Rugg built. It's a neat collection, representing some of the finest dulcimer builders ever.
Here's a link detailing (in very broad strokes) the history/timeline of Folkcraft Instruments and FolkRoots Dulcimers.

So, starting in the next paragraph, I'm sharing an email from Grace (with permission), with details of their visit to the Felton, California shop. Enjoy!
Hello Richard!

This is Grace M., the customer who visited with you in late April, and ordered a dulcimer. We trust all is going well and that my dulcimer is coming together nicely! 

I am writing a long overdue letter to let you know that in early May, Mark and I visited the Bigfoot Discovery Museum in the Santa Cruz mountains. We are aware of the connection between your dulcimers and the CapriTaurus dulcimers that originated at this location near Felton, California. We were hoping to meet one of the Rugg brothers that runs the museum, and we did!  First, Michael Rugg.

(r. to l.) Grace, with Michael Rugg.

We had an enjoyable time looking around his unusual museum!!!  And then he said, “You know, my brother is still building instruments in the back building. Just knock on the door - loud!”  So we went to the building (with the mural) behind the museum.

Michael Ruggs Bigfoot Museum in Felton, CaliforniaMichael's Bigfoot Museum (front/right) with Howard's workshop (rear/left).

We knocked loud and waited, and were so happy to meet Howard Rugg. He showed us his instruments and gave us a tour of his upstairs workshop (up the most treacherous, skinny, sawdust-slippery stairs you can imagine). We were able to see lovely examples of his dulcimer work. He told us how, sometime in the 1960s, a couple of “hippies” were playing an unusual instrument right outside his antique furniture store. Being a woodworker himself, he thought he could try his hand at making that instrument.  And the rest, as they say, is history…

Howard Rugg, in his Felton, California workshop.

He has the CapriTaurus logo on the instruments he makes now.

Part of Howard's dulcimer collection. You can see the CapriTaurus logo on the head of the instrument on the right. 

The Felton, California workshop.

We had such a nice visit, and I told him how I had recently been to your Folkcraft workshop and ordered a dulcimer from you. He was very interested in that, of course. But, he really lit up when I showed him a photo Mark took of you and me in your showroom with a very old Folkroots dulcimer:

Grace and Richard, holding Howard's very first dulcimer. This instrument predates use of the CapriTaurus and FolkRoots names.

Howard laughed as he remembered how he had put the scroll head on that one backwards! He told me the reason he tried it that way, but I didn't catch what he said… I told him how the history of his dulcimer making was recorded on your Folkcraft website, and he was so pleased!  I guess it is nice to be remembered for something that you really enjoy doing!  So, here is a final photo of Howard and me outside his little shop in the beautiful Santa Cruz mountains.

Grace and Howard, with a more contemporary dulcimer, outside the CapriTaurus shop in Felton.

Hope you enjoy this bit of California dulcimer news. I am so happy that the tradition of handmade instrument building is being carried on by you and others. What a beautiful thing!

Hope all is well!
Grace (and Mark) M.
This Week's Baker's Dozen Book
And one more bit of administrative work before I call this newsletter "done" - this week's "Richard bought too many copies and is letting them go for less than it costs to print more" books. Dulci-Merry Christmas 2, which is book 7 in the Baker's Dozen series. $3.99 now, regular price $12.00.  And I'll leave World Music (book 6) on sale until next Monday, also still at $3.99.
Thanks for reading, Y'all, and thank you to Grace and Mark for sharing the story of their Felton trip. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Richard Ash, luthier-who-appreciates-the-legacy-of-great-luthiers