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Folkcraft Player - Mike Squint

mike squint with dulcimer
In 1977 I discovered the mountain dulcimer sound while traveling through Chattanooga. That unique sound stayed with me long after I returned home. I had the dulcimer bug. I built a McSpadden Dulcimer kit and was teaching myself to play by the end of that year.

The next ten years I learned to play a few songs which I liked such as "Help Me Make It Through The Night" and of course "Boil Them Cabbage Down" without knowing anything about history or how the instrument should be played. During those years I was tuning to CGG and had very limited contact with other dulcimer players. As the decades passed I attended dulcimer festivals across the country and learned more about the history of the dulcimer and playing skills. I kept looking for better quality dulcimers.

In those early years I found I enjoyed playing for people by playing anywhere for anyone. One unusual 'anywhere' was being the pit band for a theater show one summer. By the 1990s I moved to DAA and then to DAD tuning. I enjoyed playing the traditional dulcimer songs and continued to attend festivals learning from professional players. I started getting requests to give lessons from players in my area.

As I played for groups I found the delicate sound of the dulcimer lovely, but soft sound limiting, and began to look for an acoustic amplified dulcimer with a quality pickup. At a Baton Rouge festival I found a maker who was experimenting with such an instrument. I got one and played it for twelve years. However, it was not the best acoustical dulcimer. I was still searching for that special dulcimer which could put quality sound out to the audience and not distort the traditional dulcimer sound.

When I retired I joined a weekly dulcimer group and discovered my playing style was different than others. I had developed into a mix of traditional noter and the post 1960's chord styles. It is what I call SLIDING style. I already knew I enjoyed playing many type of music on my dulcimers. People seemed to like my style and songs asking me to teach them to play that way. I started giving lessons again.

Those experiences prompted me to start a one man act as Slidin' Mike using three dulcimers, DAA, DAD, and baritone EAE playing mostly at resorts, RV parks, community centers, senior centers and special gatherings. Playing a wide variety of jobs including groups as large as 250 to smaller jobs at retail stores, assisted living and nursing homes.

As luck would have it, when looking for a better quality amplified acoustic dulcimer, I found myself in the Fort Wayne Indiana area where Richard, at Folkcraft, let me know he was developing a new model, the NT-11. I got mine in 2018 and love the sound and feel. BBboy, I name each of my show dulcimers, is named for the blues, boogie-woogie, and ballads I like to play. It sounds great on the traditional songs also. Easy to get the sound out to large and small audiences.

When COVID19 stopped all live performances I had a request to continue my teaching on YouTube. Since then I have uploaded sixty videos to the Slidin' Mike YouTube channel. Currently there are six finger drill lessons under "PICK&FRET LICKS"; ten sliding skill lessons under "SKILL&FILLS". A lesson on how I build ballad arrangements; lessons teaching how to play my earlier songs; videos of my versions of traditional and other songs. I continue to add to this project as a way of giving help to new player to repay all the help I received from dulcimer players during the decades .

Basically my style is different than most players. I enjoy creating new songs and rearranging old songs into my sliding style by mixing different rhythms, adding some jazz /blues chords, and developing different fingering techniques to get a sound which keeps my attention. Watch "Slidin'Mike" on YouTube. See what this old man has been up to.