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Friends In High Places

July 28, 2023 - Friends In High Places

Good Morning, Y'all!

So, two weeks ago, at the festival in Evart, Michigan, I ran into "dulcimer royalty."
Doug Berch.

In 1983, Doug won first place in the national championship for both mountain dulcimer and hammered dulcimer. I think he was the first person to win the championship on both instruments in one year. An amazing player, fine builder, and a really nice person.

doug berch mountain dulcimer
Doug Berch visiting the Folkcraft display at the ODPC Funfest

It was mainly because of Doug that Folkcraft became a vendor at the Evart festival. It was around 2013, and I was vending at a ukulele festival in Lansing, Michigan. Selling both dulcimers and ukuleles, my display was set up in an art gallery in downtown Lansing (yes, it was a weird vending experience!). I was there in my booth, and in walks Doug. I had met Doug before at various dulcimer events, including hiring him to teach at our dulcimer festivals here in Woodburn, so it was a nice happenstance. 

Doug sat down with me, I loaned him a dulcimer from the display, and we got to jamming. A dulcimer jam - at a uke fest! It was fun playing with a performer of his caliber. After a few minutes, Kathy Rayman walked in. Kathy was, at that time, the president of the ODPC (Original Dulcimer Players Club, the group who puts on the Evart, MI, festival). I hadn't met Kathy before, so Doug introduced us. And Kathy invited Folkcraft to be a vendor at the next Evart festival.

The Evart festival was (especially back then) largely a hammered dulcimer festival. Vending space was tight and it was tough for mountain dulcimer builders to get space. So Doug's introduction was largely responsible for Folkcraft being a vendor at the ODPC Funfest in Evart, MI. (Thanks, Doug!)

Moral of the story? It pays to have friends in high places!
And on a different note, here's a new variation on our vine heart sound hole (see the two pics below). I've come with a creative name for it: I call it "vine hummingbird." It took me hours of thought to come up with this highly-innovative name.
vine hummingbird sound holes
Vine hummingbird sound holes

vine hummingbird sound holes
Close up of hummingbirds

As I'm writing this newsletter segment (on Monday, July 24) the above-pictured dulcimer is sitting in our showroom, waiting on a player to pick it up. By the time you get this email on Friday (the 28th), it'll be long gone. But I can make you a dulcimer with this exact same sound hole, not a problem.
Thanks for reading!
Richard Ash, luthier-who-likes-all-the-dulcimer-players-both-famous-and-non-famous