Monthly Archives: May 2008

Mountain Dulcimer Music and the Memphis Zoo

Just got back from playing my Magowan baritone mountain dulcimer at the Memphis Zoo.  I used the micro-cube amp on my dulcimer.  It worked really well in balancing with my friends who were playing guitar and autoharp with amplification.  I had the micro-cube sitting on the porch near me, and I was able to adjust/control my dulcimer’s volume as needed, and I liked that.  

The three of us played for two hours on the covered porch of the Once Upon a Farm exhibit building. We play usually once per month for about two hours in a program called Front Porch Pastimes.  I scheduled the dates that worked for us by emailing the program’s coordinator, and she was very nice about allowing us to have the dates that worked for our schedules.  This is the third summer of the Memphis Zoo’s Front Porch Pastimes program, I believe, and I have learned a lot about playing my mountain dulcimer in public!  As people walk by or sit for a while…or just stand near the porch, I enjoy telling them about the mountain dulcimer.  Many, many folks have not seen one before, and most of the children cannot name what it is…so, I really enjoy talking about the mountain dulcimer whenever someone wants to listen.  Marti tells about the autoharp, too, another instrument invented in America.  

A birthday was being celebrated inside the building…a little red wagon loaded with lots of bright and balloony looking packages was pulled passed us and into the building, as the children’s ride train whistled by behind our rhythmic “Ridin’ on that new river train…riding’ on that new river train….”  It felt good to be a part of that cutesy scene during this beautiful day in the shade and on the porch just in front of the flower boxes which were overflowing with color and potato vines.  The Memphis Zoo is so wonderful!  I think the best face painters in the world must work there.  Maybe they were students from the Memphis College of Art, I don’t know, but there artwork is a joy to see bouncing around in front of our little bluegrassy band of three.

My guitarist friend, Pat Patchell, brought not only his lovely autoharpest, Marti, but TWO small fans to stir the breezes around our music.  That is something I highly recommend for a gig bag!!  Breeze makers are definitely needed down in the Delta during the day!

I enjoyed seeing some friends from my church hang out on the porch for a while…and my sister and my brother-in-law stopped to listen…glad to see them there!   I think they said they have now purchased a zoo family pass and will be dropping by the zoo’s porch once-a-month-or-so for a listen and a rest in one of the farm’s rocking chairs.

If you cannot tell, I have to say that I am a FAN of the Memphis Zoo….I love that it is continually alive….things happen….changes are made….everything improves more and more over the years.  There is either a new bus or there has been a new paint job to the old bus…what I saw people riding today was a luxuriously long zebra train-type bus.  It was filled with faces of fun….quite a joy to see folks enjoying themselves out-n-about. 

I’ll be back at the zoo with my banjo, my mountain dulcimer, and my musical friends on July 5, 2008.  Come on out to the porch…we’ll be looking for ya!


June 2008 Club Meeting Rescheduled

Hi Friends,

Hope you had a lovely Memorial Day celebration and time of reflection.

Don’t forget about our rescheduled club meeting date. We will not be meeting on June 1st, but the club will meet on the second Sunday in June…the 8th. The June 8th meeting will be held at Bob Magowan’s house.

The meeting was rescheduled due to the workshops being offered by Erin and Amber Rogers on June 1st at the Howard Vance Guitar Studio.

See ya soon!

Keep on strummin’!

Carla Maxwell

Thinking About My ’07 Trip To the West Coast

Today I’ve been reflecting on my dulcimer world….and the friends I have made….the places I have been…and wondering about places I might want to go….  And during my reflections and mind wanderings, I have been enjoying a review of my picture journal.  Sometimes I’m pretty snappy with my digital camera….clicking away at random but relevant sights I see throughout any journey.  And, I have been exploring a previous problem that was puzzling me….of connecting this blog to a photo gallery.  I think I have solved my problem and now want to test the solution, quality, and/or jpg resolution…
Let’s see if this works:

Hmmmm…looks like it works.  Now, you’re probably wondering…Who, What, Where, and Why?!
The pictures in this slide show are part of my collection of pics I took during my trip to San Francisco.  I enjoyed exploring the different dulcimer sounds of the West Coast, and I met really nice people along the way!  
The slide show begins with some snapshots of a meeting with the administrators of Bread & Roses, a lovely non-profit organization in San Francisco, CA.  Bread & Roses was established by Mimi Fariña in the 70’s.  
The seemingly random street pics are just scenes that I connected with as the owner of a driving school…thinking how relevant the road signs were to teaching teens to drive.  Did you know there are “coyote crossing” signs in California?  And how fast would you want to take that curve in a Camry on a cliff near Pacifica?  
The slideshow also shows some dulcimer dare devilishness…you needed to see this to believe it……..a eukele being utilized by you-know-who!
Since the slideshow seems to have worked….I’m going to try re-posting a link to a photo gallery in the sidebar.  Maybe it will work right this time.
Hope you enjoy the pics!

This is Incredible….IMHO

Hi MAMDC Members,
I just found an interesting link in my email inbox.  It came in as a dulcimer alert from the WWW.  I’m excited to share this bit of technology with you, as I have dreamed of the link’s concept for years.
I’m pasting the link at the end of this entry, but I’ll describe it a bit, in case your computer has a slow connection that makes the website difficult to load or view.
There’s a site called Seesmic which contains a video based community for discussion by topic.  It’s apparently in a testing stage still, but the video conversation that I could view was related to the mountain dulcimer…..a Homer Ledford Mountain Dulcimer owned by a doctor in Louisville, KY.  The video thread begins with the doctor explaining how her dulcimer has been repaired after a long wait since the time it was broken in an earthquake.  As shown in her video, the doctor holds the mountain dulcimer and describes it, displaying its condition from all angles via the video camera on her computer.  
After the doctor’s introduction and statements about the Ledford dulcimer, several community members posted video responses to continue the discussion.  Beside each person’s video there is a reference to the doctor’s brief profile, including city/state location, and a link to profile of the person making the video response.  The format of the website page with the video conversation looks similar to a forum like ED.  The difference is that there are fewer written words and no avatars but rather a compilation of reverse-chronologically-ordered, individual, small, video screens with play buttons (similar to Youtube’s video selections).  So a viewer could watch the videos in any order, apparently.  It was interesting to see the personalities, body language, faces, and nice to hear the voices in the conversation…things we don’t get to enjoy in a simple forum discussion.  
I started to write “things we don’t get to enjoy in an old fashioned forum”….LOL  Really….How long have you been participating in or lurking around forums on the internet?  
My first forum interest/participation was Bruce Ford’s dulcimer forum, which I have enjoyed participating in or lurking around since 2003 or 2004…  Can’t remember exactly when I joined up with that group, but I know it was after one of my Canadian friends, Marc Mathieu, encouraged me to do so during one of the mountain dulcimer weeks at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina.  And, my brother, Damon Linkous, has been a forum/portal host in his sailing world, and I have enjoyed watching his internet community explore and enjoy the WWW over the years….So, I know forums are not really new, but they are certainly not old fashioned! 
I am excited to see the addition of video conversations that are relevant and interesting to those of us who enjoy the dulcimer AND the internet!  Let’s strum on….full speed surfing….and full steam ahead!!
Here’s the link to the dulcimer video conversation:
I’m hoping that link works for everyone.  I visited the home page of Seesmic, and I didn’t get very far without joining up with the site.  Even after registering and providing my email address, I didn’t notice any change or transition to another page within the site.  I imagine I’ll be receiving an email with an explanation or directions for how to enjoy the Seesmic communities.  I’ll be glad to share what I learn, if anyone is interested.  

June 2008 Monthly Club Meeting — Rescheduled

[originally posted in May 2008 on , copied and reposted here on 4/11/2009]

[Click on the title above, to read the monthly club meeting announcement from Bob Magowan, President of the Memphis Area Mountain Dulcimer Club.]

Greetings fellow mountain dulcimer players,

The meeting WILL NOT be at Carla’s house; rather it WILL be at MY house in Memphis. For directions, phone # (901) 751-8306.

The reason for this change is so we will not conflict with the Sunday workshops given by Erin and Amber Rogers June 1 at Howard Vance Guitar Academy. Erin will be teaching workshops on Mountain Dulcimer, and Amber on Fiddle and Banjo. They will also have a concert at 8pm at the Academy on Saturday night and will be available for private lessons on both days. If you are interested in either the workshops and/or private lessons you must preregister by calling Anita Baker Sherman at (901) 761-0535. If you need a copy of workshop schedule, use the contact button on the left of this page to email me, and I will send you one. This is a great opportunity to get some personalized and group instruction by two very talented young ladies. I hope you will take advantage of it.

Our next MAMD Club meeting WILL NOT be on the first Sunday of June; rather, it WILL be held on the second Sunday, June 8 from 3-5pm.

At our our last MAMD Club meeting we learned a few ways to form chords for playing in DGd. The information came from a workshop I took at the Dulcimer Jamboree in Mt. View, AR under the instruction of Joe Collins. Joe gave me permission to share this information with you.

At the upcoming June 8 meeting I will share some things Joe taught us about playing “upside down”. No, it is not playing the dulcimer standing on your head, but come and see what it is!

I look forward to seeing you on June 8.

Bob Magowan

Playin’ at the Zoo

Hi Friends,

Today Marie Kirby and I played music on the porch of the Once Upon a Farm exhibit at the Memphis Zoo…and we made the babies bounce!  That’s our measure of success, you know?  If the toddlers toddle by and they can’t help but bounce up and down and wiggle, we know we’ve got the beat right on….and that’s what we did today.  
Marie played her Rick Thum professional model hammered dulcimer, and I accompanied her on guitar.  Marie has been learning to play the hammered dulcimer over the past year, using Rick Thum’s song-of-the-month lessons.  The music notation in each of Rick’s lessons is leveled.  He provides the most basic notation for melodies, and he also provides a fancier/more complicated version of the notation for each song.  Lucky for me, Rick designates the specific guitar chords to be played, above the appropriate place/measures in the written notation.  So….for me…a beginner accompanier…it’s pretty simple to follow Rick’s musical instruction and play the rhythm/backup guitar while Marie melodically makes the music she plays on her beautiful hammered dulcimer.  
The weather in Memphis was perfect today.  There was a lovely breeze blowin’ in through the farm porch rockin’ chairs that were continuously being filled by visitors listening and resting and rocking in time….at times adding special effects with the rocking chairs’ squeek creeeek squeek creeeek squeek creeeek….
Several people asked what the instrument was and got up close and personal with the hammered dulcimer strings….wanting a good look at how Marie was making the beautiful music they were hearing as they stood watching or happened to just be walking up to the porch as she was finishing up a tune.  
For me, it was great practical experience to play the back-up guitar bit.  It was my first full-2-hour set of strummin’ for real in front of folks….and, guess what?  I was VERY TIRED at the end of the afternoon.  
I’m really thankful that the Memphis Zoo allows me to play on the porch.  The experience is fantastic…and always a great test of musical endurance and whether I/we can get the babies to bounce as they go by….and it feels so good to do it, as I love to make music, and I especially love to see people smile.  
Marie and her friend will be back on the porch next Saturday, May 24, 2008, at 1:30 p.m., and she has invited me to come along.  Hope to see you there!


Hi Friends,

I’m experimenting again…

Posting a video of a peacock I enjoyed watching while I was in Cosby, TN, at the Smoky Mountain Banjo Academy.  What’s the point?  Well….the peacock was absolutely beautiful and I’m just happy to share it…but also…I’m hoping that if this works, we might post a video of our club meeting for folks to get a glimpse of our fun.  Waddayathink?

See ya soon.


p.s.  I took this video with my phone and transferred it to my laptop via a bluetooth connection.

Club Members Playing at the Memphis Zoo

Hi Friends,

As always, I’m looking forward to our monthly club meeting this coming Sunday, May 4, 2008, at my house.

Also, I’m posting this entry to let you know that Marie Kirby and I will be playing/demonstrating/performing sweet music on the porch of the Once Upon A Farm exhibit at the Memphis Zoo soon. 

I’ll be playing my mountain dulcimer in a group with some friends playing other instruments at 1:30 p.m. on May 3rd.  On May 17th and May 24th, Marie Kirby will be on the porch with her hammered dulcimer.

Click here for the Zoo’s calendar listing the dates we will be playing in the Front Porch Pastimes program this year.  We would love to see you there!  Hope you’ll join us!!

See ya Sunday,

Carla Maxwell