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!

Carla





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