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Whether you're new to the hammered dulcimer and not quite sure how to start, or you haven't played in a while and could use a dose of inspiration, or you play all the time and can think of nothing better than to hang out and jam with other dulcimer players for a weekend, the Spring Fling (Hammered Dulcimer) Rendezvous could be exactly what you need! Head to Sandy, Oregon and join dozens of Northwest dulcimer players (and a few from farther afield) for a weekend of workshops, jam sessions, family-style dinners and general dulcimeraderie.
The 2015 Rendezvous takes place at Oral Hull Park from April 23rd through the 26th, and there are still some spots open for beginning players. (Advanced players can ask to be put on the waiting list.) Registration information can be found on the Spring Fling website.
If you're not convinced yet, here's a bit more about the experience.
A beautiful park, indoor spaces for workshops, options for dorm-style lodging, camping, or staying at a nearby hotel, views of Mt. Hood... you get the picture. Plus, you just can't beat the Pacific Northwest in the springtime!
Garden at Oral Hull Park
This year, Sam Rizzetta, Nicholas Blanton and Tina Bergmann will travel from afar to teach a variety of workshops and perform in the instructors' concert. There will also be workshops by NW dulcimer players Carolyn Cruso, Rick Fogel, Mick Doherty and Carl Thor.
Just added: Marina Albero, recently relocated to Seattle from Barcelona, will give a concert on Thursday night and a workshop on Friday.
Last year's instructors' concert - Patti Amelotte, Andy Young and Jody Marshall
The workshop schedule hasn't been finalized yet, but examples of past workshops include Hammered Dulcimer From Scratch, Strategies for Ensemble Playing, and Creative Chord Theory. Participants register for one of four skill levels (Beginner, Novice, Intermediate or Advanced) and attend workshops geared towards that level.
Because dulcimers take up so much space, the organizers are careful to keep each skill level group to a reasonable size. If you're interested in an "out of group" workshop, you're welcome to go and listen, but there generally isn't room to bring your instrument. The good news is that each group gets its own room, so only the teachers have to pack up and move between workshops. As teacher/organizer Mick Doherty says, "This avoids traffic jams of 40+ migrating dulcimers every few hours!"
The Panel Discussions
We haven't mentioned yet that Ray Mooers (co-owner and founder of Dusty Strings) will be camping out at the Spring Fling this year as well. With Nicholas Blanton, Sam Rizzetta and Rick Fogel (of Whamdiddle), this brings the list of real-life hammered dulcimer builders in attendance to four (!), and what better opportunity to mine their collective wisdom and experience for answers to all things technical?
There will probably be a repeat of last year's "Dulcimer Doctor" panel, where participants can ask for advice on everything from humidity to re-stringing. There may also be a builder's forum, which could involve a fascinating discussion of the historical and ongoing design collaborations between Sam Rizzetta and both Nick Blanton and Dusty Strings. And if you have any questions about Dusty Strings dulcimers, there will be plenty of chances during the weekend to corner Ray and ask him in person!
Ray Mooers and Rick Fogel in last year's Dulcimer Doctor panel
Jam sessions are probably unavoidable with this many musicians in one spot, and these ones are especially friendly and often last long past midnight. Participants are encouraged to bring non-dulcimer instruments to jam on as well. Rumor has it that ukes will be big this year...
Jam session starting long before midnight
All sorts of fun items (donated by participants) appear in the annual raffle, which occurs on Saturday night during dinner and helps to support the event. Beautiful hand-made craft items, used instruments, recordings, hammers... you name it. Last year, the very first Dusty Strings Dulci-Tune was among the most popular raffle items, and Ray has promised to bring another one this year. Could it be yours?
The Open "Mic"
Last, but not least, the open "mic" (in quotes because there is no actual microphone) is great opportunity to perform a tune in front of a friendly audience. If you haven't done much performing and are nervous about it, this is the best way to get your feet wet. And if you're an old hat with something fun to share, you won't find a more appreciative group to share it with!
The Crazy Californios perform at the 2014 open "mic"
For more information, photos and registration forms, visit nwdulcimer.com.
Have you been to the Spring Fling before? Chime in with your stories!