Three Decades – 21 songs from 31 years Hand Made Music HMM 101
This was the CD I took to Ireland for a tour in the summer of 2003. Import duties for manufactured product was high but duties for hand-made, “burned” cds was not. I selected 21 cuts for the 71-minute CD to showcase what the dulcimer could do in the context of world music. When I got back to the US I also created a (very!) limited release with a cover and an actual ticket to the concert in Killarney.
The disc contained a sampling of songs and tunes I thought would represent the diversity of the instrument and my stylistic musical interests. It had been thirty years since I was in Europe as a performer, and never to an English speaking country. I took about a hundred and didn't return with any, so that was good. I gave most of them away, a relatively inexpensive calling card and hosting gift.
The tour was the result of an invitation from Christie Burns to attend the 2nd Annual Cork Dulcimer Festival. I took a red-eye from the Cullowee Festival in North Carolina, bouncing through Atlanta and New Jersey to arrive the morning of my show. Three very excited golfers sat behind me and talked all night about their upcoming rounds of golf in Scotland-- the home of the sport. I hardly slept a wink.
I found a bus connection to the University in Cork and showed up late that same morning, meeting, among others, Butch Ross for the first time. After having been plied with good Beamish Irish Stout and a pub sandwich, I was more or less ready to shake off the long flight and explore the delights of Cork. Show time found me in a towering, echoing cathedral. The uptempo set I had planned went into the dustbin and I selected slower arrangements to take advantage of the amazing echo.
The next several days were truly wonderful. I was introduced to the pub life of Cork, met and played with some amazing musicians. What a beautiful place! Christie had arranged several gigs across the country, one being in Killarney at the same time as the international street buskers gathering was being held. Superlatives fail me. Every street corner had such amazing acts— not just musicians, but jugglers, comedians, mimes-- all sorts. Judges went around and gave marks for the best performers.
Christie, Butch, a great fiddler, Ethan, and I daily jammed ourselves and our instruments into a tiny car and Butch, with his dry humor commentary coupled with his native Philadelphian insouciance, piloted us along the giant artichoke hedge rows of the narrow roads-- made even more harrowing since every corner was essentially taken blind on the right-hand side of the road.
Ethan had set up the balance of the tour at Camphill Schools. This was my first introduction to these “homes” (there are more than one hundred Camphill communities in over twenty countries) where children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities live as part of an intentional family. In Ireland, all of the places we played were on farms where many of the “guest workers” were German youth doing alternative service in lieu of their military service obligation.
Since the emotional age of the residents was mostly that of children, I found myself falling back into my Iceland Tour days. I resurrected “David Duck”-- the shy brother of Donald who hid beneath my collar and would sing along in “duckish” as I bunched my fist under my shirt above the shoulder and made it wiggle, switching mid-song back and forth to a “duck voice”. Funny songs like Dog Gnarled, Loch Ness Monster and Waltzing with Bears were regulars in the set.
In one show “David” escaped and ran off. He didn't want to sing anymore. After the show one of the residents came up to me with his hands cupped in front of him. “I found your dook,” he exclaimed, a bright twinkle in his eye. I solemnly thanked him and returned David to my inside pocket.