The year after In Search of the Wild Dulcimer came out (1974), Albert and I placed an ad in the Dulcimer Player's News and Mother Earth magazine inviting the world to a festival for “friends of modes and dulcimerie” on the Washington coast. 75 people came from all over the country and Canada. This began a tradition of gathering to play music written for the dulcimer that has continued to this day. Some say it is the oldest continuously running festival dedicated to the mountain dulcimer.
We hold KG every year around the first half of August some place on the West Coast rotating among the Western States. Regular attendees some years travel far, some years not. Early on the federal government offered us “art money” to subsidize the festival. We said no. We pay no one, we charge no one. We are obliged to no one. We “kick in” toward costs and every year it manages to come out right.
We invent classes to teach on the spot, depending on what folks feel like doing that year. We share what we have been doing personally and musically. The festival is often held in places of great beauty so that we can experience music by the seashore, in the mountains, in primal forests and by free-running rivers. We do this as an extended family. We cook together, hike together, play together, share music and stay abreast of each other's lives.
Every year we welcome a few new attendees who track us down. It's not that hard these days with internet and email. Some folks come every year, some every other year, some only every decade. The yearly numbers seem to fall between 60 and 100 folks. Every year a new set of coordinators envision the setting for the next festival with the emeritus coordinators standing by to aid and abet.
What has come to distinguish the Kindred Gathering is that all musical forms are welcome. We delight in hearing the dulcimer adapted to world music, rock and roll, jazz, swing, Hawaiian as well as traditional music usually associated with the instrument like Old Time, Appalachian and Irish. All instruments are welcome. Some folks even bring brass and other wind instruments. A few people come to draw and paint and just listen.