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Pacific Rim Dulcimer Project    Flying Fish Records    FF 307 (re-release)

Biscuit City was bought out by Bruce Kaplan's, Chicago-based, Flying Fish label around late '79, or early 80's. Of the dozen or so productions purchased, only the Pacific Rim Dulcimer Project was ever re-released on his label. Changes to the album were minimal with none made to the liner notes or the songs. Bruce removed the Biscuit City banner from the front of the cover, added a Flying Fish logo to the back, went to black/white instead of sepia and changed the lp label to red, adding his FF logo.

There are artists' “bootleg” copies circulating on CD. It's not clear if Flying Fish (hence Rounder, after Bruce died unexpectedly in 1992) own anything but the right to put it out as a vinyl recording since it came out before recording contracts contained language that covered the rights to publish in all future formats. As for payment, it used to be that artists traded royalties for albums and sold them at gigs. That's how it worked for Biscuit. With Flying Fish, I never saw either an lp or a check, most likely because labels “charged” artists to produce the album and held back money until costs were covered.

Following the publication of In Search, Albert and I brainstormed that there should be a festival around the dulcimer--not as an add-on to other folk gatherings, but separate and dedicated to just the instrument. We published an ad in the emerging Dulcimer Player's News started by Maddie McNeil. One hundred people from across the US and Canada came to the event held on the Washington coast one drizzly weekend in August of 1975 to a Kindred Gathering on the North Pacific Rim.

A year later Bonnie Carol wrote to me and said she had an offer to make a dulcimer album for a small label in Denver, Biscuit City Records, and would I like to do it with her? I countered with the idea that the top players who were at the Pacific Rim Kindred Gathering the year before should all be invited so we could showcase the many different kinds of music we all played.

Michael Rugg, Albert d'Ossche', Neal Hellman, Michael Hubbert and I converged on Bonnie's place outside of Boulder, Colorado in March of 1977. Over a week we recorded originals and folk covers that displayed both our own talents and the diversity of the dulcimer. N.C. Bull was the engineer and sat in with his electric bass on a cut. Jim Ransom, co-owner of the label, along with Bonnie's husband, Max Krimmel, put on guitar here and there. Laura Benson, another co-owner, added some autoharp.

The name came from a little-known lp release by Elektra Records featuring four emerging artists-- one of them Richard Fariña-- called the Singer Songwriter Project. Also, since all of the players on this album were living on the West Coast (as opposed to being from Appalachian Mountain states) and coupled with the fact that we all met on the Pacific Rim, the album title was set. In the Winfield, Kansas, Walnut Valley Occasional (home the National Flatpicking Championships) they wrote, “It is likely to be the most important dulcimer recording of contemporary music since the Fariña albums.”

An accompanying book co-written by all of us detailing how to read and write dulcimer tablature and how to play the tunes also got reviews in major magazines. Pickin' Magazine wrote, “Make no mistake, this is not a book for strict devotees of the traditional mountain dulcimer music any more than David Grisman Quintet is the cup of tea for fans of conventional Bluegrass.” (January 1979).

Each of the players on “PacRim” were to go on to create additional albums of their own. Each also toured independently, adding to a greater distribution of the album to the non-mainstream market. Looking back from an almost 40-year perspective, the record, the book and the artists themselves were certainly seminal in the initial popularization of the dulcimer in the late 70s. Except for Albert who died in 1990, all of the other musicians on that album are still performing today (2014).