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Archive for July 22nd, 2006

Evart Dulcimer Fun Fest 2006

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

Dulcimer Fun FestLast weekend we spent three days in Evart, Michigan (not far from Big Rapids, where Ferris State University is). Each year at the fairgrounds, the Dulcimer FunFest is held here. Some people come a week before it officially starts, and many stay beyond the final date of the musical events.

Dulcimer Fun FestIt’s quite a gathering, mostly focused on acoustic music. A hammered-dulcimer group organizes it, but all acoustic music is enjoyed during the event. Brian teaches ukulele workshops here each year. The vendors said it was a boom year for selling ukuleles. I say this is good for everyone!!!

Dulcimer Fun FestBrian’s mom and dad always go, as do his aunt and uncle. I really enjoy their company. Also this year and last Brian’s nephew Joe also has attended. He plays a number of instruments including viola and ukulele, and was having some good fun learning more about the uke during the festival. There are a lot of uke afficionados, including a club from near Dearborn (Detroit area) and so there was no lack of jamming opportunities for anyone.

Dulcimer Fun FestBrian and I did what we could to jam as often as possible. Of course, we are still a relatively new act in the Michigan acoustic scene, so any contact we can get with other musicians or appreciative listeners, is good for us.

Dulcimer Fun FestSince we will be playing at Coopers Glen festival in Kalamazoo in August, and some of the folks who come to Evart live on that side of the state… Well, it seems a good idea to try to meet folks from that “neck of the woods” while having great fun playing music.

Dulcimer Fun FestSo we played and played and played. We shared as much of our music as we could with new folks who had not heard us before. I tell you, it does not get more fun than this.

Dulcimer Fun FestOur friends, Judy and Whitt McKinney of the McKinney Washtub Two, were there. We always have such a great time with them. They have been performing together a long time and have a really tight act which is quite amusing, musical and intelligent. I love jamming with them and chatting in the dark while swatting mosquitos away. It’s as much fun as someone can have outdoors, I think!

Dulcimer Fun FestWhitt and Judy pushed us to play on the main stage this year (we have not done that before). In fact, Whitt woke us up on Saturday to make sure we got in line to apply for a Saturday afternoon slot.

Dulcimer Fun FestIt turned out that our performance time was when the McKinney’s were doing a workshop so they couldn’t come hear us, but we did play and had a very welcoming crowd. It was wonderful fun.

Dulcimer Fun FestOur friends, the club Uke ‘n Sing, also performed on the main stage Saturday Afternoon. We stayed to hear them, and they were incredible fun. They are so enthusiastic and they have the knack of picking excellent crowd-pleasing songs. The audience really loved their set.

Dulcimer Fun FestIt was really cute… there was one toddler girl dancing to their music, pretending to play ukulele. Then when they played “Bye, Bye Love” she had one hand strumming and the other waving “bye bye!” Just as adorable as a child can be without trying at all!

Dulcimer Fun FestOn both Friday and Saturday Brian taught intro to Ukulele workshops. At one point he was teaching them a song that had only two chords. He decided that he would jump in the air every time they needed to change chords. Considering that Brian is a relatively soft-spoken guy, this was quite fun and entertaining to watch. We all enjoyed it.

Dulcimer Fun FestFollowing the Friday workshop, there was a ukulele jam session as well. Brian really helped out the new players by putting chord diagrams up on the front wall. Then when they played during the jam, Brian would point the neck of his uke to the chord chart that was required at that moment for that song. It was a fun way to keep everybody together, and a great time was had by all.

Dulcimer Fun FestI think it was John from the Uke ‘n Sing ukulele club who said he counted at least 60 people at the uke jam. (I wonder if he counted me on my bass?) That was a highlight of my weekend, for sure.

Dulcimer Fun FestFriday night there was also another ukulele jam with the Uke ‘n Sing folks and all other uke friends. Bruce and Karol were there… Bruce does the other uke workshops that Brian does not do at this festival, and Karol plays uke and also performed a few hula dances for us (once solo and once with a friend). That was really special to me, as a dancer. She did a wonderful job.

Dulcimer Fun FestWe had such fun. We hung out with different folks different times, played old banjo music with Morgan and Sherry of Picks N Sticks stringband, played with some excellent oldtimers in the big building by the water fountain, sat on park benches and watched the crowds go by, met many new folks whose names we may never know, who were kind enough to go to the vendor building and buy our CDs. We sold more CDs than we’ve ever sold at one event, and we are humbled and delighted.

Dulcimer Fun FestDo consider coming to the Fun Fest next year if at all possible, whether you play or just like to listen to good music. (And if you get to the Lion’s food booth, you can get some of the best homemade pies I’ve seen!) I had such a good time, sauna temperatures notwithstanding, that I am eager to return already!

Dulcimer Fun FestPhotos: 1) Jam Thursday Night, crowd, 2) Jam with Brian on uke, 3) Jam with Morgan at front on Banjo, 4) Saturday jam with piano and accordion, 5) Night crowd observing Sherry and Morgan and friends, 6) Judy and Whitt McKinney showing off their new “Fabulous Heftones” bumper sticker on guitar case, 7) Stage Veiw of Brian and I on main stage, thanks to Bob of Uke ‘n Sing, 8) Uke ‘n Sing on main stage, 9) Child playing air uke and waving bye bye, 10) Brian and I at Friday night uke jam, 10 & 11) Crowd at Friday night Uke Jam, 12) Karol doing hula for us, same jam, 13) Gil once more entertaining the crowd as no one else can… he is incredible and I never want him to stop singing, 14) Friday Uke Workshop crowd (Brian’s dad and nephew Joe in front row toward left), 15) Bruce and Brian preparing to jump as a chord-changing cue in Friday workshop, 16) Saturday workshop crowd, 17) Another photo of first jam shown in this post.