Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Making music and meeting people

George Lottermoser, » Blog Archive » Panning for gold in the stream: twitter 4 months later
Last week I created a new web page-site to post work which puts words into a graphic context that, hopefully, enhances meaning. I put the link out on twitter and received a number of retweets (RT). Bing Futch, a beautiful and generous musician, responded and RT’d the link.

I've been on Twitter for about two months now and have made some fantastic connections. One of them is George Lottermoser, and this blog talks about his experiences on Twitter and how we came to meet each other. I love the internet.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Last minute gigs!

Dicey Reilly's Gig - Fri/Sat, February 27-28 at 7 pm

Those of you who have been asking when I'm playing next - here ya go! Friday and Saturday night at Dicey Reilly's (formerly O'Doherty's Irish Pub). New management, new name, haven't been down there yet - so I don't know if it's the same chef or serving staff, but we're gonna find out this weekend! February 27th-28th.

The address is:

918 New York Ave,
St. Cloud, Florida
(407) 892-7709

I'll start up at 7 pm and play until 11 pm both nights. Kid-friendly environment - just me and my double-neck dulcimer, come on out and let's have a drink on it!

Getting started with recording

7 Free Digital Recording Apps for Windows - In the Jungle
Being a musician can be expensive. With musical instruments, equipment and software you normally get what you pay for, and we want to sound good! So we pay, and pay big. But it’s good to know you can get some things for free.

Ain't that the truth?

For those of you on PCs who are looking to begin recording yourselves, this is the place to start. Next, invest in a decent microphone and/or audio interface for your computer. These range from USB interfaces like the M-Audio Transit or FireWire interfaces like the PreSonus Firebox (which is what I use together with Garageband for Mac.) They don't have to be expensive; you just have to get the sound into your computer in order to work with it.

Good mics for not a bunch of money include the old standby Shure SM-57 for instruments and Shure SM-58 for vocals.

Search this blog for the E.Q. Bible and post your questions here. If you've ever wanted to record something, now's the time to do it!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Chord-building basics

IMMusic Inc. MIDI, Music and Keyboard Fun: Building Simple Major Chords
Once you have been working on your scales a bit, you can use that information to help with the formation of chords. Let's start off with a major chord.

Start with the root note of the scale. What's the root note you ask? Without going deeper into some other discussion, it's simply the first note in the scale. So in the C major scale the root would be C. In the D major scale the root would be D.

My friend Curt's got a cool blog with all kinds of great music theory info. Though coming from the chromatic world of keyboards, this is practical learning for mountain dulcimer as well (especially if you ever plan to begin, or are, playing chromatic dulcimer.) I've been busy this week getting "Mountain Dulcimer In The Band (Book 2)" completed - more on that later - enjoy this post!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Watch this video

Elizabeth Gilbert on creative genius | Derek Sivers
* Do you feel songs come “through” you?
* Do you wait for inspiration?
* Or do you just work and work no matter what?

* Do you feel you’ve already achieved your “greatest hit”?
* Or is your greatest work yet-to-come?

I think other musicians would be curious to hear your thoughts on this too, since it’s often a very lonely pursuit, so feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page.

This is a great video and if you're a creative person, you'll find some amazing inspiration here (and that means most of you reading this right now.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

African American Roots Camp This Summer

Mars Hill College, in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina
Strengthen Technique and Expand Your Repertoire...

This week of personal instruction, jamming, and playing with nationally known faculty is guaranteed to improve your skills and help you play with more confidence! Focused morning classes, genre-based afternoon workshops, evening concerts, and informal jams allow students to experience the breadth and depth of African American music traditions. Classes cover Old Time, African, Blues, Ragtime, Funk and Jug Band standards and rarities. Whether you’re a rank beginner or a seasoned player, SRS’s in-depth curriculae and dedicated teachers will bring new enthusiasm and power to your playing.

I'm pretty stoked to be a part of this week-long event, this summer in North Carolina. More updates as we get closer, but this is up now on the Mars Hill College website.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mia Cafe: Another New Demo!

This track is a commissioned work to accompany visuals from an art gallery showing in Perth, Australia. Entitled "Mia Cafe", it's a blend of Egyptian pop-rock rhythms, mountain dulcimer, Native American flute, synthesizer washes and a sort of Flamenco approach to the solos. There are some didgeridoos in the mix as well.

I was asked to create something sort of 'aboriginal' and could've gone what I suppose would be straight tribal, but was sort of at a loss as to how that might be brought about with an uptempo and modern sort of feel. My aborigine playbook isn't exactly spilling over with tunes. However, I love great Australian pop-rock, and one thing that stands out in this music are dry, dusty solos that aren't fancy - yet carry the weight of red rocks and sand with burning heat.

To create the haunting foundation for the track, I chose a minor key, in this case B minor. The progression is very sympathetic with open D tuning on a dulcimer:

Bm - E - G - A

You can play E on the dulcimer in dd-A-D tuning (5-6+-8) but to keep things in the same range as the rest of the chords (played within the first four frets), I barred at the first fret, effectively an E5 chord - so named because it has no defining third (and with no major or minor third, it can substitute for either.)

The chorus goes:

A - G - D - G

A - G - Bm

Which brings us back into the verses.

This is a rough mix with plenty of E.Q. left to do - but I like to post these tracks as they are, to show the progress of "opening up the soundstage."

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Red-Headed Lover: New Demo!

Though she heard it while I was working on it yesterday, I don't think Jae knows that this tune was written for her as a Valentine's gift. She'll hear it in a little bit, but I got up early to do a little more tweaking on it. It's a demo, of course. I know a band that could play the hell out of this tune.

Not all blues tunes are depressing; some celebrate good times and I wanted to write something like that, also poking a little fun at your standard blues lines ("woke up this morning", "my baby done left me") while still penning a sweet little valentine for my valentine. The sassy lead lick came to me yesterday while starting to work out the tune - initially serving as a melodic prompt, I only use it as the melody in the first verse, and then go to more standard blues phrasing. The dulcimer carries the lick throughout the rest of the song. Not bad for a quick demo, huh?

Red-Headed Lover
Music and Lyrics by Bing Futch
Copyright © 2009 J.O.B. Entertainment Inc.

I've got a woman, she treats me so fine
I've got a woman, she treats me so fine
she's my red-headed lover, she's my valentine

woke up this morning, who's right there by my side?
woke up this morning, who's right there by my side?
she says, "come over here, baby - let's go for a ride."

my baby, she done left me and threw me off my track
my baby up and left me and threw me off my track
she said, "I'm just goin' to the store, honey and I'm comin' right back"

one and one is two, two and six is eight
ate up 'bout my baby, now let's get something straight
I've got a woman, she treats me so fine
she's my red-headed lover-girl, she's my valentine

she's my red-headed lover-girl, she's my valentine

for Jae

Thursday, February 12, 2009

White Sandy Beach

I'm doing some crazy, experimental recording tonight, er, this morning. Here's a sample - let me know what you think!

Tune is by Willie Dan, my version is inspired by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole and can be seen also in this video:

Thanks for checking it out! I'll be removing the MP3 from the server at some point, so if you come back and it's not here, `A`ole hiki ke `alo a`e, that's life!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Click image to play movie

This video is from the weekend of the 2009 Winter NAMM show in Anaheim, California. While trying out my new Folkcraft double-neck, I was joined by keyboardist Scott May of The Ides Of March on a Hohner Melodica in the lobby of the Holiday Inn. Cool stuff! Thanks to Nick Young for the video (and for the dulcimer.)

Watch this video

Monday, February 09, 2009

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow


Flying over central Florida in the afternoon is a beautiful experience. The sun sparks fire as it reflects within the many faces of lakes scattered across the landscape, leaping from point to point like heat lightning. The Mid-Winter Dulcimer Festival was tremendous fun and a success for organizer Joe Collins, who said that it was the most densely populated event in the festival's ten years.

After a busy morning of registration and some pre-workshop purchases from the vendor tables, folks got a welcome from Joe and an introduction of the instructors; Alan Darveaux, Wayne Seymour, Margit Roberson, Nancy Galambush, Joe and me. Margit and Nancy are also part of Flat Mountain Dulcimers along with Margit's husband Dave.

Workshops were packed with all skill levels from rank beginner to advanced students, all looking to expand their range of playing. My "Get Rhythm" class, half of whom are shown here, was 40 people strong and nearly spilled out of our room. It was quite amazing to hear that many dulcimers in close quarters beating out grooves and polyrhythms. We were a voluminous group in more ways than one.

Concerts took place during the lunch hour and then in the evening. Joe was joined by his frequent music partner Mike McGee and they played some of the distinctively delicate and delightful tunes for which they're known. You'll be able to hear some of the proceedings on this week's episode of the DPNews Online Audio Podcast.

After all was said and done, the traditional dinner of Mexican food was on: why this has become a thing for me on the road, I have no idea. Fortunately, tiny Shelby, NC had Los Cabos, a new restaraunt (1203 East Marion St. - (704) 482-4584) and we got there in time to enjoy a nice meal. I had the California Burrito, which was just the right portion size and one of the best burritos I've ever had. Sitting there with Joe and Mike, it was nice to reflect back on the day's events, full of smiles and music and friends new and old. No wonder I love road-trippin' so much.


It's all about production this week since the next festival gig isn't until March. This is a not-so-busy time of the year where I can get some recording done and continue work on the "Mountain Dulcimer In The Band" series. As usual, there's a flurry of podcast work to be done for both Dulcimerica and Dulcimer Players News, so that's what keeps me madly hopping today. That and perhaps a little gardening to ground me a bit after all that zooming around in the sky this past weekend.


Jeff Hames' New and Young Dulcimer Players Forum will feature the topic "Intro To Music Theory" - forum begins February 10, 2009 at 8:00 pm central. I'm a forum host along with Lee Cagle, Jim Woods, Joe Collins, Ken Bloom, Erin Rogers and Butch Ross. Ask questions and get answers in real-time - this is great for folks who are wanting to cut right to the chase and dig in with their ongoing journeys on mountain dulcimer.


Thanks for reading and for visiting all of the folks linked from the page. If you have any suggestions for topics on Dulcimerica or the DPN podcasts or even this blog, please don't hesitate to drop me a line at

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Trouble with a capital "T"

New Tune!

The first round of new tunes is beginning to surface and the first one is a traditional blues number that has been cruising around in my noggin for awhile. I may upload a light demo this week as I toy around with some elements. Using Band-In-A-Box for the backing tracks, though I'll record this with Mohave, more than likely:

"Uphill In A Headwind"
Music and Lyrics by Bing Futch
Copyright © 2009 J.O.B. Entertainment Inc.

I got troubles on my mind
lord where do I begin? (2x)
feels like I'm runnin' to stand still, up hill in a headwind

you know I broke these chains so long ago
now I'm wearing them again (2x)
feels like I'm runnin' to stand still, up hill in a headwind


I used to make good money
but that was long ago (2x)
you know these days I'm clipping coupons
every time I go to the store

don't you remember me, baby
I was the one who let you in (2x)
now you act like you don't know me
well, I thought you was my friend


I got troubles on my mind
lord where do I begin? (2x)
feels like I'm runnin' to stand still, up hill in a headwind


Been putting Annie through her paces and she really howls on this tune - so an upload of backing tracks and dulcimer will come first - then, as I've worked out the vox and arrangement better, there will come stage two.

Mountain Dulcimer Podcast

Last night's podcast with Stephen Seifert was great - thanks to all who "attended" and were present in the chat room. If you missed it, the archive of the show can be found here.

On The Road, Er, In The Air Again

This weekend, I'll be at the Mid-Winter Dulcimer Festival in Shelby, North Carolina along with Joe Collins, Alan Darveaux, Wayne Seymour, Nancy Galumbush, Margit Roberson and Flat Mountain Dulcimers. The concert on Saturday night is free, if you're in the area - come on out! Information on the workshops is in the link above.

More later this week - I'm going back to writing.