Sunday, July 15, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012



I've started my research project on the 305 Child ballads:

I'll start updating you and give you examples of these great ballads and the US variants,


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Nathan Hicks Dulicmer


The photo (click to enlarge) is Nathan Hicks with his dulcimer c. 1935 from the front of "Beech Mountain Ballads" published by G. Shirmer in 1936. The mountain folk pronounced it "dul-ci-moor." This is probably my grandfather's dulcimer or another one just like it. It's a three string made circa early 1930s with the heart shaped cut-outs on the top. My father keeps it in the original bag with my grandfather's initials M.M. on it.

My grandfather Maurice Matteson used to play it in his ballad bagging concerts, so I figured I'd look at this dulcimer when I visited my folks during Christmas. When my father pulled it out of the bag I could tell the strings were very old- I'd say sixty or seventy years old. The frets are very short and can only be used to play one string- which is the bass string!

I couldn't tune the strings up without fear of damaging the instrument so I tuned it to G (melody string) then the second string G unison with the top string G an octave higher. It worked.

So I tried playing it- first with my finger to fret the strings, then with an emory board stick and lastly with half of an wooden clothes pin. The clothes pin worked the best. I didn't have a pick but I got one from Bob Hitchcock, my brother-in-law. I figured why not play some of Nathan Hicks songs and record them at Bob's little home studio. Kara Pleasants, my niece, loves to sing and Zach, my nephew, played the violin.

So I wrote out a couple of Hicks songs in G for Zach and we practiced a bit then recorded them the next morning. They did a gr8 job, so did Bob making the recording.

Here's one ballad: George Colon (collected in 1933 from Nathan Hicks):




Thursday, November 17, 2011

I'm back- back in black- on the black top studio- going nowhere fast



Long time no post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The photo above was taken at my new studio!!! That's right- a parking lot on Payne Street in Louisville. I was driving to teach a lesson at Highland UMC and there was a marathon race being held- the roads were blocked off in every direction! I couldn't make it to my lesson. So it happened that my student Chris Sohl was stuck too, and he just happened to be stuck exactly where I was- we drove over to an adjacent parking lot and started picking!!!

This marks the annals of the most bizarre lesson I've taught and Chris, a very talented guy and gr8 sax player, took the photo above.

Thanks Chris!!!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Heine Brothers Coffee


My students and I do a regular gig at Heine Brothers on Herr Lane in Westport Village.

Jen Dye sent me some vids of our last performance April 23-

Snow by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show:


WAGON WHEEL http://http//

Most of the songs I play with my students, they bring in the song they want to perform and the next week I have to learn it - haha! My band, Bluegrass Messengers, did a show with the Old Crow about 10 years ago in Winston-Salem- they are great, very popular too.

Coem out to the next Heine Brothers show featuring one of my bands and my students May 14th at 8:00 Westport Villiage- it's fun.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Kentucky Dance- Full view- Professional reproduction


On the left is the full-view of my new painting, Kentucky Dance (Click to enlarge). Hope you enjoy it. I've rekindled some of my interested in painting after taking off 6 months to do other things.


Kentucky Dance- Close up- professional reproduction


On the left (Click to enlarge) is a close-up of the dance and jam, the final professional reproductions of my new painting, Kentucky Dance. If you're interested in getting a copy- several people have expressed an interest- just email me at

At some point I'll go over the steps I took to create the painting and show you the original cabin in Kernersville, NC.