Monday, July 9, 2018

Hot Summer

Duluth - normally cool with Lake Superior - has had some pretty hot days.  We've also had humidity and some rain (plus thunder and lightning).  We'll see how long the heat wave lasts.  Whether it's hot or cold it's a good time to bring out a dulcimer.  I've played the hammered dulcimer more than the mountain dulcimer recently but love to play both.  This summer I want to add more Scandinavian music tunes.  Duluth is not very diverse as far as people go and there are mostly Scandinavians in the area which brings out lefse and lutefisk.  I had never heard of either of those food items back in Illinois.  I have tried the lefse but I've passed on the lutefisk.  The Italian half of me still heads toward pasta and pizza.  Back to music,  Celtic music is wonderful on dulcimers as wells as good ol' time music.  I'll let you know what tunes I've added this summer.  I'll be playing at a Rosemaling fair in September so have a deadline goal to finally add some new tunes. 
Hope you are having a fun summer  - and including music this season.  I'm ready for cooler weather and to head out camping a few times.  I've already announced the 3 fall fairs I'm organizing so people are signing up for December events  - a time when Duluth is not as green and when the ice cream trunk doesn't head down our street playing it's jingle Camptown Races.

Friday, April 27, 2018

May Day - May Specials

Hello Dulcimer players,
It's about a week away from what would have been Dulcimer Day.  Every spring for 16 years I was in full mode to put on the festival.  This year as I mentioned already the festival is not happening.  Maybe I would find a grant for support or find another way, such as a dulcimer retreat, but in the format the costs were higher than what came in.

What have I been doing instead - I did go to Nepal for about a month and taught English plus did cultural touring, attending folk music performances, and met a variety of local people and people from around the world. I enjoyed so many experiences.  It was my first time to Asia.  I went on my own and volunteered with VSN- volunteer society Nepal.  I am on one of their videos - search for Wendy volunteer Nepal society.    I only heard about 15 minutes of American English the whole time I was away.  Space was limited but I wish I could have brought a dulcimer along.  I did bring back a sarangi - violin.  I don't know if I'll ever be able to play it but it looks cool with all the woodcarving on its back side.  I also visited my Dad in Phoenix for a week.  It was 100 degrees one day. We didn't go again to the big Music Instrument Museum there as we went years before right after it opened but we did a bunch of other fun things from taking a painting class, hiking, seeing wild horses, going to a bird riparian habitat area, walking through an arboretum, biking, and taking some Qi Gong classes.

Spring has finally arrived in Duluth and we had a few delightful warm days.  I know the Twin Cities area and parts of Wisconsin folks had quite a late snow storm.  We still have snow in our yard but not much. I did happen to slip on ice on a hike last weekend and have a badly bruised thumb and palm/heel of my hand.  It's been blue/purple and now it's more green/yellow and still hurts and it's on my left hand (I'm a lefty). 
I had a guest over today who plays many instruments with his main current one being button accordions.  We played old-time tunes, waltzes and Swedish tunes.  There are always more tunes to learn.  Duluth - right in Lakeside near where I live - is a midsommer festival held at a local church.  Folk music goes hand and hand with so many cultures.  In Nepal I heard many drums and listened to a harmonium player.  On May 6 I'll be going with guests through my newer project (3rd year though) and we are going May 6 to the Festival of Nations down in St. Paul.  I went to it years ago.  We will hear a lot of music combined with folk traditional dances from many countries.  I enjoy providing positive experiences for people through cultural activities.  The Up North Excursion day trips are another way I'm seeking to provide opportunities.  I have 5 spring day trips and will have 4 or so in the fall.   Even if you're not from Duluth and are from northern WI or the Iron Range you can attend these.  Check out the list. 

I plan to add more dulcimer activity this summer and would love to play a couple times a month at a local coffee shop or as background music for events.  I know I'll spend time with my dulcimers - both mountain and hammered dulcimer.  They have been a part of my life for over 40 years. 
Enjoy playing your dulcimer.  If you are interested in lessons, send me an email. 
Again - I thank all the Dulcimer Day in Duluth participants over the years.  We changed locations 3 times and had our very filled day together with workshops, performances by some of the best players in the nation (world?), food, open mike and local shopping. 
My store is still in my living room with most of it tucked away more. 
I'll have a sale starting soon on books and CDs.  I have plenty! 

Enjoy the wonders of spring - new buds, first birds, first flowers, wet earth, warmth, sunshine, light rain, butterfly watching - and somewhere in there - music.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Dulcimer Day in Duluth - not happening in May 2018

Thank you so much for attending a Dulcimer Day in Duluth festival or wanting to attend one!  I hope you are enjoying the dulcimer and playing your instrument.  I am very thankful to the helpers over the years, especially Terry Brown (my husband), Cherlyn, Bruce, Billie, and Phyllis and Gary. I am also thankful to the musicians that have made their way to Duluth (for many their first time in Minnesota), and to the local artists that have come over the years. 

Dulcimer Day in Duluth folk music festival has been held annually over the last 16 years.  It's been a day of learning opportunities with numerous classes and concerts with top performers showcasing a variety of styles to play dulcimers and introducing new tunes, having meals together, participating and listening to open mic., and a vendor area with local artisans and instrument/accessory booths. Besides dulcimer classes there have been a nice variety of other instrument classes offered, too. Unfortunately, due to decreased attendance over the past few years the festival will not be held this year.  Perhaps, if a funding sponsor or grant could be secured the fest may be held again but given the costs of the performers, traveling of the teacher/performers, venue rental, and other expenses it just isn't being covered by the lowered attendance.  Partly the poor Canadian money exchange rate, partly people being busy, it's at the point that the festival for 2018 won't be happening this May. I've thought and thought about it and even thought about just organizing a gathering but I think people really enjoyed the classes.

I know quite a few of the people relied on the mailing for the Dulcimer Day announcement.  I was mailing about 700 brochures but that won't be happening this year so really only the web and email folks will know - or at least know first.

It's been an honor to create a fun day and a day that encouraged learning more about folk instruments - most of which many people have never heard of!   I appreciate those who have traveled and made time for attending the festival and even supported it by buying a tshirt. It was fun to see smiles of people having a good time.  There are past group photos and photos from the festivals at 

Keep on playing your instrument!

Wendy Grethen

Dulcimer Day in Duluth coordinator for 16 years

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Holiday music

I recently went to a concert at the College of St. Scholastica that had a bunch of parts to the performance - drummers, steel drums, singers, and a youth performance.  It's great to hear live music and hear melodies and rhythms via voices and instruments.  In November I also visited the Swedish Cultural choir in Duluth practicing of the Santa Lucia event in December.  I enjoyed their music and a piano and violin player accompanied the singers.  Last night we went to a Norwegian concert where there was a 5 piece band. The main singer sang songs from Norway and some he wrote.  He sang some of the common holiday melodies here but in Norwegian.  Scenic slides were shown with the Northern Lights and the beauty of Norway and where the group lives the sun sets November 21 and doesn't come up again until January 21.  That would be strange.  In early December I'll be doing to the Italian Club and the men's singing group will perform.   Music is cultural, music is history, music uplifts and soothes.  Music is funny.  Music is a joy.  Music is something for everyone.

I'm looking forward to digging into learning some Scandinavian melodies on the dulcimers and to strum and hammer holiday favorites.  A few weeks ago I got to play for a private event at the Great Lakes Aquarium with the lights of Bentleyville in the background. 

I'll end with some favorite lines from some favorite holiday songs that I think just might apply to dulcimers:

Oh what fun it is to.....

....shouted out with glee....

All is calm, all is bright....

.....comfort and joy


Dulcimers make great gifts.  I also have plenty of instruction books in stock and CDs.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Rent a dulcimer this summer

I have mountain dulcimers and hammered dulcimers available to rent.  Hammered dulcimer rentals are $50 per month and mountain dulcimers are $45/month.  A deposit is required. Sign up for a lesson and you'll be playing music in no time.

By the way - I offer day trips from Duluth.  Upcoming trips are a Dixieland Jazz Music Paddleboat cruise on the St. Croix River on Sunday June 25.  We will go to Stillwater to board the boat.  A full buffet is included in this 2 hour cruise.   More info on the trips at

DDD 2017

Another Dulcimer Day has taken place.  It was a full day with the classes, concerts, meals, and vendors.  Thank you to everyone who participated.  It was great to have new participants come and returning ones as well who are growing in their skills and love of dulcimer music.  Photos will be posted as they are processed.   Beautiful weather, fun music, and good times bringing people together new and old - thank you all.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Vendors at Dulcimer Day

Dulcimer Day will have 6 main vendors and

Bill's pottery - he uses textures in his work
Diana - with natural soap and weavings - ahh the smells are just wonderful
Ruth - with quilted items and dyed wool - pretty amazing beauty
Dave - ukulele variations, amps - fun instruments
Sue - with Northwood's watercolors - lovely artwork with trees, rocks and wate,  Flowers, too.
Lee and Paula - with wooden items from birdhouses to cutting boards to woodturned bowls -he uses many kinds of wood showing the variety of natural colors.

and Dulcimers In Duluth
Mountain dulcimers - McSpadden dealer - Ginger model, Baritone, and multiple 'regular' dulcimers, dulcimer instruction books, dulcimer strings, cases, cardboard dulcimer kits, and more.  You can even get an I Love (heart) Dulcimers 'wooden' notepad.

Shop from 10AM-3PM.  If you are planning on coming to just the concert then come early to shop.  If you are taking workshops - shop on the breaks or during lunch.

There also will be a few extra Dulcimer Day tshirts to sale.  All the extra Dulcimer Day sweatshirts already sold.
The tshirts are a heather dark grey and there will be some heather blue.

Weather forecast for early this week - snow and wind.
Weather forecast for Dulcimer Day weekend -mostly sunny, high in the 50s.