Monday, September 17, 2018

Opportunities to share music

I have rarely played at open mics but last night I did a short set at the Amazing Grace coffee house in Duluth.  I was on for the 2nd to last spot of the night - after most people had left.  It is a bit scary to do open mic.  I am not a singer or guitar player - the rest of the evening's open mic folks were.  Anyways, I like to share music so there I went.  The lighting was a bit of challenge and yes my hammers shook a bit more - but they didn't drop.  I love Celtic music, old-time and good ole' folk tunes.  Maybe I'll write songs some day.   The moderator did invite me back to play at brunches there and that sounded like fun to do background music. 

This month I've also played at a senior assisted living place.  I was there about 6 months ago during a snow storm - even the schools were closed but I came and played music.  I bring along the limberjack, shakers, and wooden spoons for people to join in on the last few tunes.  One person asked about what the strings on the hammered dulcimer were originally in it's early days.  I don't know.  Do you? 

Another place I played this month was volunteering at a Memory Cafe.  It's where people with dementia and their caregivers gather monthly for a bit of fun.  I played a bunch of tunes on the hammered dulcimer.  I wish I would have prepared some 'quiz' questions about songs or completing lines in popular tunes.  Maybe next time.  I also was able to share my other projects I've done in the community: producing local history videos, the Look at Lakeside newsletter, and the day trips to arts, music, history and nature places.  It was a nice group of people.  Sadly, it was 9/11 so we did spend some time in silence.

I'll be playing at a rosemaling festival this Saturday.  I tried to learn some Scandinavian tunes but didn't get as far as I hoped.   I look forward to roaming around the fest after I'm done.  I love folk craft. 
I have 3 local art and gift fairs that I'm organizing this fall.  There really haven't been many folk craft people but there is a good assortment of people attending the fairs. The fairs are about filled but there are a few more spots.  I always do some shopping at the fairs and like to chat with the returning and new artisans. 

Time to head for bed.  I do a nightly suduko as a day's end activity.  Nights are cooling off but the open window still works out well for fresh air.  Maybe we will get to camp one more time this fall. It's hard to find 2 days in a row let alone one day/night free to go.

I'm contemplating getting a harmonium.  Still thinking about it. 

Good night.

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.  www.wendyupnorth.com/excursions.   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.
Wendy

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 DulcimersInDuluth.com. 

Keep on playing your instrument!

Wendy Grethen

www.DulcimersInDuluth.com

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



Wendy

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 www.wendyupnorth.com/excursions.

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.