Folkcraft Player - Laura Bell
Hey, y'all. My name is Laura Bell and I live in the North Carolina mountains just west of Asheville.
Richard, please don't ever stop the Folkcraft newsletters - I enjoy them so much!!! And I am enjoying getting to know the other Folkcraft Players and was so excited to see a few that I know personally (you know who you are, Annette Sheffield and Bill Lloyd).
I first learned to play mountain dulcimer at the Black Mountain Music Festival in Fall of 2018, on a borrowed dulcimer. I then proceeded to build my first dulcimer in a wood-working class at my local community college, but never forgot the beauty and tone of the dulcimers in the Folkcraft booth at BMMF.
Even though I wasn't able to attend the 2019 BMMF, I still traveled there to ask Richard Ash his thoughts on my homemade dulcimer. He was very encouraging about my efforts and gave me suggestions for improvements. So I built another according to his suggestions and found great improvement in the tone and volume, but I couldn't shake the pull of the Folkcraft dulcimers. Therefore, instead of investing the time (and blood, sweat, and tears) on building my own (I didn't think I could improve further), I saved up and ordered a custom H Series chromatic dulcimer in black walnut and butternut in 2020. I have never regretted it. It played as smooth as butter!
I currently own 2 more Folkcraft dulcimers: an eastern red cedar made by Jim Ash with bear sound holes that I purchased at the 2021 BMMF, and another very special one: Jessie, the double neck, black walnut/butternut dulcimer made by Steve Ash and owned and played by Bing Futch in many, many videos, performances, and competitions (her twin Woody still lives with Bing). They helped him to win Best Solo Guitarist at the 2016 International Blues Challenge!
My playing activities include some small local jams, a local nursing home, and playing for my church group. As I approach retirement, I hope to expand to playing for other facilities and hospice, and to teach others how to play so that they can experience the joy and release of making music with a dulcimer on their lap.
I wish I had known about mountain dulcimers and learned to play them as a child, instead of struggling with a violin and never being satisfied. My other instruments include autoharp, guitar, and a hammered dulcimer (I actually won it in a raffle at the 2021 BMMF! and am working at learning it so I can teach it to others also) but I am passionate about the mountain dulcimer.
After all, who needs therapy when you have a mountain dulcimer?