Meet our 2015 Winter Weekend Instructors!
Larry Conger (Paris, Tennessee)
Dulcimer U Director – Larry and his wife Elaine are co-directors of Dulcimer U at Western Carolina University. They make their home in Paris, Tennessee where they operate a private music studio, teaching piano, voice, guitar and drums as well as the mountain dulcimer. Some of their instruction includes long distance learning via Skype and Larry's Tune of the Month, a CD lesson by mail.
A graduate of the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) Larry has been involved with music as a vocation for over 35 years. Besides being a popular instructor at various dulcimer workshops around the country, Larry also served as a church music director for several Baptist churches during the late 1970s through the 1990s. He has been a participating artist for the Tennessee Arts Commission's Arts In Education program as well as the Kentucky Arts Council's Teacher Incentive Program, bringing dulcimer music into the public schools.
In 1995, Larry won the Southern Regional Mountain Dulcimer Championship in Mountain View, Arkansas. Three years later, he won the prestigious National Mountain Dulcimer Championship in Winfield, Kansas. Larry has authored fourteen dulcimer books and has three recordings to his credit.
When Larry is not teaching the Master Class during the morning hours or attending to the details of Dulcimer U, he will be helping his wife, Elaine direct the Dulcimer Ensemble elective each afternoon.
Elaine Conger (Paris, Tennessee) Dulcimer U Director – Elaine is a professional music educator and Orff-Schulwerk specialist who has a passion for instilling a love for the arts in young people. Her years as a professional musician, combined with her experience as a classroom teacher give her a unique perspective when working with students.
Her past musical experience includes touring with her own country band, performing on the General Jackson showboat at Opryland in Nashville and touring as pianist and back-up vocalist with country music superstar, Faith Hill. More recently, she has directed and accompanied numerous musical theater productions and even starred in a few herself. Her favorite role to date is as Patsy in "Always Patsy Cline." Elaine also serves as organist/music director for a local Episcopal Church.
Aaron O"Rourke - Mountain Dulcimer -- Aaron began teaching and performing on mountain dulcimer at the age of 16. In a short period of time, Aaron became one of the headlining names at many dulcimer festivals across the country. To date, Aaron has authored nine instructional books for mountain dulcimer.
In 2010, Aaron won the National Mountain Dulcimer Competition held at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, KS. Aaron is also a past winner in the Florida Old-time music competition held in Dade City, FL and the Southeastern Regional Dulcimer Contest in Mountain View, AR.
As the front man of the Aaron O'Rourke Trio, a group consisting of mountain dulcimer,
fiddle and upright bass that melds the sounds of traditional Irish and Old-Time music
with classically influenced arrangements and original compositions, he has headlined
many folk and progressive acoustic music festivals in the southeast including the
Florida Folk Festival, Gamble Rogers Folk Festival, and Stringbreak Festival. In 2007,
the group released its debut self-titled album which is currently available on David
Grisman's digital record label, Acoustic Oasis. In 2012, the current line-up, featuring
Katie Geringer on fiddle and Erik Alvar on bass, released its debut CD, "Syzygy" on
Jeff Furman - Mountain Dulcimer. Jeff is an award-winning mountain dulcimer player who is known for his smooth and expressive style. His gentle, humorous, and effective teaching style has made him a popular instructor at numerous mountain dulcimer workshops across the country. Jeff is a multi-instrumentalist who has been playing old-time and traditional music since 1980. On the mountain dulcimer he has a particular fondness for waltzes and Celtic airs. He has been performing for more than 30 years, and his technical abilities and musical sensitivity have made Jeff a popular choice for playing on multiple recordings, including music from Ireland, Scotland, the Appalachian Mountains, and American folk tunes. Touching someone's heart with his music is Jeff's most rewarding goal. Jeff describes himself as a musician with a day job! He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Linda Thomas - Hammered Dulcimer. Linda has played music virtually her entire life, studying Classical and Jazz piano
from age seven through college; she earned a BS in Music Education and Master of Arts
in Teaching and enjoyed a thirty-five year career in Public School Music Education.
Linda became intrigued by the hammered dulcimer sound and began playing in 1992; she quickly moved into the contest circuit placing in the Southern Regional Finals in Mt. View, AR and has won both the Texas State Competition and the Scottish Highlands Competition of Denver, CO.
Thomas is widely recognized for her instructional materials published by Mel Bay Publications, Inc. ; she also is a much sought after instructor for hammered dulcimer camps and workshops.
In addition, Linda performs extensively with her husband, flatpick guitarist, Dan
DeLancey; and, in addition to her hammered dulcimer leads and back-up, she is frequently
heard providing vocal harmonies and playing Swing piano with The Thomas/DeLancey Band.
Linda's unique musical style reflects a deep passion for the music and a clear understanding
of both the role of a solo artist and that of an ensemble musician. As a teacher,
Linda demonstrates an exceptional ability to work with players of all levels and her
extensive experience in education is apparent!
Jess Dickinson - Hammered Dulcimer. Jess began performing hammered dulcimer at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas in 1990, where he was the featured hammered dulcimer player on the annual Christmas show for seven years. Jess is the 2013 Southern Regional Hammered Dulcimer Champion, and he and Jeff Hames won first place in the 2013 Southern Regional ensemble competition. Jess has performed with symphony orchestras and on stages across the country, both as a soloist, and with his bluegrass band, the Bluegrass Appeal, which recently released a CD, "From Dublin to the Delta," with guest performer Stephen Seifert.
For the past 25 years, Jess has instructed hammered dulcimer at numerous festivals and workshops including ODPC Funfest, The Memphis Gathering, Ozark Folk Center, Southern Strings, Arkansas Dulcimer Society, Lagniappe Dulcimer Festival, Southern Appalachian Festival, Buckeye Dulcimer Festival, and others. He is the author of "The Essential Hammered Dulcimer Instruction Manual," now set to go into its fourth printing, and sold across the United States and in twelve foreign countries. He also has produced numerous instruction videos for hammered dulcimer, many of which are available on DVD through his website, DickinsonDulcimer.com. His instruction videos occupy 12 of the top 20 results for "hammered dulcimer instruction" on YouTube.
When Jess is not performing or teaching hammered dulcimer, he is either working at his two day jobs – Mississippi Supreme Court Justice, and law school Professor.
Dan Delancey - Guitar -- Dan's early exposure to Old Time String Band music was the result of hearing other family members play various instruments and his listening to a vast collection of recordings. He learned to play rhythm guitar from those recordings and his interest in flatpicking lead guitar was sparked when he heard Doc Watson and Dan Crary playing on Public Radio in the 1970's. Thirty years later Dan has gained recognition as a seasoned flatpicker known for his fluid style and original arrangements, some of which appear in Flatpicking Guitar Magazine and Mel Bay Publications, Inc..
"Listening to him play, it is certainly evident that arrangement is something Dan does very well. His arrangements are interesting, exciting, tasteful and well performed". Dan Miller, Editor, Flatpicking Guitar Magazine
Dan holds many Flatpick Guitar titles including: Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arizona and Colorado as well as the Steve Kaufman Guitar Contest and the prestigious Rocky Mountain BG Festival Flatpicking Championship in 1998. Dan performs regularly as a duet partner with Linda Thomas, hammered dulcimer, and with the Thomas/DeLancey Band.
Jim Miller (Hampton, Tennessee) Master of the Jam – Jim has been playing and performing traditional music for more than 35 years. An accomplished instrument builder and teacher, he has taught workshops at numerous festivals as well as won many awards for his musicianship.
For twenty years, Jim was the owner of the Hampton Music Shop, in Hampton, Tennessee, where he handcrafted over 750 hammered dulcimers. He has played with Celtic, Bluegrass, Swing, Blues and Old Time bands, and has done session work on many recordings.
In addition to being an accomplished performer and workshop leader, Jim also is an enthusiastic jam facilitator (Jam-Meister, Master of the Jam, etc.) who likes to get everyone involved. He plays guitar, banjo, octave mandolin, bass, steel drum, percussion, autoharp, hammered and mountain dulcimers as well as his own off-the-wall musical inventions, which are always entertaining.
Jim holds a Master's degree in Elementary Education and has completed the course work
for certification in music education. He teaches 4th grade at Cloudland Elementary
School in Roan Mountain, Tennessee, where he leads an after school traditional string
band program. He also teaches dulcimer and autoharp in the Bluegrass, Old Time, and
Country Music program at East Tennessee State University.
Anne Lough (Waynesville, North Carolina) Anne Lough joins the Dulcimer U staff this year to teach some afternoon electives. She is a nationally known traditional musician with over thirty-five years experience in performance and teaching. A native of Springfield, Virginia, Anne has been around music all her life and began playing and singing folk music as a young teen. She has continued to share her love of music through the years while raising four daughters and completing a Music Education Degree from Murray State University, Murray, Kentucky, and a Master of Music Education Degree from Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC. She now devotes all her time to festivals, workshops, performances and school residencies.
In addition to being a frequent instructor in mountain and hammered dulcimer at the prestigious John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC., Anne has taught at the Swannanoa Gathering, Augusta Heritage Dulcimer Week and at numerous other festivals and workshops throughout the country. Equally at home on guitar, autoharp, mountain and hammered dulcimer, Anne's mastery is impressive. Her artistic interpretation, sensitive playing style, versatility and skill as an instructor have earned her national acclaim.
Anne is well known as an instructor and performer of traditional singing, storytelling, folklore, folk dance and the shaped-note tradition, but her repertoire ranges from classical music to old standards, show tunes and sacred music. Her programs have delighted and inspired all ages from day-care and pre-school children to Elderhostelers. Active in schools as a Visiting Artist, Anne is also on the Touring Artist Roster for the North Carolina Arts Council.
Anne's music can be heard on a number of recordings, Smoky Mountain educational videos, public radio and a recent PBS Christmas Special. She has also published several collections of arrangements for the mountain and hammered dulcimer.