By CHERIL VERNON
Organizers of the 12th Annual Dulcimer & Old Time Music Festival are expecting hundreds of music lovers, including several people from out-of-state, to attend the three-day event that kicks off today at the Museum for the East Texas Culture in Palestine.
“We’ve got folks coming from all over the place for the festival — North Carolina, Virginia, Michigan — and we have at least 10 dulcimer teachers and old-time musicians coming with their hammer dulcimers, fiddles, banjos, basses and guitars,” said Margaret Wright, who organizes the annual event with her husband, Jerry. “We’re expecting a big crowd, around 300 or so to attend.”
The dulcimer festival will be held today through Saturday at the museum, located at 400 Micheaux Ave. in Palestine. The festival is geared for everyone ranging from music lovers to beginning to experienced musicians.
Concerts will be held from 6:45 p.m. to 10 p.m. each night in the museum auditorium.
“There is going to be a lot of variety. We have some musicians that also do vocals. Basically it’s old time music — very toe-tapping, happy music guaranteed to be a lot of fun,” Margaret said. “Our concerts are not boring, they will definitely get their money’s worth.”
Headliners will include: Atawater and Donnelly, Sue Carpenter, Margaret Wright, Susan Trump, Jody Kruskal, Stephen Seifert, Guy George, Dana Hamilton, The Rosin Sisters, Alice Gerrard, David Lindsey, Ken Kolodner, Beverly Smith, Tina Gugeler, Steve Eulberg, Don Pedi, Lloyd and April Wright and The Dove Brothers (who are part of the Sea Cruisers).
“Our concert Thursday night (today) will include the couple Guy and Sherry George. Guy doesn’t necessarily play old time music. His wife plays the hammer dulcimer, but he plays the soprano saxophone and is a percussionist. It will be kind of a sampler concert,” Wright said.
While the schedule for today is not set in stone to be flexible as headliners and workshop instructors begin to arrive from across the country, workshops and jams will be formed as needed.
“There will be people playing music and jamming on every floor of the building, outside the museum and even downstairs in the log cabin — they will be everywhere,” Margaret said. “We will literally fill up the museum.
“The museum staff says that when the festival comes around every year, the museum comes to life for three days. And we are here all day and very late into the night.”
The schedule for Friday and Saturday will be as follows: 9 to 10:15 a.m., workshops and jams; 10:45 a.m. to noon, workshops and jams; noon to 1 p.m., break for lunch; 1:15 to 2:30 p.m., day concerts; 2:45 to 4 p.m., workshops and jams; 4 to 6:45 p.m., free time and dinner; 6:45 to 10:05 p.m., evening concerts; 10:05 until, jamming.
Concertinas also are included in the festival. The concertina folks will have their own headliner and instructor.
Cost is $75 for all three days, which includes five concerts, workshops and jamming.
Cost for the three days without workshops is $55 (five workshops and jamming).
Single-day cost is $35 for everything (two concerts, workshops and jamming) or single-day without workshops, $25 (includes two concerts and jamming).
Extra evening concert tickets are $15 per person or $45 for the family.
Day concert tickets are $10 each.
For the complete package for a large family (mom, dad and the kids), the cost is $150.
“We don’t do much advertising for the festival — it’s all word of mouth. We always hear very positive reports from attendees and other musicians who have talked to others. We hear nothing but good things and we believe that is the highest compliment we can receive since they are from performers leaving Palestine and spreading the word,” Margaret said.
Besides dulcimers, organizers say one attendee’s husband is really good on the harmonica — so those who are wanting lessons should bring their harmonicas.
“We will have extra dulcimers for those who just want an introduction. We have instructors for every instrument,” Margaret said.
Classes haven’t been laid out in advance — attendees will be able to fill up classes on the spot and it’s not unusual for more classes to form throughout the days of the festivals as needed or upon request.
“We always say if you didn’t get what you need out of the festival it’s because you didn’t ask,” Margaret said. “Speak up and let us know what you are interested in.”
For more information about the dulcimer festival, visit www.oldpalmusic.com or call the museum at 903-723-1914.