Featured teaching artist, Mountain Dulcimer
From Warren, Rhode Island, award-winning musician, vocalist, writer, and dancer, Aubrey Atwater presents captivating programs of folk music, dance, and narration. Aubrey is in great demand for performances and classes and has performed throughout the United States as well as England, Ireland, and Canada. She sings and plays the mountain dulcimer, old-time banjo, guitar, mandolin, and Irish tin whistle, and thrills audiences with highly percussive traditional clogging. In a scholarly, yet humorous way, Aubrey conveys the heritage behind traditional folk music and dance, showing a deep passion and understanding of folk history and its key players.
Aubrey is particularly well-known as a mountain dulcimer player and teacher throughout the US and beyond. She offers a wide variety of unique workshops, uses over twenty-five mountain dulcimer tunings, and plays in both deeply traditional as well as modern and innovative styles. She counts long-time friend and mentor Jean Ritchie (1922-2015) as a great influence in her musical and personal life. Part of the acclaimed duo Atwater-Donnelly, Aubrey and her husband Elwood Donnelly perform with up to 7 other band members and have 12 recordings and 7 books to their credit.
Featured Teaching Artist, Hammer Dulcimer
Ilace Mears grew up playing classical violin and piano. Despite a fulfilling career in Early Childhood Education, she had a (mild) mid-life crisis in 2006, bought her first hammered dulcimer, and learned to play approximately three chords – and about that many tunes.
Now she knows several more chords and many more tunes. She also has lots of new friends and a mantel full of trophies, including a 2016 National Champion one! She has enjoyed sharing her passion for this unique instrument with students at festivals from Michigan to Arkansas, Ohio and Kentucky to New Mexico.
For the last ten years, she has been delighted to entertain and enlighten folks in Southwest Missouri, especially those visiting The Butterfly Palace in Branson, where she plays two days a week.
Ilace plays fiddle tunes with enthusiasm, hymns with joy, Celtic because it’s in her bones, Bach because it’s in her blood, and vintage show tunes because she can! Her three album projects include “Peace Like a River;” “Tidings of Peace, Comfort, and Joy;” and “Flights of Fancy.” She’s also published almost 30 arrangements for three (or more) hammered dulcimers (or compatible instruments). And – one of her life goals is to make sure the tune “Roscoe” is played at every jam!
Mountain Dulcimer & Songwriting
Heidi Muller is an award-winning singer-songwriter, guitarist and mountain dulcimer player. She started playing dulcimer in 1984, first influenced by the 4-equidistant-string style of Lorraine Hammond, till she discovered old-time music and started playing and teaching 3-string fiddle tunes. Living in Seattle, she gave workshops across the Pacific Northwest for fifteen years before moving to New Jersey and then West Virginia. There she taught dulcimer and guitar in schools and residency programs. She soon became a popular instructor at the Ohio Valley Gathering, Kentucky Music Week, Dulcimer Chautauqua on the Wabash, Gebhard Woods, and many other events. Described by Dulcimer Players’ News as “one of the dulcimer community’s best songwriters and performers,” her original waltz “Leaving the Methow” was featured on the Masters of the Mountain Dulcimer, Volume Two recording.
Heidi has published nine dulcimer tune books of traditional and contemporary music, including fiddle tunes, duet arrangements, holiday carols, hymns, waltzes and two volumes of songs by Bill Staines (writer of “River”). She also has nine CDs, including Dulcimer Moon and three others recorded with her partner, Bob Webb. Her books and CDs are available from www.heidimuller.com
Heidi offers online dulcimer lessons and workshops and gives virtual performances with Bob Webb from their home studio in Joseph, Oregon. They have also hosted the annual mountain dulcimer camp, Dulcimer Week in the Wallowas, since 2011. Camp information can be found at www.wallowadulcimer.com
Mountain & Hammer Dulcimers
Celebrating 40 Dulcimer-Filled Years, Steve Eulberg continues to produce the “Smile inducing, toe-tapping, thought-provoking folkgrass” which is how reviewers describe this award-winning instrumentalist and songwriter’s music. He weaves together age-old songs and tunes with new melodies and contemporary lyrics accompanied by dulcimers and more. His 2019 recording, Between the Tracks, has him returning to his guitar roots with a collection of original fingerstyle compositions.
“I live for the ‘aha!’ experiences that people have and am dedicated to helping people enjoy their musical explorations on their instruments and share them with others,” Eulberg says. Students respond enthusiastically to his engaging style and warm sense of humor, making him in demand at festivals across the USA.
Award-winner in the national mountain dulcimer contest at Winfield, he is also a multiple finalist in the national hammered dulcimer contest. His music has been included in the Masters of the Mountain Dulcimer Compilations, Great Players of the Mountain Dulcimer, and has been featured on PBS’ RoadTrip Nation, United Airlines Inflight Audio and NPR. He tours as a solo performer and with the duos Fiddle Whamdiddle (with Vi Wickam) and Steve & Erin Mae (with Erin Mae Lewis).
Active in the San Francisco Chapter of NARAS (Grammys), Locals 6 & 1000 AFM (Traveling Musicians), Eulberg owns Owl Mountain Music, Inc., was the first guitar instructor on JamPlay.com, plus co-owner and teacher at dulcimercrossing.com.
Erin Mae Lewis
Deborah “DJ” Hamouris
Executive Director & Founder
Standard & Baritone Mountain Dulcimer
Deborah (DJ to her friends) is a musician, songwriter, teacher, recording artist, and community music organizer. She teaches mountain dulcimer at Berkeley’s Freight & Salvage and in her Oakland home. Deborah founded the Berkeley Dulcimer Gathering at The Freight in 2013, and produced the first online dulcimer festival in May 2020. With Steve Eulberg, she co-founded the Berkeley Dulcimer Orchestra in 2014 , which finished it’s 7th season virtually! Musically versatile, she performs as both a jazz vocalist as well as a traditionally-influenced songsmith on her dulcimer.
DJ has 7 recordings, including two collaborations with renowned guitarist, Mimi Fox.. “Indian Summer,” a book of her music and original arrangements was released in 2019 celebrating 40 years of dulcimer love.
DJ lives in Oakland, enjoying a 1906 craftsman cottage with her husband and music partner, Buffalo.
Dusty grew up strumming guitar and singing “Kum Ba Ya” and “Blowin’ in the Wind” before it was a cliché. A professional historian, Dusty discovered the dulcimer several years ago and has been doing his best to make up for lost time. He founded River City Dulcimers, a group of musical friends that meets monthly in Sacramento and is also a Moderator at the popular website Friends of the Mountain Dulcimer. Dusty has been a regular at folk music events around Northern California, currently offers private lessons at The Strum Shop in Roseville, and has completed two books of mountain dulcimer tablature: Lullabies from Around the World for the beginning player and Songs of Old Albion & Erin: Ballads, Airs, and Dances from the 16th to the 18th Centuries with intermediate-level arrangements of tunes from the early modern British Isles. His lessons, arrangements, and compositions combine a respect for traditional sounds with a modern, blues-influenced sensibility.
Kay has been involved with music all her life. She started out with flute and got her bachelor’s degree in music education. When jaw issues made playing flute a problem she went looking for a new instrument. A few years on the celtic harp and then a few on the hammer dulcimer ended when Kay found her true love, the mountain dulcimer. She began teaching dulcimer in Los Osos (near San Luis Obispo) when she couldn’t find people to play with. Now there is a thriving small mountain dulcimer group meeting weekly on the California Central Coast! Her fellow dulcimer players range in age from 3 to mid-80s, though the seniors definitely tip the scale.