Monday, April 13, 2009

Brian the Folk Singer...

We had a wonderful Easter weekend and spent much of it in St Augustine, Florida. One of the most exciting aspects of the trip was a chance encounter with a Dulcimer player. We happened to be sitting in a park having a late afternoon lunch and could hear music in the distance.

As always, click each photo for a better view

It was a strange yet wonderful sound and we wandered over to listen. It seems this musician (we found out later his name was Brian or "Brian the Folksinger") had just joined in with some street musicians and was playing this strange instrument called a Hammered Dulcimer. I have seen a dulcimer before but never one like this. According to Brian his is a 5 octave solid body electric Hammered Dulcimer. Take a look below to see what that looks like...

I was really captivated by both the sound of the instrument and the folk-reggae songs Brian sang while he played, his voice has a haunting quality to it. You could tell he was quite versed on this dulcimer by the way he was able to walk up to a group of guys he had never met and start playing music that made you want to tap your feet and just feel happy. And I will add I have never met anyone who was as friendly or as cordial as Brian before and after playing his music.

I later did a little research and discovered the Dulcimer is an instrument that is common to almost every culture, just under a different name; and Brian's was really unusual in that they normally only go as high as three octave. Second, it seems the hammered dulcimer is experiencing a revival by a number of performers including the Blue Man Group. If you get a chance by all means visit Brian's website to learn more about the man and his music.

Look over the instrument and let me know if you are aware of a similar instrument from your culture and it's name.

I have included a video clip of the music that got our attention and ask that you keep in mind it was recorded in an open park in addition to it being a windy day. Despite those disclaimers it is still beautiful music. Enjoy!


  1. lovely music ! make me dance !

  2. Yes, lovely music indeed. I wish I could have been there myself!

  3. Seems so strange instruments...looks like the Gayageum..."A twelve- stringed Korean harp"...

  4. Nomore,

    I looked up the Gayageum on wikipedia and you are right it does look like the Korean harp!!


  5. More on the dulcimer at

  6. Brian is quite the unique person. The pickups he uses (that make it an "electric" dulcimer aren't manufactured anywhere you can buy them. He winds them himself using a contraption that uses the motor from the second hand of a clock, and if I'm not mistaken a sewing machine motor. Some of them are 6" in length, or more, and use more than 10,000' of copper wire. That's about two miles' worth! A lot of the technology that went into building that gear, he developed himself. I'm glad you stopped to listen!

  7. Brian came to my school in Eagle River, Alaska wanting to share his music with my students a few years back. He spent two days singing and performing with his dulcimer. All my students were transfixed with his songs and stories. The fifth and sixth graders were engaged: his music and stories are authentic. Brian's skill was beyond the scope of professional!

  8. Hi, it's a very great blog.
    I could tell how much efforts you've taken on it.
    Keep doing!

  9. I've known Brian for 10+ years.I work with many musicians in Alaska in my job as a sound tech and I can truly say he is completely given over to his Muse.Very few feel the vibrations of the world that he does.I'm truly glad that other people have the chance to experience,not just listen,to him.