Butch Ross Returning Home to Perform Dulcimer Workshops and Concert

(Provided photo)

DUBOIS – Area native Butch Ross, a nationally-known performer on mountain dulcimer, will conduct four workshops and perform in concert, Friday, Dec. 7, at Christ Lutheran Church Multi-Purpose Room.

Christ Lutheran is located at 875 Sunflower Dr., just off Maple Avenue, in DuBois.

The day will open from 10:30 a.m. -11:30 a.m. with the workshop: “It’s All Cabbage Really,” suitable for novice and up.

“Boilin’ Cabbage Down” is one of the first songs most people learn to play on the mountain dulcimer, but it is the key to playing about 50,000 other tunes, as well. The workshop will explain how.

Three more workshops will follow the lunch break:

  • 1 p.m. -2 p.m., “Cabbage for Christmas,” suitable for novice and up will present chords and progressions that make Christmas tunes so fun and easy to learn.
  • 2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m., “Flat Pick, Strum, Half-strum,” suitable for intermediate and up to help develop a fluid and sophisticated (sounding) right hand strum without too much effort.
  • 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., “Beatles Tunes,” centering on learning the fun and catchy tunes of The Beatles, the legendary band from Liverpool.

Ross will perform in concert at 7 p.m. open to everyone. Cost for the day is $20 for one workshop; $35 for two workshops; or $50 for three or four workshops.

All price levels include admission to the concert. A pass the hat is scheduled for walk-ins to the concert.

Advance reservations may be made by e-mail at ginnyschott@gmail.com or by telephone at 814-371-4627.

Ross, born in Meadville and raised in Falls Creek, graduated from DuBois Area High School in 1986.

Now based in Chattanooga, Tenn., Ross has tackled everything from Radiohead to Bach and come away with a renewed appreciation for what the humble dulcimer is capable of. No genre is off-limits, nor is there a limit to what Ross has envisioned for this specific instrument.

The dulcimer is an unassuming thing, with a handful of strings and a history that feels embedded in the lineage of countless Appalachian musicians.

But Ross has taken it and made it something more, something remarkable and versatile. His music is born from his respect for its abilities, a respect born from the years he’s spent prying apart its pieces and discovering new sounds where none existed before.

It is this groundbreaking and iconoclastic approach that caused ukulele-virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro to comment, “Now I know what a dulcimer is supposed to sound like.”

Ross became intrigued with the instrument when he was given a mountain dulcimer as a birthday present.

At first, the instrument was a curiosity but before too long it became his instrument of choice. A chance meeting with musician, author and producer Robert Force (himself a dulcimer iconoclast) led to the 2005 release The Moonshiner’s Atlas and a complete change of focus.

Since then Ross has become an in-demand performer at folk and dulcimer festivals throughout the United States and Europe.

He’s performed at such festivals as Kentucky Music Week, the Central Ohio Folk Festival, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, the Lancaster (UK) Music and the prestigious Philadelphia Folk Festival.

Ross’ most recent release is called “Found Objects.” It’s a collection of original compositions, outside-the-box covers, original tunes, mashups and thoroughly unexpected arrangements of traditional songs.

An eclectic mix that led Times-Free Press reporter Joshua Pickard to call it “a sound both experienced and timeless, a result of its celebrated past and boundless future.”

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