News Column

Learning is main theme at music festival

July 15, 2013

YellowBrix

July 15--For five years Mike Andrews of Maidencreek Township has been inviting people to celebrate and learn Appalachian music from those who love it.

"This is different from any other music festival; it is a festival of learning," Andrews said. "You can take classes here and enjoy concerts in the evening and it's cheaper than therapy."

The sound of fiddles and the calls of yodelers echoed through Maier's Grove in Maidencreek on Sunday afternoon, as enthusiasts of music from a bygone era shared knowledge of instruments, music and dance at the Old Time Music Festival.

The event drew a small but enthusiastic crowd of people who preserve the mountain music that characterizes Appalachian culture.

Andrews and fellow organizer Tom Druckenmiller of Allentown said the festival emphasizes collaboration.

"We all have gone to other folk festivals and their workshops weren't workshops, they were little performances," Druckenmiller said. "People here can bring their instruments and actually play together."

He said the beauty of the music is its inclusive nature.

Instruments were scarce in Appalachia during the era of Scots-Irish immigration in the 18th and 19th centuries, but musicians with a wide variety of skills collaborated to create the truly American folk music.

"It is a very social music," said Druckenmiller, who also led a banjo class. "You can have a jam session with more than 20 people playing and no one steps on anyone's toes."

The event drew people from out of state and other counties, like dulcimer player Jennifer Schaffer of Coopersburg, Lehigh County.

"A couple of years ago I heard the dulcimer on the Internet," said Schaffer, 50. "I thought I would try it and it was pretty easy to learn. "I didn't have to work hard to get better at it, so there was a lot of quick satisfaction with learning the dulcimer than with other instruments."

Schaffer was there with her two daughters Elise, 15, and Nicole, 11, who both play old-time instruments as well.

Druckenmiller said sharing old-time music with younger generations is vital.

"It isn't as popular as bluegrass or popular country, but more people are getting introduced and becoming involved in the music," he said. "If you don't play these songs they are going to die."

Contact Anthony Orozco: 610-371-5015 or aorozco@readingeagle.com.

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(c)2013 the Reading Eagle (Reading, Pa.)

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