JFS #154 The Walt Michael Interview



String instruments of the old Appalachian hootenanny. The banjo, the fiddle, the mandolin an upright bass and the hammered dulcimer.

A stringed musical instrument with the strings stretched over a trapezoidal sounding board.

The player uses mallet hammers to strike the strings on the dulcimer in combination with the zither or oud in the timeless countries of Iran and China.

My guest today has redefined the settings in which a hammered dulcimer can be played in. An old folkie from Western Maryland he is as versed in country bluegrass as he is with Celtic Tunes as he is with jazz.

He comes from a hill where there is common ground. A place around the mason Dixon line where Peter Rowan and David Dawg Grisman, Steven Stills and other revivalists go to spread the language of music. Playing in tongues, moving beyond the spoken language and forming a unit whose collective spiritual mantra is to support each other.

You gotta go fishing once and awhile and my guest does mentoring younger cats and being able to relate to the poverty, abuse and neglect that many performers carry. Especially those who have recently come back from serving our country. Coming back after two tours overseas and being deported.....not given real meaningful opportunities to combat PTSD.

My guest knows the poverty of Appalachia and the traumas of younger war veterans and gives back to his country by helping cross sections of our people get back on their feet and grow through the arts.

His 100lbs hammered dulcimer vibrates with an improvisational ring swinging from one octave to another just like ringing a bell with those mallets acting as the percussive driver of soul music.

My guest today is the founder of "Common Ground On The Hill," in Maryland which over the last twenty years has sought to bring together artists, writers, journalists, dancers and singers to perform and teach kids. He is a virtuoso of the hammered dulcimer performing at the  Winter Olympics, Presidential ceremonies, The Tonight Show, Tennessee Fiddle Competitions and the coal camps near the Blue Ridge Mountains.

He is resident artist @ McDaniel College and knows that any movements around social change are spurred on by finding common ground through the arts and culture.

Walt Michaels welcome to the JFS


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