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Under the Dogwoods
  • Artist: Steven K. Smith
  • Label: CD Baby
  • UPC: 783707192109
  • Item #: SRD719210
  • Genre: Folk
  • Release Date: 11/29/2005
  • This product is a special order
Price: $22.20
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Under the Dogwoods on CD

Steven K. Smith is an instrumentalist on the Mountain Dulcimer who has been learning playing, composing and teaching since 1983. His introduction to the dulcimer occurred a few years earlier, however, in 1977, when his brother Dave had bought one at a craft fair. It had been painted bicentennial red, white and blue, complete with star-shaped sound holes. "I guess he got a good deal on it," Steve recalls. He was entranced by the sound and deceptive simplicity of the instrument, but at the time he was working toward an Engineering degree and didn't think he had the time to learn a new instrument. None the less, about a year later he saw dulcimer kit at another craft fair and bought it. Over the next year or so, Steve admits that he did, "a really bad job" of building that instrument. It was good enough to get him hooked, though. At the time he didn't have anyone else nearby to compare it to, and so was blissfully unaware of it's short comings. When the music didn't sound quite right, he assumed he needed more practice. In 1984 he attended a gathering in Germantown OH, where Jerry Rockwell was teaching. At the open stage on Saturday night Steve made his first public performance as a dulcimer player. He played the Michael Cross tune, "The Scotsman's Kilt" and one of his own compositions called "Song for Albert." Afterwards Jerry commented that he thought his piece was, "very nice, but you have to DO something about that dulcimer you play. He eventually got better instruments and got better at playing them. He won the grand prize at the Bob Evans Farm contest in 1986, and was the Mid-East regional champion on the mountain dulcimer in 1990. His first cassette release was in 1991, and "Under the Dogwoods" is his fourth CD release. Although the Mountain Dulcimer is usually thought of as an Appalachian folk instrument, Steve doesn't limit himself to that genre. The pieces on this album come largely from the musical environment of the Ohio Renaissance Festival, where Steve has been a regular performer since 1992. English country dance tunes and Irish harp tunes are mixed with some of Steve's original compositions, and a couple of improvisations. This is not a period reenactment album, however. While Steve keeps in mind the tradition of the music, he adds his own stamp on it as well. He's added some gentle synthesizer backup for several of the tunes, and he's ably assisted by Jerry Rockwell on dulcimer and guitar on some of the pieces as well. Jerry did the production work for the album, and while Steve says he "really cracked the whip over me," he also says, "it paid off in the music." In the end, that's where it counts.

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