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FOD Dulcimer Boomer: Lois Hornbostel

The research for David's early dulcimer playing years for Pluck was greatly facilitated by the wonderful Lois Hornbostel. Luckily for me, and for anyone else interested in exploring dulcimer history of the seventies and beyond, Lois was (and is) an active chronicler of the the times with details I would not have found or learned about without her work. In addition to being a master dulcimer player, Lois was a prolific writer of those times; I encountered her name everywhere in original documents and in Dulcimer Player News as I searched for period-specific information.

Lois's picture arrived at my desk before we ever spoke, thanks to Bonnie Carol. I looked at it often, and finally called her. Lois explained:

Lois Hornbostel playing the Schillings' first Mountain Dulcimer festival in 1976 in Cosby, Tennessee at the Folklife Center of the Smokies.Cos
1976 Photo of Lois Hornbostel at the Schillings' Dulcimer Festival. Note the cassette recorder on the ground in front of her. Everyone recorded players to learn new songs. Courtesy of Bonnie Carol and Lois Hornbostel

I believe it was in 1976 at the first Cosby, TN Dulcimer & Harp Convention, produced by Jean & Lee Schilling. A few months ago I wrote a Facebook post citing many of my memories and the people who became my friends.

I was probably playing something Irish because that was what I played in NYC traditional Irish jams every week. That experience eventually led me to write my first book, The Irish Dulcimer. My Cosby friends encouraged me to write it, and David suggested I arrange the harp tune “Give Me Your Hand.” I did that and it’s in the book and was on my first CD, “Vive le Dulcimer.”

The right side of the photo seems to be trimmed. It originally had more of musician Jerry Rockwell besides his boots.

Cosby was 3-4 days long. I flew down from NJ, where I lived. You may have been to this town in the Great Smoky Mountains, near Gatlinburg. The mountains are very beautiful. Schillings had a modest home and land called the Folklife Center of the Smokies, which included a dulcimer building shop and sales area. We had to climb up a pretty steep hill to get to the “primitive camping” and playing area. They had organized workshops and built a stage in a natural amphitheater at the top of the hill. That's where I met David Schnaufer. His favorite tune to play then was “Rickett’s Hornpipe.” So many delightful dulcimer players, historians and builders were there - Ralph Lee Smith, Keith Young, Bonnie Carol, and many more.

I have other stories about and including David ... I have a recording or two of him playing/singing at jams and photos from the 1989 Appalachian State University Dulcimer Playing Workshop that I directed. David taught our Advanced students there.

Like many of the leading players from the Dulcimer Boom, Lois's passion for playing is palpable, and her work made for great reading and listening. She is still out there, teaching, giving, and making the world a better place. Visit her website and on Facebook to contact Lois or learn more and to browse her books and CDs.

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