Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 6 November 1927

A dose of mountain dulcimer history throughout the year

Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 6 November 1927

Postby dbennett » Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:45 am

Ralph Lee Smith was born in Cheyney, Pennsylvania. Ralph is widely regarded as the foremost authority on the dulcimer’s history.

I asked Ralph about his military service and he told me that he graduated from Swarthmore College in June 1951, and about December of that same year he joined the United States Air Force Reserve and requested active duty. Ralph served on active duty from January 1952 to August 1953. Ralph also told me that at the conclusion of the Korean War, he was released from active duty and returned to the Reservse. In 1957 he was discharged from the Reserves.

The July 2013 issue of the Swarthmore College Bulletin quotes RLS: "After graduating from Swarthmore in 1951 and serving in the Air Force, I moved to New York. In 1957, I rented a one-room apartment at 21 Jones St., in the heart of Greenwich Village for $78 a month. My timing was fortunate. In 1957, Greenwich Village was poised to become the national and world epicenter of the post–World War II folk-music revival. I had played folk music at Swarthmore, and I happily jumped aboard." It was in that neighborhood that he first heard the dulcimer played by Jean Ritchie and soon after he bought a dulcimer for $30 at Izzy Young’s Folklore Center, the shop that was the focal point for the folk revival. Ralph lived there throughout the 1960s. For more on this period read his book, “Greenwich Village: The Happy Folk Singing Days.”

By the end of the 1960s, having become an excellent dulcimer player himself, his interest in the history of the mountain dulcimer grew, and as a result he has written many books about the history of the mountain dulcimer and dulcimer makers.

Ralph has been honored to demonstrate and play his dulcimers in many prestigious venues, including at the White House on May 15, 1978. He has also played and conducted demonstrations at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, the Mountain Heritage Center. That of course is not counting all the colleges, folk festivals, folk music clubs and dulcimer clubs, civic groups, and historic sites he has performed and taught at.

Visit Ralph at http://www.ralphleesmith.com/
smith ralph lee.jpg
Smith Ralph Lee4.JPG
Last edited by dbennett on Mon Nov 06, 2017 9:21 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 6 November 1927

Postby dbennett » Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:45 am

Ralph plays Sourwood Mountain on his Charles Prichard dulcimer made about 1890
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Re: Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 6 November 1927

Postby dbennett » Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:46 am

Ralph Lee Smith gives a dulcimer history lesson
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Re: Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 6 November 1927

Postby dbennett » Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:47 am

Podcast Interview Artisan Ancestors: Episode 4: Appalachian Dulcimer Traditions
http://www.artisanancestors.com/2010/10/08/episode-4-appalachian-dulcimer-traditions/
(I'm not sure, it may start about the 8 minute mark)
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Re: Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 6 November 1927

Postby dbennett » Mon Nov 06, 2017 6:00 am

Ralph Lee Smith and I at the Crooked Road Dulcimer Festival in 2014
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Re: Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 6 November 1927

Postby dbennett » Mon Nov 06, 2017 6:48 am

Smith Ralph Lee3.JPG
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Re: Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 6 November 1927

Postby dbennett » Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:06 pm

Ralph's recent Face Book post (note: I believe he meant Korean War, not WWII)
Ralph Lee Smith Birthday Note.PNG
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Re: Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 6 November 1927

Postby danc9 » Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:13 pm

Happiest Birthday Ralph!!!
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Re: Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 6 November 1927

Postby kwl » Mon Nov 06, 2017 6:48 pm

Here is Ralph holding a PA German zither I built while I hold his C.N. Prichard dulcimer.

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