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BJ Jordan

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  1. When I was a child I always wanted to play the guitar. My mother finally gave in and bought me a guitar which was as big as I was. I dragged it up and down the streets for one entire summer taking lessons from a college student who I know now was not someone who should have been teaching. His lack of patients and good instruction left me totally frustrated with learning how to play it. Moving on to the late sixties after giving up the guitar I went to visit my family in the hills of Kentucky where I heard the most beautiful song played by the Phipps Family on a mountain dulcimer. The song was Oh Beautiful Star of Bethlehem. I was totally fascinated with the instrument and didn't have any idea what it was. A short time later I went to a presentation at the local college and they featured a native Kentuckian whose name was Jean Ritchie. I was hooked on her story about how she grew up in the mountains with her large family and her love of old mountain songs. When she started to play and sing I got chills. I had heard some of these old melodies and songs growing up too. My dad would often sing or hum them while working around the house. My mother came from a family of fifteen children and my dad from eleven. Like Jean's family there were a lot of kids. They were both born in the mountains but left with the great southern migration north to find work. I was a kid who went back back and forth from Motown to country and old mountain music. I became bi-lingual and it just came naturally to switch between the two cultures. I started talking to Jean Ritchie and found out she was related to the Hall family. At the time I knew my dad's grandmother had been a Hall but that was all I knew about her. We tried to figure out if there was a connection but I was no help without knowing more about dad's family. Once Jean Ritchie started singing and playing I was totally lost. Those old tunes that just took me away to some place that seemed so familiar yet so unknown and mysterious. The moaning of the minor keys just touched my soul deep inside somewhere. I was becoming hooked like an addict sitting there and didn't know what was happening at the time. When I left at the end of her performance I knew I had to have one of those sweet instruments. I needed it. I secretly said to myself , you will never learn to play that instrument. My past guitar teacher had told me I was tone deaf and never had the talent to be able to master a stringed instrument. I thought I could always just hang the dulcimer on the wall if all else failed and use it as a conversation starter. Jean had said it was easy to play and somehow that's all it took. She was sincere and the college student not so much. So thanks to Jean Ritchie I went on a mission to buy my first dulcimer.. That was many dulcimers ago. I can honestly say that I play halfway decently and really don't care about what my first music teacher said anymore. Playing the dulcimer is a lot easier than playing a guitar. As long as you are having fun and enjoying the thing, just play it.
  2. Thank you to all those who put the site back up. I was so glad to see it back up and running. I learned a lot from the old site and hope to continue. The dulcimer community is the best! BJ Jordan
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