Monday, February 2, 2015

THANK YOU! Get Ready For 2016!

The 3rd Annual Florida Gulf Coast Dulcimer Retreat was a tremendous success and a total blast! People from all across the country converged on Homosassa Springs, Florida for a truly unique music retreat that has gained a reputation for its laid-back vibe, awesome interactions and gorgeous natural setting.

This page has been updated with a new registration button to the right - it is now set to receive registrations for 2016!  The price will remain at $129.  Returning will be instructors/performers Bing Futch, Richard Ash, Guy George and Sharrie George.  We will once again be at the Homosassa Riverside Resort and the new dates are February 25th - 28th, 2016.  We'll also, once again, be making the trip to Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground for our traditional post-retreat experience at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue on Monday, February 29th.

Watch this site for workshop information and other details, but do plan on joining us for a one-of-a-kind event that has people raving about its joyful pleasures!

We had a great time with everyone who attended this year's event.  Huge thanks to the Homosassa Riverside Resort and Homosassa River RV Resort.  Thanks also to Folkcraft Instruments for sponsoring the event and to Jae Futch for administrative and hospitality services.  Our warmest thanks to those who helped out during the week and to everyone who came out to share the fun - THANK YOU for making this the best year yet!  We're already looking forward, one year ahead, to our 4th annual retreat.  Thanks again and get your registrations and reservations in early!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Just Two Weeks Away!

We're getting down to the wire as the 3rd Annual Florida Gulf Coast Dulcimer Retreat Approaches! There are now only ten registration slots available, so if you're thinking about joining us, grab yourself a spot and then get ready for a ton of fun!

Time's also running out on availability on this year's t-shirt.  Contact for more info.

Hope to see you soon!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Don't Miss Out!

As of today, there are only 25 SPOTS LEFT for registration at the retreat.  If you haven't registered yet, you're this close to missing out on one of the most fun, relaxing and informative dulcimer events ever!  In about one month, we'll return to beautiful Homosassa, Florida where time has seemingly stood still for decades.  Life there is tranquil, with the beautiful Homosassa River serving as the centerpiece for all of the wildlife, recreational activities and, of course, music.  Over the course of four days at the Homosassa Riverside Resort, we offer 27 workshops in mountain dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, steel drum, pennywhistle, Native American flute, ukulele, music theory, performance and more!  You'll also have a chance to join the Manatee Orchestra, a mixed-instrument ensemble that actually is the opening act for our big Saturday night concert!  There will also be lots of jamming, including our traditional Friday night showcase set at the Homosassa River RV Resort and Campground.

For this retreat, our classroom will be located in a beautiful setting; a large, bright room with windows that look out onto the river and Monkey Island.  Vending will be set up in the Manatee Ballroom where workshops have been held the past two years and, once again, event sponsor Richard Ash of Folkcraft Instruments will have a large display of dulcimers, ukuleles and more. Guy & Sharrie George will also have their ukuleles, pennywhistles, steel drums and other assorted instruments.  I'll have Native American flutes from High Spirits on-hand and all of the instructors will have their books, CDs, DVDs and other media for sale to educate, entertain and send you home with some souvenirs to go along with your sweet memories of the retreat!

Whether you use your free time to go fishing, kayaking, snorkeling or swimming with manatees, you'll find plenty to do in the area or you can chill out and enjoy a beverage at the Monkey Bar or Yardarm Lounge.  The Riverside Crab House is a full-service restaurant serving lunch and dinner daily and there are many charming eateries within a couple of minutes of the Homosassa Riverside Resort where you can enjoy breakfast, snacks or pick up something to nosh on back at your pad.

Don't forget to make your reservation for lodging at either the Homosassa Riverside Resort or the Homosassa River RV Resort and Campground, both of which are offering special discounts if you mention the retreat when arranging your stay.  With everything taking place at the Riverside Resort, and the RV resort just a minute away, you're never far from the center of the action!

Don't delay!  In just one month, we'll once again be making wonderful music, relaxing in Old Florida splendor and having a blast with family, friends and floating aquatic mammals.  Use the links on the right to register, access the web sites for lodging and explore the workshops and schedule.  It's four days of fun that you won't want to miss!

Looking forward to seeing you soon!

All my best,


P.S.  We have already booked our reservation for the traditional post-retreat dinner at Walt Disney World's Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, a fantastic all-you-can-eat homestyle dinner featuring a rip-roarin' and utterly charming show that is one of the longest-running stage productions in history! However, you can still attend IF you can manage to get seats.  We'll be going to the 4 pm show on Monday, February 2nd.  We'll meet in Crockett Tavern at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground before the show and then head out to the beach afterwards to watch the "Wishes" fireworks show launched from the Magic Kingdom.  Always such a sweet way to end the retreat and spend some time with friends.  (Some of us will be going to the parks as well - the fun just never stops!)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

2015 Workshop Schedule!

All workshops will be in the Manatee Ballroom except where indicated.

8:30 am - 9:30 am - (Guy) Absolute Beginning Hammered Dulcimer 
9:45 am - 10:45 am - (Guy) Beginner HD - The Next Step
11 am - 12 pm - (Richard) Traditional Tunes From The Hills Of Appalachia (MD)
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm - (Richard) Don't Take This Class, It Will Make You Vomit (a.k.a. "Performance Techniques"
1:45 pm - 2:45 pm - (Bing) The Manatee Orchestra - Mountain Dulcimers (MD)
3 pm - 4 pm - (Guy) Manatee Orchestra for Hammered Dulcimer, Pennywhistle and Steel Drum! - Part I
4:15 pm - 5:15 pm - (Sharrie) Beginning Ukulele - Beginning Level 


8:30 am - 9:30 am -  (Bing) Taking A Bite Out Of Apple's Garageband
9:45 am - 10:45 am - (Bing) How To Play "Juke Joint Hen"
11 am - 12 pm - (Sharrie) Manatee Orchestra - Part I - All Levels Ukulele
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm - (Guy) Manatee Orchestra for Hammered Dulcimer, Pennywhistle and Steel Drum! - Part II 
1:45 pm - 2:45 pm - (Richard) Adding Variety To Your Right-Hand Strumming
3 pm - 4 pm - (Richard) Popular Songs That Are In The Public Domain
4:15 pm - 5:15 pm - (Guy) Steel Drum - Beginning Leve


8:30 am - 9:30 am - (Sharrie) Manatee Orchestra - Ukulele with other instruments - Part II 
9:45 am - 10:45 am - (Richard) How Dulcimers And Ukuleles Are Made
11 am - 12 pm - (Bing) A Spoonful Of Blues (MD)
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm - (Guy) Pennywhistle - Beginning Level (meet in the ballroom, then depending on class size, may relocate to another area)
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm - (Bing) Learning To Play Native American Flute (meet in the ballroom, then depending on class size, may relocate to another area)
1:45 pm - 2:45 pm - (Guy) Guy’s ‘Crazy’ Intermediate Pennywhistle
3 pm - 4 pm - (Guy and Sharrie) HD Intermediate and Ukulele Beyond Beginner - Hammered Dulcimer Meets the Ukulele; “Tin Pan Alley”
4:15 pm - 5:15 pm - (Bing, Guy, Sharrie) Manatee Orchestra REHEARSAL - All Instruments! 
The Manatee Orchestra will open up the Saturday evening concert at 7 pm


8:30 am - 9:30 am - (Bing) Introduction To Chromatic Mountain Dulcimer!
9:45 am - 10:45 am - (Bing) Practical Applications For Looping
11 am - 12 pm - (Guy) HD - All Levels - Creating More Than a Melody - Part I
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm - (Guy) HD - All Levels - Creating More Than a Melody - Part II
1:45 pm - 2:45 pm - (Richard) Playing "D" Tunes In G and in A
3 pm - 4 pm - (Sharrie) Edelweiss - Chord-Melody Strum Style 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Richard Ash's Bio and Workshops

Richard is the owner of Folkcraft Instruments, which is one of the oldest and most respected musical instrument manufacturers in the country. Folkcraft makes a variety of stringed and fretted instruments, including Appalachian dulcimer,hammered dulcimerbowed psalterykanteledulcilele, and ukulele.

Richard is a teacher, and holds a music education degree from The Ohio State University. Formerly a school band director, now he's an active dulcimer instructor.

Richard is also the organizer of three music festivals: The Dulcimer Gathering (for hammered dulcimer players); Indiana Dulcimer Festival (for Appalachian dulcimer players); and Midwest Uke Fest (for ukulele players).

And finally, Richard is a performer. You can hear him playing the dulcimer at events all over the country. From NAMM shows to dulcimer festivals, old-time music events to demonstration concerts in the Folkcraft concert hall, he's performed pretty much everywhere.

Don't Take This Class, It Will Make You Vomit (a.k.a. "Performance Techniques"): Sharing your music with an audience can be nervewracking, or it can be the highlight of your week. This class will help you share your music in a positive way. You'll get practical tips on how to overcome your stage fright, how to prepare for a performance, and how to have a good time while you're performing. Ideal for any skill level, and open to all instruments, this session won't make you sick to your stomach, really! It will make you into a better, more prepared performer, though! Bring your instrument - we'll be doing a bit of playing...

How Dulcimers And Ukuleles Are Made: Complete with videos to watch (instrument builders in action!), parts to see, and a comprehensive overview of modern instrument building. If you're a player, you'll enjoy seeing the work that goes into making a premium instrument. If you're a builder, you might get a few ideas that will help with your next project.

Traditional Tunes From The Hills Of Appalachia: We'll work on a variety of songs, a few you've heard of, and a few that will be new to you. Mostly in the noter drone style, these melodies are an important part of the history of the Appalachian dulcimer.

Playing "D"Tunes In G and in A: We'll work on changing the key of a tune - practically any tune - that you already know into another key. Without using a capo, you'll learn to take a song into two different tunings. This will give variety to your performances, add life to your set lists, and even make a vocal piece fit your range "just right".

Adding Variety To Your Right-Hand Strumming: Here's a chance to add some pizazz to the tunes you already know. Forget the bum-diddy pattern, lets go crazy and add some new life to your right hand strums. We'll work mostly with standard fiddle tunes, but we'll make them sound like new additions to your repertoire. This class is ideal for players with a steady (but perhaps dull?) right hand strum technique.

Popular Songs That Are In The Public Domain: Songs that are out of copyright, but performed by big-name, popular artists? Artists like Paul McCartney, Olivia Newton-John, Burl Ives, Barbra Streisand, The Animals, Elvis Presley, Metallica,
Led Zeppelin Johnny Cash, and more? Sure, no problem! Lots of handouts, lots of fun.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Guy & Sharrie George's Bio and Workshops

Guy George, from Cleveland, Ohio, is a rhythmic, melodic hammered dulcimer player with a definite jazz influence to his playing style. Guy comes from a background in jazz and performance on the saxophone, having studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston; honing his skills playing with many jazz influenced musicians in the Boston and New York area. He has settled outside Cleveland, Ohio and presently plays hammered dulcimer, tenor, alto and soprano saxophones, flute, steel drum and keyboard. He has made his name in the dulcimer world as a performer, instructor, author/publisher and recording artist.   

       He tours throughout the United States and Canada performing and recording and teaching workshops on the hammered dulcimer, steel drums, and penny whistle. His teaching style is relaxed and fun, as he teaches tunes of many different genres and styles.  In addition, he incorporates methods for more advanced practicing and playing techniques while simultaneously entertaining his students.  

       Guy has authored 13 books arranged for hammered dulcimer, steel drum, pennywhistle, and other instruments, which are distributed around the world through Gesani Publications, a company he and his wife, Sharrie, own and operate.  

In recent years, Sharrie George has emerged as a talented performer and instructor in her own right.  Her solid timing and clean rhythms have made her an important part of Guy's groove in more ways than one, plus she's fun and helps you work on what you need the most.

Guy’s Workshop Descriptions

1. Absolute Beginning Hammered Dulcimer - This is the class for you if you have never played a ham- mer dulcimer, but would like to try! Guy will show you step by step, the way to play beautiful music on this ex- citing, and timeless instrument. All the basics will be covered, from tuning and care of the dulcimer, to locating the notes and playing a simple melody. Don’t have a hammered dulcimer? A few free loaners will be available if you would like to “try before you buy”. (You may have to share)

2. Manatee Orchestra for HD - All levels - Learn parts and arrangements for our Manatee Orchestra with MD, PW, Ukes, Steel Drum, and other instruments!

3. Beginner HD - The Next Step - After you’ve learned the basics, learn some easy gospel tunes. Learn beau- tiful melodies and some simple harmonies.

4. HD - All Levels - Creating More Than a Melody - Part I - Find creative ways to spice up the melody using using basic skills like scales, harmonies, arpeggios, rhythmic patterns, and more. We’ll use a few jam tunes, waltzes, and other tunes to apply our magic. This is a 2 Part Class.

5. HD - All Levels - Creating More Than a Melody - Part II - Find creative ways to spice up the melody using using basic skills like scales, harmonies, arpeggios, rhythmic patterns, and more. We’ll use a few jam tunes, waltzes, and other tunes to apply our magic. This is a 2 Part Class.

6. HD - Intermediate Level - Hammered Dulcimer Meets the Ukulele; “Tin Pan Alley” - Learn a few Tin Pan Alley Greats, as we team up with the ukuleles for a fun way to sound great! We’ll learn arrangements of these tunes, and give the ukuleles some practice strumming and playing backup.

7. Manatee Orchestra for Hammered Dulcimer, Pennywhistle and Steel Drum! - Part I - All levels - Learn parts and arrangements for our Manatee Orchestra that will perform together with the ukuleles and mountain dulcimers for a great performance on Sat night! - This is a 2 part workshop.

8. Manatee Orchestra for Hammered Dulcimer, Pennywhistle and Steel Drum! - Part II - All levels - Learn parts and arrangements for our Manatee Orchestra that will perform together with the ukuleles and mountain dulcimers for a great performance on Sat night! - This is a 2 part workshop.

9. Steel Drum - Beginning Level - Learn how to play an authentic steel drum! We’ll have some Jumbie Jams available to try. Learn the basics and be playing melody and chords on this great island instrument! Great re- fresher if you haven’t played in a while.

10. Pennywhistle - Beginning Level - Learn how to play the easiest instrument to carry around! We’ll have you playing and sounding good in 2 keys in this first lesson! Inexpensive, great sounding “D” whistles will be available at our vending area.

11. Guy’s ‘Crazy’ Intermediate Pennywhistle - Not for Beginners! (But you are welcome to watch) Some review from last year, with new tunes and stuff! Chromatics, chords, technique, tone, breathing, tonguing, playing in different keys, different styles, tunes, and more! Jazz up your playing! Have a difficult tune? Squeaky notes? Bring it here! This class is designed to give you what you can’t get anywhere else!

Sharrie’s Workshop Descriptions

12. Beginning Ukulele - Join the Ukulele Craze and learn to play the Uke! Borrow a ukulele from us and learn a few great tunes, along with the basics, all in one workshop! We will have nice loaner ukuleles for you to try - and plenty to buy if you decide you can’t leave without one!

13. Manatee Orchestra - Part I - All Levels Ukulele - If you know the basic chords and strums, you’re ready to join the Manatee Orchestra! Parts for just past beginner and above - on any ukulele - baritones and U-basses welcome too!! We will learn melodies, strums and other accompaniment for several tunes to play in parts - with and without voices - and then we will join the rest of the Manatee Orchestra later for a GREAT perform- ance! A fun way to learn and have fun on the uke! This is a 2 part workshop.


14. Ukulele Meets the Hammered Dulcimer - Beyond Beginner Ukulele and above - We will team up with the hammered dulcimer players and back them up as we all learn a few fun Tin Pan Alley tunes, with strums and singing and a few new chords. Good practice for smoother chord changes too!

15. Edelweiss - Chord-Melody strum style - Intermediate/Advanced - Learn the basics about playing chord- melody on the ukulele as we learn a beautiful version of this famous waltz. We will be learning chords up the neck on the uke, where our melody notes are, a few basic picking patterns, and much more!

16. Manatee Orchestra - Ukulele with other instruments - Part II Practice parts for our Manatee Orchestra that will perform together with the hammered and mountain dulcimers, steel drum and pennywhistles! - This is a 2 part workshop. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Bing Futch's Bio and Workshops

Bing Futch - Festival Co-Founder
Performer and Instructor

With a big smile and a wild toss of his dreadlocks, Bing Futch kicks off every performance with a buoyant energy that is inviting and innervating. Using Appalachian mountain dulcimer, Native American flute, ukulele, drums and electronic effects, he deftly navigates the varied waters of folk and pop with passion, wit and a genuinely huge heart for sharing music with a crowd. Known for his musical shape-shifting, Futch switches the channels on style with every new song, sung in a limber tenor voice and woven together with the other instruments. His casual way with any audience, coupled with a fierce originality on the lesser known mountain dulcimer, makes each show a one-of-a-kind and good-timing romp. As a nationally touring solo performer he's headlined at such events as The Florida Folk Festival, Old Songs Festival, The Big Muddy, Kentucky Music Weekend and Common Ground On The Hill. With a strong love for traditional music, Futch has enjoyed a career on both sides of the folk and rock divide, first as guitarist for CCM post-punkers CRAZED BUNNYZ in 1986 and much later in 1999 as co-founder of MOHAVE on mountain dulcimer. That band, with bassist Mike Burney and drummer McGyver, took off after their debut performance at the House of Blues at Walt Disney World and over the course of the next seven years would become a crowd favorite and open for the likes of MOLLY HATCHET, ST. SOMEWHERE and THE CRESTS.
In 2006, Futch began performing solo at county fairs and festivals across the country, along the way opening for Grammy-award nominated artists Sam & Ruby, bluesman Scott Ainslie and sharing the stage with Grammy-award nominated act The Dixie Beeliners among others.
Futch's music has been featured in film and video productions, video game soundtracks and exhibits at the Orlando Museum of Art. He was composer and musical director for "The Jungle Book: A Musical Adaptation" which ran for 66 shows at Stage Left Theater in Orlando, Florida. He also contributed music to the soundtrack of The Castle of Miracles at Give Kids The World Village in Kissimmee, Florida.
When not performing, Futch can be found teaching music workshops at various festivals and colleges, presenting music education programs at schools and libraries and producing episodes of his video podcast "Dulcimerica" which has been viewed by over a million people worldwide and is currently in its seventh season.

Introduction To Chromatic Mountain Dulcimer! (MD)

This easy-to-digest workshop will get you understanding the chromatic mountain dulcimer not only as its own instrument but also as it relates to the diatonic mountain dulcimer (give or take a few frets.)  We'll work out of the DAD tuning and get familiar with the notes on the fretboard using reference frets and other visual tricks.  I'll not only demonstrate how to convert all of the chords that you already know from diatonic to chromatic but I'll also show you how to change those familiar shapes in order to get cool new extended chords and chord progressions.  Best yet, I'll get you over the hump of how to approach playing it by starting with tunes you already know and then dressing them up with the new options at our fingertips.   You'll have more than a passing relationship with the instrument by the end of this workshop! (Intermediate - Advanced)

A Spoonful Of Blues (MD)

Brand new workshop but perfect for those who want to learn the blues on the mountain dulcimer.  We'll go quickly through the basics of Delta blues on the instrument and then shift focus to the one-chord modal strut of the song "Spoonful" which has been recorded by Howlin' Wolf, Etta James and Cream.  We're gonna do a whole lot of playing in the key of E, first barreing and then capoing at the first fret, so don't forget your capos and get ready to have some juke jointin' time with some blues on the mountain dulcimer!  (Intermediate)

Learning To Play Native American Flute

This beautiful, haunting and expressive instrument dates back 4000 years on the North American continent. Originally used in courtship and later in ceremonies and, more recently, ensemble performance, the Native American flute now enjoys great popularity in all types of music. You'll be surprised at just how easy it is to play! In this workshop, you'll learn basics: flute anatomy, how to hold it, breath control, major and minor scales, ornamentation techniques and how to discover your very own spirit song. Must have a six-hole Native American flute in the key of "B minor." You can purchase one from Ray Wood at Island Flutes. Be sure to tell him it's for Bing's workshop. (All Skill Levels)

The Manatee Orchestra - Mountain Dulcimers (MD)

Back by popular demand!  Everyone had such a great time last year performing in the Saturday evening concert (even if half the audience was on stage) so we're going to do it again this year with three brand new songs that will feature mountain dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, pennywhistle, steel drums and ukuleles on stage at the Saturday evening concert. The Manatee Orchestra will refuse no player, all skill levels are welcome.  This session is specifically for the mountain dulcimers.  Check the schedule for the hammered dulcimer, pennywhistle, steel drum and ukulele sessions. (Beginner - Advanced)  

Taking A Bite Out Of Apple's Garageband

Also back by popular demand!  This was a very crowded session, so we're preparing this time with a big screen and pro audio so you can really get the most out of this informative session. Many of you have Mac laptops or desktops with Garageband pre-loaded on there.  Some of you are already mucking around with it while others aren't sure where to begin.  In this workshop, I'll demystify Garageband using a video screen so everyone can see the details.  What kind of equipment do you need?  What all can you do?  What are plug-ins and why are they so important?  What's a loop and how do you use it?  Everything from basic recording to advanced sound equalization and mixing techniques.  If you've ever wanted to record your own albums you'll have a good head start by the end of this class!  Laptops running the latest version of Garageband are encouraged but not required. If you're not running Apple, the basic instruction applies, no matter what DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) you're using. (Beginner - Advanced) 

How To Play "Juke Joint Hen"

Alright, you asked for it.  This workshop will endeavor to teach you how to play my version of "Cluck Old Hen" which I call "Juke Joint Hen."  It's on "Dulcimerica: Volume 2" and I've played it on-stage with the likes of Stephen Seifert and Butch Ross; it's one of my most requested tunes and many people have given their own spin on my roadhouse blues approach to this ancient old tune.  In any case, I'll teach you how I do it currently, note-for-note, with all the bells and whistles including bends, staccato accents, rapid slides, one-handed tapping, right and left hand palm muting and, finally, a two-octave solo on the bass string.  This workshop will not @#$%! around; we will be getting after it so bring your game face and a dulcimer with a 1 1/2 fret (you'll need it for the walking bass.  Oh. Yeah.) (Advanced)

Practical Applications For Looping

This is a new workshop that ties together the performance aspect of looping with the practice time at home aspect, which is key to working out arrangements, songwriting, practicing solos or simply creating walls of sound just for the simple exploration of it. I'll also cover performing with a looper, some basic bullet points, details you might've missed, as you attempt to work the machine into your set (take it from someone who has, and continues to, run that ragged road.)  If you take this workshop, you must know what a looper is.  If you've got one, bring it and a small battery-operated amplifier (can be something like a Roland Micro-Cube for $120 or even the little Danelectro Honeytone N-10 Mini Amps for $20) because part of understanding your looper pedal is using it.  I'll have my rig set up for those who want to give it a go, which is always fun the first time someone gets to layer tracks and play off of your self.  No wonder more and more people are starting to loop!  (All Skill Levels)