2017 Workshop Leaders

Cynthia Brissey is resident of Salem, WV and has attended nearly all Fort New Salem Dulcimer Weekends. She learned to play mountain dulcimer at various workshops in the region. She plays mostly for herself, but occasionally plays for church services. Cynthia is an instructor and lab coordinator for the Biology Department at West Virginia Wesleyan.

Phyllis Woods Brown is proud to come from a "musical" family!  Her earliest memories of childhood include always singing with her family. They sang in the car, around the campfire, and while chores were done. Phyllis credits her mother with her first introduction to harmonies; Phyllis' father played in dance bands from time to time. She spent hours of her pre-teen years sitting at her grandfather's organ, picking out melodies and chords and even writing her first tunes. It was inevitable that when Phyllis was 13 and found an old guitar sitting in the corner of the sun porch at her other grandparents' home that she would pick it up and never really look back. Music became her focus from that day on, and she started performing at the age of 15 for local school and church events. Phyllis studied Music Education at Tennessee Tech University in Tennessee, and was delighted when her father built both her first mountain dulcimer and hammered dulcimer.P hyllis has always enjoyed teaching others what she has learned, and has taught and  performed at numerous venues, ranging from city and county folk festivals, old-time festivals, weddings, fundraisers, Christmas celebrations,  church services and special events.

Jeff Fedan lives in Masontown, WV, just outside of Morgantown, WV, and learned to play the hammered dulcimer from his teacher and mentor, Patty Looman, who gave him the gift of music. He has been playing for nearly eighteen years, loving every minute of it. He is especially interested in the old time repertoire of north central West Virginia, the music of Worley Gardner, Russell Fluharty, and Patty Looman, and in preserving these tunes and the old-time traditions of the area.  Jeff is founder of PattyFest Inc., and PattyFest, an old-time music festival that has been honoring Patty Looman for sixteen years, and also helps organize the February Gardner Winter Music Festival, which has gone on forever.  He has conducted workshops at Dulci-More, the Gardner Winter Music Festival and PattyFest, and has several students to pass the music on to.  Jeff has had four cats names after notable hammered dulcimer players: Patty (Looman), Worley (Gardner), Russell (Fluharty) and Sam (Rizzetta); he has no cats names after himself.  Last and least, he is a drummer and tunes his spoons on a regular basis.

Bill Locke - For over fifty years Bill Locke has been entertaining audiences with his music which includes old-time dulcimer, guitar, and banjo, as well as ragtime guitar and spirituals. Bill grew up in the New England area and played in several clubs around Boston, New Hampshire, and Maine. Bill joined the United States Navy and served for 26 years. He then moved to the Pittsburgh area resuming his music and performing in Southwestern PA and in Wheeling WV. Recently Bill is most readily found at old-time and dulcimer festivals. He has played on the stage at Dulci-More for five years (often with his wife, Judy). 

Brett Ridgeway - Brett's philosophy is that "anyone can make music, regardless of age, musical ability or knowledge!” And his philosophy shows in responses to his workshops. He currently teaches hammered dulcimer, mountain dulcimer, bluegrass banjo, clawhammer banjo, beginner acoustic guitar and mandolin as well as several unique ALL INSTRUMENT workshops. Brett has authored and marketed a series of instructional CDs that display his friendly method of teaching the hammered dulcimer. He currently has a  lesson series available on YouTube and also teaches lessons via Skype and FaceTime. Brett's workshops offer a large draw. He had the largest class at the 2016 Dulcimer Funfest in Evart, Michigan and the largest classes at the Ohio Valley Gathering for the last two years.  A workshop in Tampa, Florida with 37 attendees, had one participant drive all the way from Texas for the three-hour workshop! His workshop in Knoxville, TN brought in folk from 10 states! Known from online teaching, one student drove from Miami, Florida to one of his workshops held in south-western Pennsylvania! There are a few reasons for this kind of draw but for the most part, it is because Brett loves to teach and he remembers what it was like to learn in an unpatient world. Brett tours alone promoting traditional American music and sometimes performs and teaches with Phyllis Woods Brown and is avaialable alone or as a duo.. He has released a total of eight recordings; (two of which were recorded with Phyllis) of which seven are currently available. Additionally, an original composition, "Gettysburgh Rain" written and performed by Brett Ridgeway is featured in the soundtrack of “The Path of the Wind”, a 2010 movie which features Wilford Brimley.

Jerry Rockwell is one of a handful of folk musicians who, since about 1970, have been national and international advocates for the mountain dulcimer. He is an accomplished player, teacher, and custom builder of this American folk instrument. His currently available recordings are “Favorite American Folktunes,” “The Blackbird and the Beggarman,” and “Nine Meditations for Dulcimer.” He has also written instructional texts for mountain dulcimer including “Dulcimer Solos volume II,” arrangements for intermediate level players; “Beginner's Tunebook in D-A-A and D-A-D,” with emphasis on rhythmic foundations; and “Music Theory and Chord Reference for the Mountain Dulcimer.” Jerry concentrated on music theory and composition at Ohio State University. He lives and works in the Appalachian foothills of SE Ohio, and regularly teaches mountain dulcimer at workshops across the country. www.jcrmusic.com

Bill Schilling has been singing and playing various folk instruments (at least 20 with variations of several) for over 40 years. He has performed for audiences of all ages in many settings from coast to coast. His high-energy performances may include songs, slide programs, and/or stories selected specifically for your group. His performances often involve members of your group with audience participation songs or activities. Bill often performs with others including Linda Sigismondi with whom he has recorded “Songs from Canal Days”. Since Bill believes that his music should be inclusive, he is involved in many groups which share music. A few of them are: Dulci-More: Folk & Traditional Musicians (Bill is the founder and leader (called Fearless Leader) of this group); the annual Dulci-More Festival (Bill is the director); the Canton Folk Song Society (Bill is one of the original members); the Dulcimer Society of Trumbull County (Bill has reorganized and leads this group); Folknet (Bill is a charter Executive Committee Member & past President); and Folk Music at Weatherbury Farm (Bill is one of the originators of this program and a workshop leader). His “Dulci-More Public Domain Songbooks” (in several variations) are used by clubs around the country. www.billschilling.org/
Linda Sigismondi is a mountain dulcimer player and folksinger from Gallipolis, Ohio. Her music includes traditional Appalachian tunes, Celtic tunes, folk dances, traditional and contemporary folk music, and original compositions that feature environmental themes. Linda has played at Fort New Salem, West Virginia, for the Harvest and Christmas Festivals for many years. She also organizes the music and workshops for the Fort New Salem Dulcimer Festival. Linda has taught workshops and performed at many folk music festivals in West Virginia, Ohio and New York. Linda has written several books (and companion CDs) of mountain dulcimer tab and has recorded a CD, "Songs from Canal Days" with Bill Schilling. www.lindasigismondi.com

Rich and Kathy Small are folk singers and instrumentalists from Canton, Ohio. They have performed regionally at many festivals and events as a duo and as members of the Canton Folk Song Society and Dulci-More Folk & Traditional Musicians. Their harmony singing of Appalachian Mountain Ballads, Civil War Laments, Lively Audience Sing-a-longs, Original Compositions and Folk Songs from all eras is accompanied by traditional old time instruments such as the Mountain Dulcimer, Bowed Psaltery, Autoharp, Guitar, Harmonica, and Tenor Banjo. Before re-locating to Canton, they were the performing hosts for The Old-Time Gospel Fest concert series at the Bluebird Amphitheater in Carrollton, Ohio and directed the Arts of Appalachia Music Camp for children in Carroll County, Ohio.

Steven K. Smith is an instrumentalist on the Mountain Dulcimer who has been learning, performing, composing, and teaching since 1983. The music he plays comes from a wide range of sources, including the Appalachian folk tunes that the dulcimer is generally associated with, but also European classical music, Renaissance music, pop tunes, and the Blues. He released his first CD in 1993, and now has four albums in print. He began composing tunes almost as soon as he started playing, and many of his compositions are included on his CDs.

Olivia Walton has played music since childhood on accordion and guitar. She discovered the mountain dulcimer in 2007 at Wildwood Music in Roscoe Village, Ohio. She has gone to festivals all over the region. She has a CD out with Ruth Hulthen called "Bountiful Folk." She belongs to several dulcimer clubs and teaches new comers at the Black Squirrel club in Stow. Ohio and Senior Strummers in Aurora. Ohio. She has private students out of her home In Ravenna, Ohio.

Tish Westman has been a builder, teacher, singer/songwriter and performer since 1997.  She and her husband Greg have been the Resident woodworkers at Tamarack since 2001.  They build Bowed Psalteries, Mountain Dulcimers and other zithers.  They have books and CD's. Tish has taught at several festivals such as Augusta, Mt. Dora, Kentucky Music Week, Ohio Valley Gathering, Folk College and many more.  They have performed on Mountain Stage and Tish has won several awards. 

Last Updated: August 6, 2017