ROANOKE, Va. — If the leaves are turning, it must be time for the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival. Saturday, thousands of people will return to Ferrum College for the celebration of Blue Ridge traditions. Music is always a big part of the event, and this year the dulcimer is in the spotlight.
Musician Phyllis Gaskins lives near Harrisonburg. She picked up the dulcimer in the 1970s, because it was an instrument she could learn to play without reading music. But during a recent visit to the Roanoke studios of WVTF Public Radio, she said a musician from southwest Virginia inspired her to learn "the Galax style" of playing.
"Around 1976, '77, '78, I saw Raymond Melton playing the dulcimer in a string band," Gaskins told News 7 in an interview, "and I really liked the way he played it. And I really liked the fact he was having such a good time, and that you could hear his dulcimer even when there were two guitars and a banjo and a fiddle present. And you couild still hear the dulcimer, so I fell in love with the way he was playing."
Phyllis Gaskins will share "the Galax Style," and other dulcimer players will showcase their music during the festival. The Blue Ridge Folklife Festival runs from 10 to 5 Saturday on the Ferrum College Campus.