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Musicians give old favorites new sound

Staff writer

Glenn Murphy, of Derby, slowly attracted a crowd at Threshing Days Saturday in Goessel by playing a mountain dulcimer, a sit-down wooden instrument, which sounds like a cross between a banjo and a mandolin.

Murphy started playing Saturday afternoon by himself but was joined by Jean Wiens, of Mead, who jammed with Murphy on piano for a few songs.

“I like them to have music at Threshing Days,” Wiens said. “It’s fun to play with someone who plays by ear.”

Murphy started playing mountain dulcimer in 1995 when he joined the Great Plains Dulcimer Alliance, a group based in Wichita. He said that he taught himself to play by ear, incorporating a library of old fiddle tunes he heard his grandfather play in his childhood into his repertoire.

Alliance members Pat Harrington, on mandolin and recorder, and Richard Taylor, on guitar, joined Murphy about a half an hour after Wiens had jammed with the mountain dulcimer player.

Together they played a range of music from Celtic folk songs to Bluegrass.

“Anything old,” Harrington said of their musical choices.

They played “Crooked Stove Pipe,” “Old Joe Clark,” “Whiskey Before Breakfast,” “Chinese Breakdown,” and “Black Mountain Rag.”

At one point in their set, a boy asked the band if they knew Ozzie Osborne’s “Crazy Train.”

“You probably know a bunch of songs that we don’t know and we’re going to play a bunch of songs that you don’t know,” Murphy responded.

Murphy, Harrington, and Taylor have been playing together for about four years. They jam every Tuesday at Wilhelm Methodist Church in Derby. Their ease with one another was evident in the playful banter among band members.

At one point, Harrington and Taylor suggested a song that Murphy didn’t know.

“You have to work hard to find a song that Glenn doesn’t know,” Taylor said.

Taylor also joked that the Great Plains Dulcimer Alliance had given up on its standards by letting guitar players in the club.

Murphy did not use any sheet music while the group played together, while Harrington and Taylor riffled through binders of music to find Murphy’s suggested selections.

“I don’t have all the stuff memorized,” Taylor said. “He changes on me too fast.”

Saturday was the second Threshing Days that Murphy, Harrington, and Taylor have played. Judging by the interest they garnered from the Goessel crowd of all ages, it won’t be their last.

“It’s a whole lot of fun,” Harrington said.

Last modified Aug. 11, 2010

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