About Athens Dulcimers

  • Jam Schedule: 1st and 3rd Thursdays (some exceptions in Oct. & Dec.)
  • 6:30 P.M. we start jammin’ so get there early to get tuned up and visit. We often get there about 6 pm to visit before the jam.
  • Click here to see our full announcements and schedule.
  • Meeting Directions: Athens Recreation Center, on corner of Hwys. 31 N and AL 251 (Pryor St) by Athens High Football stadium. Click here for map of Rec Ctr location.
  • We do not have dues!

Many people from other clubs always want to know what the Athens Dulcimer Jam Group (ADJG) does that makes us so successful. The following is what we tell them, and is also useful for our members to review periodically:

  • We are a “jam” group and not technically a “club”
    • We have no officers and no dues. We have a couple of unofficial leaders, but pretty much people step up when they need to.
    • Having officers is work and creates a work-like environment which takes away the fun.
  • Our atmosphere is like playing on front porch, not a formal business or concert setting
    • We are interested in jamming, not being a club, or a concert performance.
    • We’ve been to clubs where they follow Robert’s Rules of Order, read old minutes, discuss new business, read reports, dues etc., it feels like you’re at work and takes away the fun. Some people like that, and that’s OK!
    • We typically play old-time tunes and hymns and as a rule very little modern. 
  • Don’t expect perfection
    • We leave the level/complexity of the tune up to whoever’s turn it is. We don’t do all easy then all hard songs.
    • If someone messes up don’t start over, keep playing and try to improve on the next verse.
    • There are clubs where everyone plays exactly alike, and if someone messes up the whole group stops the song and start over from the beginning. That is embarrassing and un-motivating. Plus, it really doesn’t sound as good when everyone plays exactly alike.
    • We typically play old-time tunes and hymns and as a rule very few modern or “advanced” tunes.
    • “Advanced” is a subjective term, many tunes seem complicated until you learn it, so we really don’t make the distinction. When we refer to “advanced” tunes we’re talking about very complicated tunes that require knowledge of music theory and the ability to play complicated chords and looking for things like a “D7”.
    • A tune should never be so complicated that anyone who doesn’t know it well can’t at least open strum to the tune.
  • Tight circle
    • Sit as close together as possible, knees nearly touching (or as close as you can tolerate).
    • We’ve seen groups play with circles so large that no one can really hear each other which leads to audio chaos.
    • Large circles create confusion and ruins the intimate feeling, referred back to the “front porch” feel mentioned above.
  • Discourage the reliance on tab books/stands at the jam
    • Save the tabs and stands for home or formal lessons.
    • It’s so much easier to just grab your dulcimer and head out the door than to grab a couple armloads of stuff just to go jam. You’re not going on a safari.
    • Lugging around tab books and stands takes away time as everyone has to set them up.
    • Tab books and stands are bulky take up space, forcing a larger circle.
    • Waiting for people to find every tune in their tab book takes time away from actually playing.
    • You’d be surprised at how much quicker, and better, you learn to play the tunes when you wean yourself from relying on the tabs.
    • If you don’t know the tune, play the parts you know and open strum the rest of it. It’s the best way to learn a tune.
  • If you’re performing for an event with an audience don’t use tab books or music stands
    • In addition to the reasons above, tab books and stands hide the dulcimer from the audience and seeing the dulcimer in action is half the experience for the audience.
  • Be considerate
    • Discourage members from strumming or “noodling” when someone is trying to make announcements or in between songs when the next person is trying to announce/start their song.
    • Everyone needs to follow the tempo/style of the person calling out/starting their song and not take off on their own leaving the person whose turn it is behind.
    • Save solos for special events. I don’t mean someone singing while everyone accompanies them. You just don’t want players having to sit as spectators with their dulcimer on their laps.
    • When someone is singing, play a little softer than you normally would.
    • Keep talking to a minimum between tunes.
    • Have your tune ready when it’s your turn to announce and start a tune.  
    • Announce what you are playing so everyone can hear.
    • Listen to and follow the speed of the person leading the tune.
    • We welcome other string instruments as long as they don’t take over the sound and flavor of the mountain dulcimers.
    • Guitar players should be spaced evenly around the circle so they are not all bunched up in the same spot.
    • When playing for an audience guitar players should be in the back row as we are emphasizing the mountain dulcimer.


12 thoughts on “About Athens Dulcimers

  1. back in the 70’s i was a farmer in red bay, and a member of the red bay historical society, which was pretty much and excuse to have a pot luck supper and play a little bluegrass music. archie lee was editor for years of the red bay news and president of that club too. his aged mother, annie, lived with him and would recite her famous poem “letter from home” at most every meeting. each stanza of the poem would end with the refrain “but otherwise, we’re doing well”. If anybody has a copy of that poem i would love to have it. it was hilarious. i can only remember one part of one verse which went “the baby had to have the kettle, and the kettle was what he got. and you can bet the water in was good and hot. he’s covered in salve from head to foot you ought to hear him yell, he’s boiled and fried and lost his hide, but otherwise he’s well.”

  2. Like Vikki I hoped you were in Athens, GA where I live. However, my roots go back in Athens, AL all the way to Sims Settlement and ole Billy Redus! Been playing the dulcimer for 25+ years and have built a few along the way. Enjoyed your video. One of these days, I’ll get over your way again and hope to sit in on one of your meetings.

  3. I bought my first mountain dulcimer (a plywood version in a McSpadden case)in Lititz PA on a trip to the USA a few weeks ago, I play plenty of other instruments badly,to my surprise within minutes I could play a few tunes, now I can play lots of tunes with chords and individual string melodies. I rapidly decided that a dulcimer made of proper wood, not ply, would sound better, I was right and now I have two, with an electric solid version taking shape in my garage. What I did want to say was whilst I cannot join you in Athens (I live in Wiltshire,UK) what fun it has been to join in your Youtube sessions…I am the same sort of age and ability as your musicians and can keep up with most tunes, even adding a few harmonies of my own, and no one cares if you hit a bum note!.
    Keep it up,and thank you!

  4. I have watched several of your songs on You Tube. There is a posting of the club doing Mississippi Sawyer…….On the front row, left end a member is playing a dulcimer/banjo combination, with a black head. I don’t know if its a banjammer, a dulcijo or just exactly what it is called. My point is, I been looking everywhere on the internet trying to find one like it. So far no luck…..So can you tell me specifically what it is called and where I might buy one or is it custom built..
    Any help would be appreciated.

  5. Last week you uploaded a tribute video to Gen. Joe Wheeler, there is a beautiful song played at the very beginning of the video……I’ve heard it before and as the saying goes “its right on the tip of my tongue” but I can’t remember the name of it. I’ve played it for other folks and they can’t quite get it either, I guess that is one disadvantage of getting older.Would you be so kind to e-mail me with the name of that song…..One of my goals as a dulcimer player is to learn that song, because it don’t get any better than that.

  6. Hi I am very new dulcimer player-4 months. I love Wild Flowers Don’t Care Where they grow which I have found you playing on You Tube. Is there any way I can get the tab for it?

  7. For Bob Goodman: The Letter From Home poem can be found by Googling “Uncle Charlie’s Poems” You can read the whole bunch, but that one is on page 47.

  8. I hope you will be participating again this year!

    Play Music on the Porch Day is an international day of music. In just 4 years it has grown from a few musi-cians playing in Highland Park, Cali-fornia to an international event. In 2016 thousands of musicians from at least 17 countries participated, in-cluding Mongolia, Algeria and Iran. 2017 promises to be even bigger! Join in and play along with musicians from around the world on the last Saturday in August to celebrate Play Music on the Porch Day.
    Participation is easy! Just go outside and play music Participate alone or invite your friends to gather on the porch, in the yard or down on the corner out in the street. Share a video on your favorite social media platform and use #playmusicontheporchday

    IG – @playmusicontheporch • TWT – @PlayMusic_Porch • FB- Playmusicontheporchday

    Thank you!

  9. I feel compelled to seek ALL the news on the events put on by Dulcimers players . I was inspired by the group here in Lebanon, Oregon. My humble appreciation.

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