liberating the dulcimer

Dulcimer Sessions (SFL)
David Schnaufer

By John Goodin

This is no ordinary dulcimer tape. David Schnaufer plays the mountain, or lap, dulcimer with virtuosity. He can play delicate solo tunes or mix it up with a seven-piece band called the Cactus Brothers. He also can call on some impressive friends when he goes into the studio.

Dulcimer Sessions features a duet with Mark Knopfler on the Everly Brothers classic "All I Have to Do Is Dream," which allows Knopfler to exhibit some real tenderness. Albert Lee drops in for a romp through "Down Yonder," and the reclusive '60s legend Sandy Bull lends some atmospheric steel guitar to "Sandy." Santiago Jimenez Jr. and friends bring a border sound to "Santiago's Shottis" and there's even a vocal tune, "Colors," featuring the voice of Toni Price.

Several tunes with the Cactus Brothers cover a lot of ground, from the jazzy "Spaced Out & Blue" to a driving Fairport Convention-style version of "Fisher's Hornpipe." After all the collaborations, however, the real treats of this collection are the solo pieces. Each one is a gem but my favorite is a version of the Rolling Stones' "Lady Jane" that captures the Elizabethan spirit of the original and does honor to the memory of Brian Jones.

Folks who like the sound of the non-hammered dulcimer and who enjoy a little variety will be pleased with Schnaufer's offering. Those who want non-intrusive background music might have a problem with the programming that alternates between quiet tunes and the energetic approach of the Cactus Brothers. Schnaufer wrote or co-wrote seven of the pieces here and these could be inspirational to other dulcimer players who write, or want to write, their own music.