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- A narrow, often hourglass-shaped stringed instrument having three or four strings and a fretted fingerboard, typically held flat across the knees while sitting and played by plucking or strumming. Also called Appalachian dulcimer, mountain dulcimer.
- An hourglass-shaped stringed instrument held upside and backward played by Butch Ross while standing up, run though a bunch of guitar effects pedals, and tuned far from traditional tunings for a blistering version of your favorite Beatles song or a traditional tune over a loop of Lynyrd Skynyrd song.
Typically the dulcimer is used for playing simple tunes and accompanying the voice, most people can learn a song or two within a few minutes of first encountering the instrument. Which is probably why the one phrase you?ll hear a lot at a Butch Ross concert is "I didn?t know you could do THAT on a mountain dulcimer!" Ross has taken a simple folk instrument and energized it with technical wizardry, inventive arrangements and a healthy dose of rock-n-roll attitude. It?s this groundbreaking and iconoclastic approach that caused ukulele-virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro to comment, "Now I know what a dulcimer is supposed to sound like."
I didn't know you could do THAT on a dulcimer
Ross has been on the road most of the last year in support of his most recent CD ?A Long Way From Shady Grove? an all-instrumental record that combines his bluegrass-tinged originals with re-imagined traditional tunes and a blistering version of the Beatles? ?Eleanor Rigby? This leg finds him touring the mid-west and east coast, playing many cities for the first time.
Ross had been a touring singer/songwriter when he was given a mountain dulcimer as a birthday present. At first, the instrument was a curiosity but before too long it became his instrument of choice. A chance meeting with musician, author and producer Robert Force (himself a dulcimer iconoclast) led to the 2005 release "The Moonshiner?s Atlas" and a complete change of focus.
Since then Ross has become an in-demand performer at folk and dulcimer festivals through the US and Europe. He?s performed at such festivals as the Central Ohio Folk Festival, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, and the Lancaster (UK) Music Fest. This August, he will be debuting at the prestigious Philadelphia Folk Festival.
Butch Ross plans to finish out the year touring both here and in the UK and developing material for a new CD to be released next spring.
When Butch Ross opened for Bill Staines last fall, he received a rare accolade: a standing ovation for an opening act. He transforms the lowly mountain dulcimer into a virtuoso's instrument, drawing from it unexpected power and expressiveness. He mixes old country and Appalachian songs with his own wordy, literate, poetic ballads about people, places, and situations you might read about in a good book of short stories. He has a strong clear voice and a stage presence of boyish charm. --Minstrel Coffeehouse
Butch Ross is a rockstar. He plays the mountain dulcimer and in case you're thinking "Rockstar? Mountain Dulcimer? Doesn't compute," let me fill you in on a little something. Butch Ross does something that no one else can touch. What he does is amazing. His genius is in the fact that he found something unique to him and he just worked it to a point where no one can come close to matching it. He's seriously brilliant. --Hayley Graham
"it's almost impossible to put into words the multitude of chordal harmonies and interwoven distonic cross-stitching one person can generate with just four strings." -GOTFOLK.COM
"We're lucky to have such a talented, interesting musician living in Chattanooga" -Sean Phipps, Times Free Press
"an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary music" -Neal Walters, Dulcimer Players News
"it's beautiful. It's music that adults make. -Jon Berger, Urban Folk
"A Diverting Album" -Rob Weir, Sing Out! magazine
"Hand-Worn, Affable and Warm." -Joey Sweeney, Philadelphia Weekly
"One of Philadelphia's brightest talents" -LACH, Fortified records
He's amazing live and this album really builds on his solo work...Never too much and always just right." -Vanessa Wills, WPRB
"Ross will grab you on the first listen...quirky fun and lively. the songs are filled with catchy hooks and humorous lyrics. He's bound for something good." -Sara Barrs, Music Matters Review
"Young, irreverent, funny, talented." -Robin Hoffman, Robin's Nest House Concert Series