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1. 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.
2. An hourglass-shaped stringed instrument held upside and backward played by Butch Ross while standing up, run through 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."
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 as well as the prestigious Philadelphia Folk Festival.
Ross has been on the road most of the last year in support of his most recent CD "People, Places, Things" a collection of story songs and his first CD of all-original material in four years.