The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #56028 Message #983057
Posted By: JohnInKansas
14-Jul-03 - 01:03 PM
Thread Name: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
As a confirmed MD addict, SWMBO carries a postcard from "The Dulcimer Shoppe" in her case with the quote:
"THER AIN'T NO NOTES ON A DULCIMER – YOU JUS PLAY IT"
– Joe Clark, 1892.
In the innocent thought that it might be of interest to know who this "Joe Clark" might have been, I attempted a brief web search – and came up with nothing that would identify a Joe Clark who was known to play the dulcimer in the 1890s.
Perhaps someone else has come across some reference, or knows who he might have been?
Of course, searching for "Joe Clark" brings up several hundred thousand hits – all of which refer to the song/tune "Old Joe Clark," which is in every dulcimer (and/or old-time or bluegrass) music book ever published.
Perhaps of interest: Joe Clark Bio includes:
"JOSEPH CLARK "OLD JOE CLARK," PRIVATE, 7TH INFANTRY REGIMENT KENTUCKY VOLUNTEERS, US ARMY (COPYRIGHT ©2001 MY OLD KENTUCKY ROOTS)
" Joseph Clark was the second son of Henry J. Clark and Patience Bledsoe and was born in Clay County, Kentucky on September 18, 1839."
"There was a popular break-down tune at the time that did not have lyrics, so some of Joe's friends started making up rhymes to be sung with the tune. From this originated the ballad of "OLD JOE CLARK." Joe is said to have liked the song until some of the more fun loving souls started making up rhymes that were not very complementary.
"Joe operated a country store near his house and also ran a moonshine still …
" There are several stories surrounding his death. J.B. Weaver gave this account, as told to him by Joe's son. Joe was living with a woman named Chris Leger and they split up. He then began living with a McKenney woman in his store, renting his house to Chris and her new friend, the brother of Old Jim Howard. Leger and Howard then devised a plan whereby they would kill Joe and she would claim he had left the farm to her. Howard shot and killed Joe on April 22, 1886, near the back porch of the store. Howard then fled to Beattyville, where a few days later while crossing a bridge, he was stabbed to death by two men from Clay County."
(Since this Joe Clark died in 1886, it's unlikely he said anything in 1892 that anyone would remember.)
But over in the thread Old Joe Clark. THE folk song/tune?
From: MAG (inactive) - PM
Date: 14 Sep 00 - 06:30 PM
"Ironic, since it was actually written (I don't know about composed) in 1843."
MAG stated that she'd recently researched this, but gave no sources.
(One wonders why lyrics like I've seen would have been written about a 4 year old child, athough in those rough times, perhaps they grew up fast.)
Well, maybe lyrics were written about more than one "Joe Clark?"
An attempt to go to the source of the card, The Dulcimer Shoppe, finds that the original owners sold The Dulcimer Shoppe in 2001, and current web pages give no information on small trinkets like postcards.
Dulcimists will, however, recognize "The Dulcimer Shoppe," Mountain View, Arkansas, as the home of McSpadden Dulcimers – who remain in business. It might be of interest for some to check out the East Texas Dulcimer Newsletter, February 2001, which has a brief bio on Lynn McSpadden, and a history of McSpadden Dulcimers (and also a brief bio on another notable maker, Stanley Hicks).
Another item of possible interest, particularly to newer players, appears in Dirty Linen #34 June/July '91: Contemporary Mountain Dulcimer: from which I cannot resist quoting –
"Much of what we do know about the mountain dulcimer comes from the great Kentucky singer, Jean Ritchie. Jean has been largely responsible for introducing the dulcimer to the masses, through her concerts, lectures, recordings, and publications since the 1940s. Her Dulcimer Book [Oak Pubs], which offers detailed historical perspective, photos and complete playing instructions, is still the standard. Her book Dulcimer People [Oak Pubs] is an insightful "modern history" of the dulcimer, documenting such important players as Howie Mitchell, Holly Tannen, and others."
There are some other things mentioned in the article.
Also of possible interest: Guide to Music Literature for Mountain Dulcimer. This is essentially just a list of books, but there are quite a number of them, and they seem all to be potentially interesting. (3 of kytrads are listed, although with old publisher info.)
So, on the subject I was looking for, ZERO. Other interesting junk – pretty good? Ain't the web wunnaful?
On the subject of s.a. sayings about dulcimers, the other "catch phrase" for mountain dulcimers – repeated hourly around any campground where there's a dulcimer – is "JUST FIND A PLEASANT TONE."
SWMBO can do that pretty well, but she resists my urging to "Now find the SAME pleasant tone everyone else is using." (Just kidding – really.)