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Playing Around: Carolyn Cruso 

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The first time I ever heard hammered dulcimer was 1971, during the opening act of a Judy Collins concert. The hall was filled with patchouli scented long hairs in torn jeans and Indian print floor-length dresses -- sons and daughters of Dean Martin lovers who fancied themselves caught up in a folk revolution. I had played the Appalachian lap dulcimer -- akin to the autoharp in execution -- and had no idea that the hammered dulcimer was a completely different beast -- far more intricate and elegant, sounding like a cross between tinkling bells and an autoharp. Believe me, it wasn't the pot fumes in the auditorium that made me feel as if I had been transported to an ancient Irish meadow to dance with leprechauns upon first hearing this lovely sound.

The word dulcimer derives from Latin, meaning "sweet sound." Hammered dulcimers, trapezoidal in shape and played with lightweight mallets, are, in fact, an ancestor to the pianoforte -- an improvement on harpsichord which could not be played with dynamics of hard or soft.

Carolyn Cruso is a seasoned hammered dulcimer performer, having toured widely in the United States and Europe for over a decade with former partner Robert Almblade. As a solo performer, Carolyn has emerged not only as a skilled instrumentalist but as a singer-songwriter of distinction. Her upcoming evening at Poor Richard's is billed as "A Concert of Lyrical Hammered Dulcimer Playing and Soulful Singing; mostly original, some traditional." Be prepared to be transported. Call 632-7721 for more information.

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