"When I bought
it was in tune.
trouble ever since"
AIN'T THAT AGGRAVAT'N
In the cabin on the first day of the Silver Dollar City Christmas festival we waited for The Homestead Pickers to play. I turned to my right and snapped this pic of Greg Becker tuning his 46 string hammered dulcimer. He looked up at me and said 'this is a lesson in frustration.'
As a member of The Homestead Pickers you must commit to three things - investing a goodly portion of your life to learning how to play an instrument, an even greater portion tuning the same and a vow of poverty (unless you have a spouse with a job in town). If you want to make more money, let's say to raise your income to the generally accepted poverty level, you must also learn to play and tune strings on a myriad of instruments, kind of pay by the number of notes you tune pay scale. If you play a four string bass, you might want to pick up the hammered dulcimer.
In fact, each of the pickers plays a variety of instruments, the banjo, stand-up bass, guitar, Dobro, mandolin, fiddle and hammered dulcimer, all of which must be checked before (what do you call it when bluegrass players get together - a concert, a performance - let's call it) a gathering.
One final thing that all bluegrass musicians must do is to find an equally impoverished following of bluegrass music lovers. This helps to fulfill the poverty vow.
The truth be told if the Pickers were paid their worth, they would be millionaires. Few recognize the sacrifice some make to do what they were born and called to do. You could not take their work into a large concert hall, and it be any better. The intimacy of the small one room cabin filled with those who we are honored to sit beside would be hard to reproduce elsewhere. Their worth can not be measured on a ledger sheet or counted as one would count the cash drawer at the end of the day. Their value is their talent, their love for this special music, their humor and antics and in the way that they encourage the younger generation to continue the tradition. You can't bottle and mass produce that. You just have to be there and enjoy what can only be described as a breath from heaven.
I don't know who is the richer? They for their musical talent or
those of us that get to listen to it. One thing is for sure,
some very special music gets played
in this 35 seat Carnegie Hall of the Ozarks.
Greg celebrated his 41st year at SDC this year, a great many of them as a member of The Homestead Pickers. Beyond his talents on the hammered dulcimer, bass, and harmonica he is the group's music historian.
To hear a little of what Greg hears when he tunes his dulcimer
click the Play Button
Greg has a CD out with his dulcimer music available at
Click on 'Order CDs'
Look for his 'After All These Years' CD.