‘Backwoods’ music show today

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Backwoods music is a term that causes Dan Fraley to chuckle a bit.

“The dulcimer is a mountain instrument – maybe you could say ‘backwoods’ – but I’ll be playing the same old stuff I always play, Fraley said.

The New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music concerts at the Stephens Gazebo in downtown Troy continue at 5:15 p.m. today and will feature “backwoods” music by Fraley who accompanies himself on the dulcimer.

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“The dulcimer is a mountain instrument with an Appalachian sound,” Fraley said. “It’s unique in that you can play the melody and chords at the same time.”

Fraley mainly plays old-time music that has a mountain edge, “songs like the Carters played,” but he also plays some of the more progressive music.

His program for the New Harmonies concert will include tunes like “Old Joe Clark,” “Paco Bell Cannon,” “I’ll Fly Away” and he’ll “probably” play Floyd Cramer’s “Last Date.”

“I really like that piano piece,” said Fraley, who has been playing the dulcimer for about 35 years.

“I got interested in the dulcimer just by seeing somebody else play one,” he said. “Don Dietz, who lived here in Troy, had a dulcimer and I really liked the way it sounded. My wife, Sue, picked up a dulcimer kit for me and I put it together.

“Don and I were really just self-taught. I’d try to figure out songs then, I’d put the phone down by the dulcimer and play it and let him listen. Then, he’d do the same for me. That’s mainly how we learned.”

Fraley and Dietz played together as Rustic Strings. Later, Fraley organized the Left-Handed Dulcimer Band.

“Don moved on and I’ve been on my own ever since, Fraley said.

He plays the dulcimer with The WPA Scratch Band, the house band at the We Piddle Around Theater in Brundidge. The band also plays at activities and events around the area.

Fraley is proud to be able to play a role in keeping the old-time music alive and well in South Alabama.

Everyone is invited to the New Harmonies concert today at the Gazebo. There is no admission.

The New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music, a Smithsonian travel exhibit, is featured at The Cultural Arts Studio on East Walnut Street. Admission to the exhibit is free.

Hours are 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday through Nov. 11.

The New Harmonies exhibit and concerts are sponsored by the Troy-Pike Cultural Arts Center, the Alabama Humanities Foundation and Troy University’s College of Communication and Fine Arts.