Arts & Culture

Virtuoso Dulcimer Musician Don Pedi Plays UK


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 3, 2009) - Virtuoso dulcimer player Don Pedi is the next artist to perform as part of "Appalachia in the Bluegrass," a concert series that explores traditional music in the Appalachian region. Pedi's free public concert is scheduled for noon Friday, Nov. 6, at the Niles Gallery, located in the University of Kentucky's Lucille C. Little Fine Arts Library and Learning Center.

Pedi, a native of Massachusetts, came from a musical family. His early musical influences included his grandfather, who played guitar, mandolin and banjo; an uncle, who was a professional singer and musician; and his father, another gifted singer. Pedi became involved with Boston's folk music scene in the early 1960s, but, it was a 1964 performance by Mimi and Richard Farina that would peak his interest in the dulcimer.

"The sound of the dulcimer proved most alluring," said Pedi, who, by 1968, was playing the dulcimer. Pedi counts traditional musicians Frank Proffitt, Doc Watson, Mississippi John Hurt and Almeda Riddle as influences on his musical taste.

A meeting with North Carolina musicians Tad Wright and Keith Zimmerman while living in Colorado in the early 1970s influenced Pedi to visit the musicians' home state. Once Pedi saw the North Carolina mountains, he has said he knew he found home. Pedi, who resides on a little farm in the mountains of Madison County, N.C., believes the area rich in traditional music and customs is where he belongs.

Considered a pioneer of the dulcimer, Pedi's music has broken new ground and cleared the path for other musicians. He is even credited by many with helping the dulcimer gain acceptance as an instrument suited for traditional Southern Dance music, as many old-time musicians felt the dulcimer was better suited as a piece of art hung on a wall.

Pedi's dulcimer playing earned him much recognition over the years. He won the first music contest he entered at Fiddler's Grove in North Carolina, as well as several that followed, which led to contest organizers declaring him a "Master Dulcimer Player" and removing him from future competition. He retired from competition with more than 30 first place awards. Pedi has also received a "Most Outstanding Performer" award at Asheville's Mountain Dance and Folk Festival and the Bacom Lamar Lunsford Award for "significant contributions" in Mountain Music.

To see video of Don Pedi performing "Walk With Me" at the Cumberland Gap Dulcimer Gathering 2008, visit YouTube at  

The "Appalachia in the Bluegrass" concert series, presented by UK's John Jacob Niles Center for American Music, showcases a diverse selection of traditional musical expression. This series focuses on the many faces of indigenous American folk music, celebrating its roots in old-time music. All "Appalachia in the Bluegrass" concerts take place in the gallery of the Niles Center in the Little Fine Arts Library on UK's central campus. Niles Gallery concerts are scheduled on Fridays at noon and are free and open to the public.

The John Jacob Niles Center for American Music is a collaborative research and performance center of the UK College of Fine Arts, UK School of Music and UK Libraries.

For more information on the Don Pedi concert, contact Ron Pen, director of the Niles Center, by phone at (859) 257-8183 or e-mail to