The first 16 tunes on this CD were released in 1991 on Phyllis's cassette, "Mountain Dulcimer - Galax Style." Featured are Ivery Kimble on the guitar (sadly missed since her passing in 2000); Jim Gaskins on fiddle, mandolin, and banjo; and Helen and Rick Feete on banjo and guitar.
The rest of the tunes were released in 1986 on Phyllis and Jim's first recording, "Threads of Tradition." These tunes feature Jim on the fiddle and banjo and Phyllis on the banjo and autoharp as well as the dulcimer; John Glick plays guitar. This album has been re-released in 2012 on CD Baby and for the first time to digital distribution.
Born and raised in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Phyllis performs traditional music with zest and high energy. She was first fascinated with the playing style of Raymond Melton of Woodlawn, Virginia, when she saw him play at fiddler's conventions in Southwestern Virginia in 1975. With a turkey quill flashing across the strings of a large mountain dulcimer, Raymond played the melody line of the fiddle tunes in a string band. For many years she followed him and the Blue Sky Ramblers band from one convention to another. She learned to play Raymond's style while sitting at his knee in jam sessions with her ear and tape player focused on his dulcimer.
Mountain dulcimers had been made by the Melton Family since the middle of the 19th century in the Carroll and Grayson County areas of Virginia. The one featured on this album was made by Raymond for Phyllis in 1980. He said of the dulcimer, "It's the best one I ever made, and you're gonna beat me on it one day." That day came in 1982 when Phyllis placed first at every convention and Raymond came in second. It was then he laughingly said, "Where's that dulcimer? I'm gonna break that thing up!"
This album is dedicated to Raymond Melton. These are some of my favorite tunes. I hope you enjoy them, learn them and carry them into another generation. Having entered the world of Virginia's traditional music and having enjoyed exploring the ancestry of many tunes, Jim and I strive to maintain authenticity in our playing of the tunes. Here I pass the tunes and style of playing on to you, and thus, our lives become entwined in the sheer joy and exhilaration of learning and playing.