The “Mandalay Bay Strummers” include Ellen Morgan, Cathy Bryant, Ralph Brand and Dianne DeWinter. They hail from Oxnard and Ventura, California.
Ellen, ostensibly the leader of the band, plays the mountain dulcimer and the autoharp. Ralph plucks the mandolin and guitar on the album. He also dabbles with the banjo. What a guy! Cathy and Dianne perform on the mountain dulcimer.
In the spring of 2009 the group got together over their affection for traditional folk instruments and their love of Appalachian-folk-fiddle tunes. Later that year, guitarist Jorge Santini introduced himself to the group and after a few session he suggested that they make an album.
“A Dulcimer Christmas” was born and took 10 months to complete in 2010 at Jorge’s personal studio in Woodland Hills, California. Jorge guests on the album playing the synthesizer, the bass, the guitar and the percussions.
The album includes traditional Christmas songs along with a couple lesser known tunes. They are “O Beautiful Star of Bethlehem” and “In the Bleak Midwinter.” As performed, they may soon be among your favorite carols.
Aficionados of the solo, pristine sound of traditional folk music may find the album’s convergence of upbeat tempos, rhythms and bass interesting and fun. We thank Jorge for the creative magic he brought to the album.