2022 SCDH Month of Music Bios

Meet Our Artists!


Patti Amelotte

Hammered Dulcimer

Patti Amelotte became interested in the Hammered Dulcimer and Traditional Irish music after attaining a Bachelors degree in piano performance from Chapman University. She won the California State Hammered Dulcimer Championship and has performed throughout SoCal as a soloist and in the bands Better than One with Barbara Gershman and Looney’s Fortune with Matt Tonge and Georgiana Hennessy. Her newest adventure is teaming up with Brenda Hunter in the duo, Flutter-By Music. They perform wonderful musical arrangements on 2 hammered dulcimers, harp, fiddle and accordion. Patti and Brenda will present a 1 hour concert as well as coordinated workshops as part of SCDH September activities.

Patti has performed on many television/movie soundtracks and with the San Diego Symphony in the “Lord of the Rings Suite”. Patti's recordings include "Granuaile," Better Than One - “Les Cloches d’Hiver,” Looney’s Fortune “West Coast Irish” and "Bird in the Bush." Patti teaches private and group lessons in Southern California and at other festivals. As Kingsley Sessions, she hosts concerts and classes in her studio and on Zoom. Patti also does minor repairs on/and restringing of hammered dulcimers and sells Dusty Strings hammered dulcimers through her business - Patti Amelotte Music: Instruments and Services

Bill Dempsey

Mountain Dulcimer, Ukulele


Bill Dempsey: “I started playing trombone when I was 9 years old. I did my first professional gig when I was in Jr. High. I started teaching in 1973. I built my first dulcimer in 1976. My main influences are Jean Ritchie and Richard Farina. I play 4 equidistant string dulcimer. I'm a singer/multi-instrumentalist. The dulcimer has helped me maintain and find peace and serenity while teaching beginning band, violin & recorder to 3rd, 4th, & 5th graders.” Bill is now retired from a long career as a full-time public school music teacher. Bill continues an active performing and private teaching schedule. He teaches online and from his home in San Juan Capistrano, CA. An avid surfer, he has a deep and abiding love of the sea and sea music of all kinds.

Barbara Gershman

Hammered Dulcimer


Barbara Gershman first heard the Hammered Dulcimer on a recording in a Yosemite gift shop and found a teacher, Patti Amelotte. Learning to play the dulcimer provided balance to community college teaching and led to many friendships and musical opportunities. She founded ‘On A Lark’ Celtic trio with Jill Cassidy and Terry Gucwa, succeeding the trio, ‘Dulcimania’. She also plays accordion, especially with Fountain Valley Singers & Strummers. She and Patti Amelotte perform as a duo ‘Better Than One’ for Chapman University's annual Wassail. She also plays with the ensemble ‘Legacy,’ the ‘Sans Frontieres International Folk Dance Band’ including keyboard, performs solo, ‘shepherds’ various dulcimer groups in SoCal and teaches beginning hammered dulcimer. Much of this has continued during the pandemic via Zoom and recorded videos. Barbara believes that the hammered dulcimer is ‘Music for the Soul’ and that SCDH helps keep traditional music alive. She is SCDH VP, Festival Director & E-newsletter/calendar editor.

Terry Gucwa


Terry Gucwa is known for bringing a touch of class to any musical venture as he fuses his Cello with just about any type of music. He is a mult-instrumentalist, playing cello, fretted dulcimer, guitar, trombone, recorder and accordion. Terry has gained quite a reputation as an expert arranger as part of his contribution to many ensembles: When Pigs Fly!, On a Lark (Celtic Trio), Madison Avenue Folk international dance band, and his international folk dance band, Sans Frontières (Without Borders). During the pandemic he has produced many innovative stay-at-home composite music videos, sending arrangements and guide recordings to the 8 SF band members to video themselves. Terry then did his wizardry at editing and included dancers! He is also the author of “Easy and Eas-ified Jam Tunes and Songs.” He has been a long-time supporter of The Living Tradition (TLT) and SCDH. He publishes the SCDH Dulcimer Events Monthly E-newsletter / Calendar.

Karen Harvey

Hammered Dulcimer

Karen Harvey was smitten by the sound of the hammered dulcimer many years ago. Her passion for learning and playing the hammered dulcimer has led her on a musical journey, which includes performing, recording, teaching, and composing. While engaged in a fulfilling professional nursing career, Karen led an active music life, too which has included teaching and performing in California, Idaho, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania. She has played as a member for several bands such as: Dulcimania – (California); Kairos and Friends and Late to Dinner – (East Coast); and Lilies of the West, an all-female string band, - (California). Karen has published a booklet of 20 original tunes, Dancing on Waves, and continues to compose new tunes.

Brenda Hunter

Hammered Dulcimer

Multi-instrumentalist, Brenda Hunter, is classically trained but feels she found her niche when she discovered the hammered dulcimer in 1992 and, consequently, the world of traditional music.  Since winning the National Hammered Dulcimer Competition in 1995, she has been a featured performer/instructor at numerous festivals across the country.  Bakersfield, CA is her home base where she plays regularly throughout the area a a soloist on both dulcimer and Celtic harp.  Brenda also performs in a duo with her husband, fellow multi-instrumentalist, Dave Ogden, in a duo, Flutter-By Music with fellow dulcimer player Patti Amelotte, and with her world/Celtic band, Banshee in the Kitchen.  Brenda retired from her high school music teaching job in 2018 and is enjoying having more time to devote to her musical pursuits. and with

Leo Kretzner

Mountain Dulcimer

Leo Kretzner – Tradition Meets Innovation
Leo and the mountain dulcimer met in 1975, and neither has been the same ever since. He has been a major innovator of the instrument, spanning from Celtic jigs and reels to blues and rock, and from Appalachian to contemporary, with guitar and vocals added to the mix.
Leo has performed and taught for over forty years at folk festivals and coffee houses all over the country. He is working on a new album, Mixed Colors/Art of the 4-String Dulcimer, out by Fall 2022. His other albums are Dulcimer Fair (’77), Pigtown Fling (’79), Bold Orion (’84), and Not-So-Still-Life (’90).

Joellen Lapidus

Mountain Dulcimer


Joellen Lapidus is one of the pioneers of contemporary mountain dulcimer playing, songwriting, and building. She blends Appalachian, Indian, Arabic, jazz, classical, and pop musical styles to give the mountain dulcimer a new range of rhythmic, melodic, and tuning possibilities. As a dulcimer maker, her work influenced many of the dulcimer builders of the 70's and 80's. Her instruments were known for their innovative shapes, exquisite sound hole and peghead inlay work. She introduced the dulcimer to Joni Mitchell and made three instruments for her between 1968 and 1976. She has also made instruments for David Crosby, Jackson Browne, Wendy Waldman, Garth Hudson and Harry Stiles.
She is a gifted teacher and is the author of the 2nd edition of her classic dulcimer instruction book “LAPIDUS ON DULCIMER 2". She has recorded 2 CDs, “Joellen Lapidus Live in Concert” and “Dulcimer Music For the Pelican Ballet”.
You can view her work and reach her at www.lapidusmusic.com

Patty McCollom

Bodhran & Tin Whistle


Patty McCollom has played bodhran (Irish frame drum) and tinwhistle professionally, for over 30 years. She is a multi-instrumentalist, playing tinwhistle, banjo, fiddle, and bodhran, and sings with several bands. She has toured internationally with various groups and performed at festivals throughout the United States. Patty is a jam organizer and an enthusiastic leader in the traditional music community. She is president of the The Living Tradition, an organization promoting traditional music and dance. Contact Patty at: www.musicbypatty.com or mccollomp@sbcglobal.net

Sarah Morgan

Mountain Dulcimer

Sarah Kate Morgan started her musical journey at 7 years old when she was introduced to old-time music through a dulcimer that her grandfather built. From there, she has gone on to develop a uniquely intricate and virtuosic style inspired by the traditional Appalachian music she grew up with in rural East Tennessee. At 18, Sarah placed 1st at the 2012 National Mountain Dulcimer Championships held in Winfield, KS. She recently graduated from Morehead State University in eastern Kentucky with degrees in Traditional Music, Appalachian Studies, and Arts Administration. Sarah Kate also performs as a regular member of the Michelle Canning Band, has recorded many albums, calls square dances, attempts to quilt and grow things in her garden, and works at the Hindman Settlement School in eastern Kentucky as the Traditional Arts Education Director.

Kevin Roth

Mountain Dulcimer

Kevin Roth entered the dulcimer scene in 1974 and quickly became known as one of the innovators of dulcimer music. From 1974-1978 he recorded a dozen albums for Folkways Records and then formed his own label now numbering a total of forty-nine albums to his discography. In 2020 Kevin +introduced ‘Dulcimeditation’ to the dulcimer world, and now teaches this form of playing along with his personal life-coaching career.

Cyntia Smith

Mountain Dulcimer

Cyntia Smith is an internationally known fretted dulcimer artist, vocalist, composer, and arranger of Renaissance and British Isles traditional music. Cyntia recorded and co-produced five critically acclaimed albums with Ruth Barrett between 1980 and 1993. She is one of the pioneers in the development of chord-melody classical fingerpicking style and has been teaching the dulcimer and performing since 1979.
With luthier Dale Foye, she helped develop and build the Aeolus classical dulcimer, a hybrid of the Spanish classical guitar and the mountain dulcimer, and added her unique sound hole carvings and custom abalone inlays to many Aeolus dulcimers and to Mr. Foye’s guitars.
Cyntia co-founded the Southern California Dulcimer Heritage and the Harvest Festival of Dulcimers, and served as the artistic director from 1995 to 2006. Cyntia has been an instructor and performer at numerous festivals across the country, and continues to compose and teach the dulcimer. Her debut solo album, Soul Tending, features her original songs and instrumentals interwoven with guitar, percussion, flute, and cello. Cyntia can be contacted, and her physical and digital CD albums are available on her website: www.cyntiasmith.com 

Ruth Smith

Hammered Dulcimer

Ruth Smith, a native North Carolinian, studied music at the University of Illinois and composes music especially for the hammered dulcimer. Her compositions have been featured on NPR's All Songs Considered, Sirius XM satellite radio, PBS TV "Song of the Mountains" and in Dulcimer Players News. Dirty Linen Folk & World Music Magazine says “ Ruth Smith's touch on the hammered dulcimer is absolutely magical, with exquisite phrasing, highlighting the range of the instrument especially on her own pieces.” She teaches hammered and Appalachian mountain dulcimer workshops at festivals and folk schools throughout the country and is the author of From Heart to Hands and Touch of Grace, two popular hammered dulcimer instructional books of her compositions and arrangements. Ruth is also accomplished in traditional Appalachian fiber arts, including weaving and spinning.

Steve Smith

Guitar & Ukulele

Steve Smith, an ASCAP award-winning songwriter, adds fingerstyle guitar, clawhammer banjo, ukulele and vocals to the duo. Dulcimer Players News says, “He is a master storyteller and the perfect vocalist to convey the meaning of his lyrics. His songs stand out for their imagery and melodic strength …on par with John Denver’s songs.” Dirty Linen Folk & World Music Magazine says Steve’s accompaniment on guitar and banjo provides "a traditional…rich, true sound" to their Appalachian Americana music. Steve has a Master’s degree in Appalachian Studies from Appalachian State University with an emphasis in Appalachian music and folklife. He teaches workshops nationally on guitar, banjo, ukulele, recording, songwriting, copyrights & publishing, live sound reinforcement, and performing techniques.
Steve and Ruth perform at many major festivals nationwide, as well as on the PBS TV series Song of the Mountains, NPR’s All Songs Considered and Thistle & Shamrock. Their recordings (8 CDs) are played on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio, Pandora, Spotify, Highlander Radio Networks, NPR, and radio stations around the U.S. They have been featured artists in Dulcimer Players News.
In 2014, Steve and Ruth were inducted into America's Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame for their performing, preserving, & promoting traditional country music. They were named "Americana Instrumental Group of the Year" at the 2013 Appalachian Cultural Music Association Awards, and were 2009 Roots Music nominees in the JPF International Music Awards, the world's largest awards for independent musicians. www.steveandruth.com  info@steveandruth.com