CHAPTER 4: Dulcimers in the British Isles since 1800 > Dulcimers in the Midlands & the North

Fred Woodley

2002: I had not come across Fred Woodley at the time I wrote the1976 thesis.
This short presentation is taken from
the double-cassette album Dulcimer Players from England, Veteran VTVS 07/08; thanks to John Howson.

"I first heard the dulcimer when I was five or six. In those days they didn't have television, it was down to the pub and meet people, then back to various houses for a concert and that's where dad would play the dulcimer.

"People used to queue to get in our house just to play with him. There would be piano players, accordion players and his favourite was the banjo. You might think my playing's OK but he was brilliant! But it was late at night when this happened and us kids were sent to bed. Of course we would creep down the stairs and that was my introduction to the dulcimer. Dad played mainly pop songs of the day like 'Blackbird' and 'Daisy'. I'm the youngest of the family and I was probably dad's last hope as apart ffom my sister playing a little, I'm the only one. I would ask him if I could have a play and he'd say 'No!', but then he'd leave the dulcimer on the table and look through the crack in the door. It was a bit of psychology to get me playing!

"All the instruments were made in the family. I've still got one my grandfather made and one my dad made for me, besides thirty odd I've made myself.

"I grew up for thirty years thinking I was the only one who played the dulcimer. Bill Fell has lived three miles from me for sixty years and I met him for the first time about eight years ago. Then ten years ago, I learned about the 'Nonsuch Dulcimer Club'. What happened was we were on holiday in Beer, Devon the same week as Sidmouth Festival and my brother went through a car park and there was a bloke called Roger Frood selling dulcimers. My brother was gobsmacked and told him about me, and I eventually joined the club and now I've met lots of other players and got a new life!"

Fred's playing can be heard on the double cassette Dulcimer Players from England. Now he has his own web-site, with photos old and new, family history, details of his own CD and a taster of what it sounds like: here.

A click on one of these pictures will take you to Fred's web-site, where you can see full-size versions