Wednesday, April 4, 2018

2019 Registration NOW OPEN! Booking For Castaway Music Cruise!

Registration is NOW OPEN for the 7th Annual Florida Gulf Coast Dulcimer Retreat - February 21st - 24th, 2019 in Homosassa, Florida! You can register for $159 per person to the top right of this page. Which means that we're also planning ahead and booking passage on the Royal Caribbean vessel Enchantment of the Seas for another Castaway Music Cruise, which will depart right after the retreat on February 25th from Port Canaveral and return from Nassau, Bahamas and Coco Cay on Friday, March 1st. Below are details that you'll need to book with our group. I hope you can join us!

There will be a number of workshops available for mountain dulcimer, ukulele and pennywhistle along with jams, flash mobs and more!  If you're a registered retreat attendee, the cost per person is $79 while $129 is the fee for those just doing the cruise.  You can register for the workshop part of the cruise just below (continue beyond that for information on booking your passage.)

2019 Castaway Music Cruise

The cruise information is bulleted below - everything you need to book your cruise directly thru Royal Caribbean - and the best part is that if you book using our group number, your deposit is TOTALLY REFUNDABLE until December 12, 2018, which is when the final payment is due!  (Suites are not included in the totally refundable category - ask for these)  We're hoping you'll book soon, we want you to be part of the action with us next year!

If you have any questions, comments, or ideas, please feel free to call Sharrie @ 440-478-1302.   Or call any of us and let us know your thoughts.......We'd love to hear from you!

This will go on Facebook and into mass mailing soon, so grab a cabin while they're available.  We are set for the 6 pm seating for dinner, but if we hear from you that you'd prefer the later seating, we can change it if we do that soon.

We'll be sending information about our teaching and workshops soon as well - let us know what you want and we will get that ready for you!

Hoping we hear from you soon!

Bing & Jae, Guy & Sharrie

2019 Castaway Cruise is Ready for Booking!

Follows the 2019 Florida Gulf Coast Dulcimer Retreat

  • 4 Night Bahamas Cruise with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines
  • Monday, February 25 thru Friday, March 1, 2019
  • Departing from Port Canaveral, Florida with stops in Nassau, Bahamas and CocoCay, a private island owned by Royal Caribbean
  • Call Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines @ 800-465-3595, (select Option #4)
  • Book with GROUP # 9534907 "Castaway Music Cruise" 
  • Have your Crown & Anchor # ready 
  • Inside cabins start at $390.13 - includes all taxes and fees -  per person (for 2 in a cabin)
  • Ocean View cabins start at $450.13 PP - (taxes & fees included)
  • Ocean View Balconies  (9 available at refundable rate with group) - $620.13 PP (taxes & fees included)
  • Suites available - ask for rates and deposit terms
  • $50.00 onboard credit for each cabin
  • $200.00 deposit is TOTALLY refundable until December 12, 2018 when final payment is due!
  • They are holding cabins for us until 5/15/2018 
  • Group beach party on CocoCay with an "Island Jam" on the beach!  
  • More Jam and workshop times!
  • Onboard group activities and events - including "flash mobs"!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018


Thank you, EVERYONE, for another fantastic retreat!  We just got back from the 1st Annual Homosassa Castaway Cruise and had a great time - we're already looking forward to next year's events.  Thanks again!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Farewell to The Riverside Crab House

The old building's coming down.
Sad, but exciting, news today as The Riverside Crab House and Yardarm Lounge closes after over 50 years of magic and memories.  The building, which overlooks the Homosassa River and includes the famous Monkey Bar, was heavily damaged by recent storms and it was decided to tear down and build again from the ground up.

This doesn't effect the operation of the 6th Annual Florida Gulf Coast Dulcimer Retreat at all, but we will certainly miss being able to walk across the lane from the Manatee Ballroom and belly up to the bar or have a meal within view of Monkey Island.  In the coming weeks, as we get closer to the retreat, I'll be posting at least once a day with places of note in the area with great food and drink.

While we're sad that this old historic building has to go, we are excited about what phoenix will rise from the ashes and we'll be sure to get lots of photos of the progress.

In the meantime, here is the official press release:


The Yardarm Lounge, also known as The Riverside Crab House and The Monkey Bar, has celebrated 50 years on the Homosassa River. The iconic restaurant was opened by The Norris Development Company in 1967 and later purchased by the late Dave Stewart and Dr. Donald Vesley. It was most recently acquired by Riverside, LLC in 1998. On Tuesday, January 30, 2018, the doors will close for the final time.


Many things have changed in the span of 50 years, and the Yardarm Lounge and Riverside Crab House has seen it all. She has celebrated first dates, graduations, weddings, new births, anniversaries, and reunions with generations of Homosassa residents and guests from around the world. She has been the stepping stone to many local youngsters as they embarked on their first jobs before going off to college and other successes. She has witnessed sadness at too many memorials in honor of friends and loved ones. No doubt the Crowning Jewel was the location of this beautifully built restaurant overlooking Monkey Island. Unfortunately, the very thing that made the restaurant a favorite to so many is what finally closed her doors. She has endured more than five decades of daily brackish rising and falling tides, lapping at a foundation that is cantilevered over the beautiful Homosassa River. No name, Charlie, Ivan, Frances, Hermine and Irma are a few of the ferocious storms that have taken their toll over the years. Gail Oakes, the managing partner of The Homosassa Riverside Resort which owns the restaurant, hotel, marina and Monkey Island said, “The two story restaurant’s roof was structurally damaged during the last hurricane and is beyond repair. Experts agreed that the age of the building and the degree of the damage would require extensive repairs to the structure which are not financially practical.”


Oakes said, “My partners and I made the decision to demolish a substantial portion of the damaged building and replace it with a smaller outdoor eatery with spectacular views of the Homosassa River and Monkey Island. The new venue will still feature our famous live blue crabs and seafood selections along with new and exciting additions.” The hotel, marina, boat rentals and banquet room will not be affected by this closure. While Oakes admits that February is the “peak” season in the Homosassa restaurant business and unfortunate timing, she is hopeful that the busy season will make it possible for her displaced staff to find positions with other local restaurant owners who are staffing up for the return of winter guests to our area. The Yardarm Lounge, Riverside Crab House and Monkey Bar are located at 5297 S. Cherokee Way, Homosassa, Florida, on the bank of the Homosassa River. For information regarding this story, please contact: Homosassa Riverside Resort, Gail Oakes 352-628-2474.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

2018 Workshop Schedule!


8:30 am - 9:30 am - (Guy) Get Friendly with the Hammered Dulcimer - Beginning HD
9:45 am - 10:45 am - (Guy) Pennywhistle - Beginning
11 am - 12 pm - (Bing) Beginning Mountain Dulcimer
12:15 pm - 1:15 pm - (Sharrie) Beginning Ukulele
1:45 pm - 2:45 pm - (Bing) The Manatee Orchestra - Mountain Dulcimers
3 pm - 4 pm - (Guy) Manatee Orchestra for Hammered Dulcimer, Pennywhistle and Steel Drum!
4:15 pm - 5:15 pm - (Sharrie) Manatee Orchestra - Intermediate Ukulele


8:30 am - 9:30 am - (Richard) Strings And String Changing For The Dulcimer Player - All Level Mountain Dulcimer
9:45 am - 10:45 am - (Sharrie) Ukulele Standards! - Intermediate
11 am - 12 pm - (Bing) Playing In The Basement - Learn To Play Bass Mountain Dulcimer
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm - (Guy) Hammered Technique Fun! - Intermediate HD
1:45 pm - 2:45 pm - (Richard) What To Do With Your 1.5 Fret - All Level Mountain Dulcimer
3 pm - 4 pm - (Bing) How To Play Native American Flute
4:15 pm - 5:15 pm - (Guy) Jamming on the Whistle! - Intermediate Pennywhistle


8:30 am - 9:30 am - (Sharrie) Reggae Ukulele! Beyond Beginner/Intermediate
9:45 am - 10:45 am - (Bing) Mountain Dulcimer - The Wonderful World Of Disney
11 am - 12 pm - (Bing) The Last of the Mohicans
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm - (Guy) Jamming Hammers! - Intermediate Hammered Dulcimer
1:45 pm - 2:45 pm - (Richard) - What To Do With Your 6 Fret
3 pm - 4 pm - (Bing, Guy, Sharrie) Manatee Orchestra REHEARSAL - All Instruments!
The Manatee Orchestra will open up the Saturday evening concert at 7 pm


8:30 am - 9:30 am - (Bing) Mountain Dulcimer - Sunday Morning Coming Down
9:45 am - 10:45 am - (Richard) Murder Ballads III - All Level Mountain Dulcimer


Castaway Cruise Begins!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

First Promo Is Here!

Here's the first promo for the 2018 edition of our retreat! Just a little something to get you hyped up for February - enjoy!

Workshop Descriptions for Guy, Sharrie, Richard and Bing

Sharrie George - Workshops

Beginning Ukulele

Never played the uke before but always wanted to give it a try?  Do it here!  No worries - just fun; we have the uke for you to try, and we’ll have you playing some fun uke tunes in an hour!  Also a good refresher if it’s been a while - or come in at the end and play a few tunes to warm up for the weekend!

Ukulele Manatee Orchestra

Learn to play a few tunes from beginning to end with melody, harmony, and strum patterns - take them home to play with your group - Ukes or other instruments!  Learn to strum and play parts for the Manatee performance on Saturday with all instruments!

Ukulele Standards!  - Intermediate

Learn chords and strums for some of the great all time "Ukulele Classics!"  Use the skills you've learned to add to your repertoire - for more advanced players, some of the tunes will have melody, harmony, and some “licks” tabbed out for you!

Reggae Ukulele!  Beyond Beginner/Intermediate

Learn how to play in “Reggae” style - Strumming and rhythms, how “NOT to play on 1!”  We’ll learn some fun tunes, some easy reggae fills! Good information that will cross over to other styles of playing as well!

Guy George - Workshops

Jamming on the Whistle! - Intermediate Pennywhistle

We’ll learn some new and lesser known jam tunes, and then take a few to the next level, improvising, playing over chords, and some tips for playing in a jam situation.  Bring your favorite tunes; I’ll bring mine!

Get Friendly with the Hammered Dulcimer - Beginning HD

Learn or review the basics, learning what you need to become a hammered dulcimer player!  Have fun learning easy ways to play chords and a few melodies. Some hammered dulcimers are available to LOAN - a great way to try the dulcimer and see if this is the instrument for you!

Hammered Dulcimer, Pennywhistle, Steel Drum Manatee Orchestra! - All levels

Learn and practice parts for our Manatee tunes for this year’s extravaganza!   Get melody, harmony and extra parts for these great tunes!

Jamming Hammers! - Intermediate Hammered Dulcimer

Learn some great jam tunes with parts, and how to get around the melody and general jam survival tips! Great ear training for chords too!

Beginning Pennywhistle

Learn how to play the easiest instrument to carry, tune, and set up!  We’ll have you playing a few easy melodies in 2 keys in one workshop.  “D” whistle needed - we’ll have some for sale before the workshop.

Hammered Technique Fun! - Intermediate HD

Improve your playing with some new techniques, new tunes, and how to apply techniques to these and other tunes.

Bing Futch - Workshops

Beginning Mountain Dulcimer

You've got to start somewhere and we'll do just that, beginning with the basics of strumming, picking, playing melody against the drone and how to read tablature.  You'll learn a few tunes and get to know your instrument a little bit better as we cover subjects like putting on strings, tuning, how to practice and learning the fretboard.  Ask about loaner instruments! (Beginners - Novice)

Mountain Dulcimer - The Wonderful World Of Disney

If you're a big Disney fan, what would be more fun than picking some Disney tunes on the mountain dulcimer?  We'll have a good time with classics as well as recent hits from films like "Mary Poppins", “The Lion King” and “Alice In Wonderland.”  Along the way, we'll learn techniques to help you play these tunes "in a most delightful way!" (Beginner - Intermediate)

The Manatee Orchestra - Mountain Dulcimers

Come learn three fun, easy songs and then thrill to a dress rehearsal before performing in the Saturday night concert with The Manatee Orchestra!  All skill levels are welcome and I've written a nice little arrangement for each of the tunes we'll be playing.  If you've done it before, you know what a BLAST this is! (All Skill Levels)

How To Play Native American Flute

This beautiful, haunting and expressive instrument dates back 4000 years on the North American continent.  Originally used in courtship and later in ceremonies and, more recently, ensemble performance, the Native American flute now enjoys great popularity in all types of music.  You'll be surprised at just how easy it is to play!  In this workshop, you'll learn basics: flute anatomy, how to hold it, breath control, major and minor scales, ornamentation techniques and how to discover your very own spirit song.  If you don't have a flute, I will have a limited supply of loaners that are also available for purchase.  Key does not matter if you wish to bring your own.  (All Skill Levels)

Playing In The Basement - Learn To Play Bass Mountain Dulcimer

Every jam group would love to have a bass player to hold down the bottom end and keep time for everyone.  With a bass mountain dulcimer, you can do that without having to learn another instrument!  I’ll teach you the secret to playing perfect bass accompaniment for fiddle tunes, ballads and more, plus, I’ll show you how to create unique bass lines using simple elements of music theory.  There will be some bass dulcimers available for loaners (and purchase!) from Folkcraft Instruments. (Intermediate - Advanced)

The Last of the Mohicans - Mountain Dulcimer

Many of you have heard me play "Promentory" from "The Last of the Mohicans"; well now, you can learn that exact arrangement!  It's a mixture of "The Gael" by Dougie Maclean and the music of film composer Trevor Jones.  I've got all the parts and, with enough folks, we can create an orchestral version of this dramatic piece! (Or, I'll back us up with my looper pedal.) (Intermediate - Advanced)

Sunday Morning Coming Down

No, we're not going to learn the Johnny Cash song (though it might played a little.)  This workshop is basically a "cool-down" after three days of learning.  Any questions, clarifications, observations, discoveries, breakthroughs, etc., can be brought to the table in this new offering that aims to sum up, and shore up, your retreat experience.

Richard Ash Workshops

Murder Ballads III

Fast-becoming an annual tradition, Richard's collection of murder ballads is becoming more grisly, ghastly, and gruesome by the year. You wouldn't think such an unpleasant subject (usually involving a romance gone bad) could produce such a wealth of great tunes, but these are some of the best songs in the traditional music repertoire. MBIII contains all-new songs - no overlap from MBI and MBII. (All levels. Bring a capo.)

Strings And String Changing For The Dulcimer Player

A lot of players (even some great players) are intimidated by changing the strings on their dulcimers. And they let their instruments sound dull and lifeless, because the strings are past their prime. Richard (who has strung up thousands of dulcimers over the past decade) will walk you through the mechanics of string changing. Plus, how to select strings, how the different varieties of strings (brass, bronze, plain steel, stainless steel, etc.) affect the tone. You'll learn about the different gauges of strings, and the benefits/disadvantages of each. Ball end versus loop end. It can go on for days, but Richard will curate the most important parts, and keep it down to an hour. (Lots of handouts included, for future reference.) (Bring your dulcimer. This will be a hands-on class, if you're brave enough!) (All levels. Bring a capo.)

What To Do With Your 1.5 Fret

So many of us have a 1.5 fret, but it mostly sits there. Unused. “I don't have sheet music that uses that note.” Guess what? You can use the 1.5 fret with all kinds of jam tunes, and have fun making up variations on the classic melodies. You paid for the fret. Might as well use it... (All levels, no capo.)

What To Do With Your 6 Fret

Since the advent of DAD tuning, and the addition of the 6.5 fret, the 6 fret has been feeling sad, lonely, and neglected. I'll show you all kinds of neat things you can do, with classic jam tunes, using the 6 fret. Don't miss out - this is going to wake up your ears! (All levels. No capo.)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Are You Ready?

We're just a little over four months away with rooms and registrations filling up quickly! Many folks register for the following year while still at the retreat, while others tend to wait till the last minute. In either case, you won't want to miss out on our sixth annual edition! All the information you need to register and reserve rooms and/or campground sites is posted on the right side of this page. Looking forward to another fantastic time on the Homosassa River with everyone!

Bing Futch, Guy George, Jae Futch and Sharrie George