Wednesday, August 30, 2023

10th Annual Florida Gulf Coast Dulcimer Retreat (Video Promo)


Here's our new promo video!  If you'd like to share it on social media, please use the following link:

Many thanks!

10th Annual Florida Gulf Coast Dulcimer Retreat Schedule

Wednesday 2/21

5:30 pm - Check-In/Instrument Drop-Off

6 pm - 9 pm - Sangria Steel Drum/Cheeseburgers in Paradise Happy Hour Jam! Come join the laid-back vibes with us for a tropical soirée filled with Sangria sippin' and yummy Cheeseburgers in Paradise. Get ready for a dose of island spirit as we groove to the rhythm of steel drums at our demonstration and workshop extravaganza! Grab your Jumbie Jam Steel Drum and stick around for a hands-on workshop – whether you're a seasoned player or a first-timer, we've got the island vibes covered. Let the sounds of the steel drums transport you to a musical paradise, and if you're feeling the rhythm, join in the jam session as we roll into a tropical groove that'll have you swaying in no time!

Thursday 2/22

8 am - Doors open

8:30 am - 9:30 am - Beginning Ukulele - BEGINNER - Sharrie (UKE) Gazebo

8:30 am - 9:30 am - Mountain Dulcimer Fundamentals - Bing (MD) Living Room

9:45 am - 10:45 am - Beginning Pennywhistle or REVIEW!! - Guy (PW) Patio

11 am - 12 pm - Learn Ten New Songs By Watching Hands - Richard (MD) Gazebo

12:15 pm - 1:15 pm - Manatee Orchestra - Mountain Dulcimers - Bing (MD) Living Room

1:45 pm - Deep Dive - Bing (MD) Game Room

1:45 pm - 2:45 pm - Get Up to Speed on Hammered Dulcimer - All Levels - Guy (SD) HD Dining Room

3 pm - 4 pm - Uke Performance Skills - Manatee Orchestra - Sharrie (UKE) Living Room

4:15 pm - 5:15 pm - Fun With Galax-Style Dulcimer Tuning - Richard (MD) Gazebo

4:15 pm - 5:15 pm - Manatee Orchestra for Hammered Dulcimer, Pennywhistle, & Steel Drum - Guy (HD, PW, SD) Living Room

5:30 pm - Dinner on your own

7:30 pm - 9 pm - Jam Under the Stars - Gazebo

Friday 2/23

8 am - Doors open

8:30 am - 9:30 am -  One song, IN DEPTH - Richard (MD) Living Room

9:45 am - 10:45 am - Hammered Dulcimer Duets - Intermediate  - Guy (HD, PW, SD) HD Dining Room

9:45 am - 10:45 am - Mountain Dulcimer - The Secret To Chord Melody Style - Bing (MD) Gazebo

11 am - 12 pm - Mountain Dulcimer - Learn “Margaritaville”! - Bing (MD) Gazebo

12 pm - Deep Dive - Guy (TBA) Game Room

12:30 pm - 1:30 pm - Ukulele All levels— Essential Chords and Strums - Sharrie (UKE) Living Room

1:45 pm - 2:45 pm - Make A Melody Great By Leaving Out Some Of The Notes - Richard (MD) Living Room

1:45 pm - 2:45 pm - Pennywhistle - All levels - Easy Chromatics in Songs - Guy (PW) Gazebo

3 pm - 4 pm - Mountain Dulcimer - Slide Dulcimer - Bing (MD) Gazebo

4:15 pm - 5:15 pm - Celebrating Harry Belafonte - “King of Calypso!” - Past Beginner & Above - Sharrie (UKE) Living Room

6:30 pm - 9 pm - Gulf Coast Seafood Boil/Jam Under the Stars - Embark on an Old Florida culinary adventure with our Seafood Boil featuring shrimp, potatoes, sausage, and corn, all seasoned to perfection. Paired with vibrant side salads and refreshing libations, this is how we roll as the sun sets. Then, join in a jam session under the stars to close out the night.

Saturday 2/24

8 am - Doors open

8:30 am - 9:30 am - Play Melody with Ukulele Duets - Intermediate Sharrie (UKE) Gazebo

9:45 am - 10:45 am - Learning To Play Native American Flute - Bing (NAF) Gazebo

9:45 am - 10:45 am - Celebrating Harry Belafonte - “King of Calypso!” Pennywhistle - Intermediate Guy (PW) Living Room

10 am - Deep Dive - Sharrie (TBA) Game Room

11 am - 12 pm - Dulcimer Amplification In The 21st Century - Richard (GEAR) Garage

12:30 pm - 1:30 pm - Manatee Orchestra - Mountain Dulcimers - Bing (MD) Living Room

1:45 pm - 4 pm - Manatee Orchestra Rehearsal (ALL) -  Living Room

5 pm - Dinner on your own

7 pm - 9 pm -  The Manatee Orchestra will open up the Saturday evening concert in the round

Sunday 2/25

8 am - Doors open

9:00 am - 10:00 am - Sunday Morning Coming Down - Bing (ALL) Living Room

10:30 am - Farewell, and Bon Voyage! (heading home...or continuing on to The Castaway Music Cruise)

Guy George Workshops

Guy George Workshops

Beginning Pennywhistle - Take it from the top! Learn this fun and easy to carry instrument in an hour and be playing in 2 keys! Refresh your skills if it’s been a while or if you just want to warm up for the cruise! A “D” whistle is needed for this class! 

Get Up to Speed on Hammered Dulcimer - All LevelsReview, Renew, and warm up your playing as we cover chords, arpeggios and more while we learn a few fun tunes! Perfect for Beginners and more experienced players as well! We’ll have something for everyone! 

Manatee Orchestra - Hammered Dulcimer, Pennywhistle, Steel Drum - All Levels! Learn and/or practice the Manatee Orchestra tunes and be ready for the Concert on Saturday Night! A great way to “play well with others” and have fun playing in a group setting! 

Celebrating Harry Belafonte - “King of Calypso!” Pennywhistle - Intermediate - Learn some great island tunes with melody, harmony, added “licks” and “tricks”! Practice some amazing rhythms and see how easy it can be to play more syncopated melodies and rhythms! Tablature will be provided for all handouts. “D” whistle needed. 

Hammered Dulcimer Duets - Intermediate Team up with another dulcimer player and learn how to play some great tunes for two! We’ll trade off playing with each other, see how to work with another player and how to “listen”. These tunes can be played with other instruments and your group as well! 

Pennywhistle - All levels - Easy Chromatics in Songs - Expand your playing by adding some chromatic notes and learn easier ways to play them. We’ll learn a few tunes and find the chromatics with you! We’ll have melody and harmony for each tune as well. Tablature will be provided for all handouts. “D” whistle needed. 

Thursday “After Classes” *** Sangria Steel Drum Happy Hour! - Join us for a chilled glass of Sangria, and enjoy a demonstration, workshop, and steel drum fun! Bring your Jumbie Jam Steel Drum and stay for the workshop! Those who play are welcome to add to the demonstration - if you’ve never played before, now you can try one! Become an island music player on Steel Drum! 

Sharrie George Workshops

Sharrie George Workshops

Beginning Ukulele - For those who have never played a Uke before, or for anyone wanting to “refresh” your memory and get up to speed again on ukulele! We’ll cover all the basics, including basic strums, chords, & practice tips; we’ll also learn a few great ukulele tunes! Great warm up for the week! 

Ukulele All levels— Essential Chords and Strums - Learn, review, and master some of our “necessary” chords and strums. Too often we try to learn “songs”, but don’t focus on the rhythm and how they actually sound when we play. Gain confidence to really ‘play out” even if you’re just strumming chords! Make each tune sound different and great! We’ll learn some fun tunes while we focus on really sounding good! 

Celebrating Harry Belafonte - “King of Calypso!” - Past Beginner & AboveHave fun with the calypso sounds of Harry Belafonte as we learn some of his amazing music! Learn the strums, chords, and sounds of the islands! 

Play Melody with Ukulele Duets - IntermediateLearn to read tablature and team up with another Uke player and learn how to play some great tunes for two! We’ll trade off playing with each other, see how to work with another player. These tunes can be played with other instruments as well! 

Uke Performance Skills - Manatee Orchestra - All Levels - No matter how large or small our audience, we all want to sound our best. Learn and Practice the Manatee Orchestra tunes as we focus on performing each tune and sounding great as individual players and as a group. Be part of the Manatee Orchestra on Saturday night - even if you’re a beginner, there will be a part for you! 

Bing Futch Workshops

Bing Futch Workshops

Mountain Dulcimer Fundamentals

Whether you’re a beginning player, or a returning one, we’ll cover 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. (Beginner)

Learn “Margaritaville”!

Learn my arrangement of Jimmy Buffet’s classic tune, “Margaritaville” without the fear of losing your shaker of salt!  I’ll teach two versions of the piece; one will be an instrumental, and the other will be a simpler version with chords and riffs so you can take the vocal lead and sing along! (Intermediate-Advanced)

Mountain Dulcimer - The Secret To Chord Melody Style

There is a secret to creating a compelling arrangement on the mountain dulcimer.  It involves keeping the melody as the focus while still allowing for dynamics of countermelody and rhythm.  In this workshop, you will learn how to take a simple melody into a full-fledged arrangement. (Intermediate)

Learning 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. (Beginner to Intermediate)

Sunday Morning Coming Down

This has become a tradition for a number of years at the retreat and is a great way to wind down after three full days of fun!  Here’s your chance to reflect on new things that you’ve learned, ask questions, get clarification and share lightbulb moments with the group.  It’s always an easy-going good way to start the final day! (ALL)

Richard Ash Workshops

Richard Ash Workshops

Learn Ten New Songs By Watching Hands

In this workshop, we'll use our eyes and ears to learn ten new songs, not with tablature, but the old-fashioned way - by watching hands. We'll go through "how" to pick up a tune the traditional way, and then jump right in to putting those concepts to work.

One song, IN DEPTH

This one isn't particularly challenging as a song, but there's a LOT we can do with it. The song "Long Journey Home" (aka Two-Dollar Bill) has a simple melody, but we will work together on making it fancy, and making a performance version that is OURS. This is going to be fun!

Make A Melody Great By Leaving Out Some Of The Notes

Once you know a tune, it is tricky to simplify it, but as a solo instrumentalist, you need to know how this technique makes a performance really special. We'll listen to one of the greatest (of all time!) simplified melodies - in a non-dulcimer performance, then model that artist's style with a traditional dulcimer tune. This is harder than it sounds, but SO VERY REWARDING!

Dulcimer Amplification In The 21st Century

Pickups of all varieties, microphones, cables, speakers, amplifiers. Good grief, this can get complicated, and fast. We'll keep it simple - we're not planning on amplifying Taylor Swift on stage at a 50,000 seat stadium - but there's a LOT to unpack and understand, at least on a "broad-strokes" level. I'll bring several varieties of pickups for you to hear, a few amplifiers to play with, and even a few cables to examine. We'll do some experimenting, and you'll come away with a better knowledge base for your next gig.

Fun With Galax-Style Dulcimer Tuning

We'll start with a little history lesson (just a few minutes, I promise!), then we'll retune our dulcimers to a traditional Galax (Virginia) tuning. You'll fall in love with the sound, guaranteed! Lots of songs, lots of strumming, lots of fun. Did you know that, with a Galax style tuning, you can play both D and A tunes without capos, without retuning, without any fuss at all? You're going to like this. A lot. Trust me.

Sunday, July 2, 2023


Registration is now open for the 10th Annual Florida Gulf Coast Dulcimer Retreat in Homosassa Springs, Florida, taking place from February 22nd through 25th. This exciting event will be held at Hampton House, a beautiful 2-acre estate situated on the river. Please note that space is limited to 65 registrants, so make sure to secure your spot early.

This year, we are thrilled to introduce special Deep-Dive sessions in the upstairs game room, allowing participants to more fully explore their chosen instrument. Our esteemed instructors include:

  1. Guy George: Expert in hammered dulcimer, pennywhistle, and steel drum.
  2. Sharrie George: Ukulele specialist.
  3. Bing Futch: Renowned for mountain dulcimer and Native American flute.
  4. Richard Ash: Mountain dulcimer player and the owner of Folkcraft Instruments, a proud sponsor of the event.

Attendees will have the opportunity to choose from a variety of classes, including mountain dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, Native American flute, pennywhistle, steel drum, ukulele, and repertoire-building. This diverse selection ensures that there's something for everyone, regardless of skill level or musical preference.

In addition to the enriching classes, registrants will have the chance to join the Manatee Orchestra, offering a unique opportunity to be the opening act for the Saturday evening concert. It's an experience you won't want to miss!

To secure your spot and join us for this fantastic retreat, use the registration drop-down menu at the top right of the page. Workshop descriptions and the schedule for the four days will be posted soon!

Monday, February 27, 2023


Thanks to all of our guests for making this such a sweet homecoming!  It was a wonderful week and weekend of musical fun and relaxation.  The response was so positive that we went ahead and booked The Hampton House for our 10th annual retreat, February 22nd - 25th, 2024!

Here are just a few glimpses of the good times shared by all.  Registration will open SOON for next year and will be limited to 50 attendees, so subscribe to this page and watch for an announcement in March! 

Safe travels home to everyone - many of us will be continuing on to the Castaway Music Cruise this weekend for even more musical serendipity!

Thanks again for coming together and helping us usher in a new chapter for the Florida Gulf Coast Dulcimer Retreat!

P.S.  If you have pictures and video from the event, and would like to share them with us for promotional purposes, please contact Bing.  Also, be sure to follow our Facebook page to stay up-to-date on the latest!