Sam Edelston is unique in his focus on taking songs that people already know and love, and making them sound like they were written for the mountain dulcimer. His mission is to bring dulcimer music to the broad, general public.
Click to PERFORMANCES page for full details:
Online, February 2-5, QuaranTUNE Dulcimer Festival 9.0
Latham, NY, March 3-5, Mountain Dulcimer Music Festival (Dulcimer Association of Albany) - Featured artist
Littleton, CO, May 4-6, Colorado Dulcimer Festival
Shepherdsville, KY, June 25-30, Kentucky Music Week
On August 5, 2022, Sam was the guest on Folkcraft's Livestream Interview, hosted by Mandy Tyner. They talked about his musical background, equipment, philosophy on dulcimers, and much more.
On July 23, 2022, Sam was one of the performers at FabFest, an excellent Beatles festival in Charlotte, North Carolina. TV station WCNC mentioned Sam, though not by name, in a writeup of the event on its website: "The crowd heard a wide mix of takes on Beatles songs such as Spanish renditions of 'Don't Let Me Down' and 'Till There Was You' to an acoustic version of 'Help' to even an Appalachian dulcimer adaptation of 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.'"
He told the audience, "I believe that dulcimers ought to be Here, There, and Everywhere -- and someday maybe even Across the Universe." In this highlight video, he starts at 8:04.
Sam has posted more than 80 videos online, spanning many musical genres and totaling more than 1,000,000 views.
Sam's latest video is this showcase set of (mostly) original songs. https://youtu.be/ft-xL6uY62U Performed at the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance Conference (NERFA) in November 2022.
He has twice had the cosmic good fortune to go viral: In 2019 with the Ramones' punk hit, "I Wanna Be Sedated," and in 2014 with Led Zeppelin's classic, "Whole Lotta Love." Sam's videos of both of these songs have been viewed over 300,000 times; if you exclude renowned dulcimer players Joni Mitchell, Cyndi Lauper, and the Rolling Stones, that number has only been reached by only a handful of mountain dulcimer videos. You can't make virality happen -- the world bestows it on you, and it is an incredibly special gift. Thank you, World!
And see below for another unique story.
Sam has many more great songs and other projects in the works. Some of the best is yet to come!
The renowned Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, AZ, included Sam's video of Neil Diamond's song, "Sweet Caroline," in its dulcimer display. How big is it to have been selected for this? Well, the only other mountain dulcimer artist in the video loop is the legendary Jean Ritchie singing to Pete Seeger.
UPDATE: In June 2020, a MIM curator filmed a 10-minute quarantine mini-tour of the zither and dulcimer exhibit. Sam's video is prominently featured through much of the second half, including just showing the video for half a minute. See below!
Sam Edelston is an entertainer with many facets. In recent years, he has been pushing the creative boundaries of the mountain dulcimer. He does songs that span the rock & roll era and decades (or sometimes centuries) before that, plus folk, original songs, funny songs, shout-alongs, and more. He also performs on guitar, banjo, and occasionally hammered dulcimer, and sings.
Sam is on a mission: "I believe that dulcimers are among the world's coolest musical instruments. I want the general public to know dulcimers the way it knows guitars and pianos."
He also chairs the NUTMEG DULCIMER FESTIVAL, which in normal years is held in Milford, Connecticut. The Nutmeg Team will announce its plans for the 2022 festival soon. Sign up to get more details at www.NutmegDulcimer.com
"Displaying a frightening amount of rock mojo for a guy who seems fairly quiet and unassuming, Edelston used his amplified three-string mountain dulcimer to roar his way through ‘Whole Lotta Love’ without so much as breaking a sweat. After watching this, we’re ready to jump in a van and follow Edelston around on tour."
“'You can’t do that on a dulcimer!' Well, maybe you can’t but Sam Edelston can. Sam has taken the mountain dulcimer from its backwoods Appalachian origins to genres most players never dreamed of, from bossa nova to bluegrass to Black Sabbath. His instruments range from the traditional 3-string diatonic to fully chromatic electric with two pedalboards. He is being featured in dulcimer festivals across the country. Sam is a brilliant and innovative player, and no slouch on the hammered dulcimer or guitar either. Sam’s skewed sensibilities on what might be 'appropriate' for the dulcimer extend to his music as well. Look for parodies, mash-ups, and other delightfully warped songs from this innovative musician."
-- The Folk Project
"Wow. Beautiful version."
-- Chris Frantz. Talking Heads drummer, commenting on Sam's cover of their hit, Psycho Killer
"Thank you for that great version! Dance Safely!"
-- Ivan Doroschuk,
lead singer of the band Men Without Hats, reacting to Sam's cover of the band's hit, "Safety
"I've never heard a dulcimer sound so much like a guitar before."
-- Jose Feliciano, after hearing Sam's rendition of The Girl from Ipanema
"Connecticut resident Sam Edelston is a dulcimer wizard who has used the old-time instrument to cover classic rock songs in the past. We're in awe of one of his most recent covers as he does a bang-up job of tackling Led Zeppelin's 'Whole Lotta Love.'"
"You gotta have a class with Sam."
-- Nancy Barker, founder and director of Kentucky Music Week
"This is one of the 5 coolest things I've ever seen/heard on dulcimer ... and the other 4 were all with Sam as well!"
-- Dulcimer master Tull Glazener, after seeing a video of Sam performing "I Can See Clearly Now" with Nicki Parrott's jazz trio. (Nicki was Les Paul's regular bassist in his later years.)
"With his complex layered arrangements of so many genres of music for the dulcimer, Sam has added a huge chapter to the development of the mountain dulcimer as a versatile and ever growing musical American folk instrument."
-- Dulcimer legend Joellen Lapidus, writing at Folkworks.org
"Our day with Sam Edelston was a great success. We learned so much. This video gives you a slight example of the caliber of performer that Sam Edelston is. We have never seen anything like it. Our workshops were challenging and fantastic. Sam's performance was out of this world. It was an incredible day!"
-- Misery Bay Dulcimer Club, Erie, PA
“Today, I attended Sam Edelston’s workshop on Rock & Roll chord progressions for dulcimer and holy crap, now I can play Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” on Lulabelle so well I got a ceiling bang from the Trolls who live in the subterranean cavern, and a “SHUT THE FU....wait, is that Chuck Berry?”
I strummed harder and laughed maniacally. They shut the fu— up and listened.
Apparently, they are Trolls with Soul. After I finished the last lick there was a silence, then a muffled “Props, bitch.”
-- Workshop attendee Maryam Webster.
"Rosie's daddy came in and sang to us today. He was so much fun. Can he be my daddy, too?"
-- Rebecca, age 4