Who ON EARTH is Sam?

ONe side

Sam Edelston performing on electric dulcimer at The Bitter End, Greenwich Village, New York, February 2020. (Photo: Adrienne "Rocknation" Collier)
On stage at The Bitter End in Greenwich Village, NYC. (Photo by Adrienne "Rocknation" Collier)

Sam Edelston believes that dulcimers are among the world's coolest musical instruments, and is on a mission to make them as well-known to the general public as guitars and pianos.

 

He draws his musical inspiration from rock bands, symphony orchestras, modern a cappella, and anything else that crosses his path. His mountain dulcimer repertoire ranges from blues to bossa nova to bluegrass, Gilbert & Sullivan to Sousa, African to Andrews Sisters, and especially all over the rock & roll spectrum.

 

On acoustic and electric dulcimer, his music videos have garnered over 900,000 views and been watched in more than 190 countries. He has twice gone viral, with covers of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" and The Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated," and his video of Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" is shown at the dulcimer display in Arizona's renowned Musical Instrument Museum.

 

Based in Connecticut, Sam has performed or taught at a variety of festivals and other venues around the northeast United States. and as far away as Kentucky, Minnesota, Louisiana, and Colorado (with Mississippi, North Carolina, and California coming later in 2020 or in 2021).

 

Sam also is chair of the Nutmeg Dulcimer Festival, which is held in Milford, Connecticut, USA, every October.

Photo of Sam Edelston's Rod Matheson electric dulcimer, on a stand, with two pedalboards underneath.
Electric dulcimer with pedalboards.

Another side

Sam Edelston on guitar at the Folk Music Society of New York Fall Festival, 2017.
Performing on guitar for the Folk Music Society of New York.

Dulcimers, dulcimers, dulcimers! That's all they talk about these days! But before that, he was into a lot of other things.

 

Around age 13-14, Sam discovered pop, rock, and country radio, and also started making up songs and playing guitar. By the end of high school, he had written over 400 songs. (His major songwriting influences were Tom Lehrer, Shel Silverstein, and Dick Feller -- which probably explains a lot.) 

 

During those years, Sam also discovered the vibrant New Jersey folk music scene and a wonderful crowd called the Folk Project, and he fell in love with the sound of the hammered dulcimer.

 

After a decade of being the token guitarist at dulcimer festivals, he finally took up the hammered dulcimer himself. A dozen years later, he became chair of the nascent Nutmeg Dulcimer Festival, and only then did he take up mountain dulcimer.

Backing Rick Thum (hammered dulcimer) at Nutmeg Dulcimer Festival. Carol Walker (bass), Sharon Grimshaw (fiddle), Sam Edelston (guitar).
Backing Rick Thum (hammered dulcimer) at Nutmeg Dulcimer Festival. Carol Walker (bass), Sharon Grimshaw (fiddle), Sam Edelston (guitar).