The dulcimer lives on

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Listening to Karen Mueller play the dulcimer makes me wish that back in the day, I’d bought a kit from Len and Su MacEachron and learned to play the instrument.

That’s Karen, above, captured in motion on the dulcimer in a lesson with one of her students at the Homestead Pickin’ Parlor in Richfield by MPR’s Jeff Thompson.

Now deceased, the MacEachron’s were part of the center of the Twin Cities folk music scene in the 1970s and on.

This obituary of Len tells the story. They sold musical instruments including dulcimer kits from their Dinkytown store next to the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. More than that, they helped preserve old time, Appalachian music and pass it along to the next generation.

Karen Mueller carries on the dulcimer tradition, and I’ll tell you about her in my lastest installment of Minnesota Sounds and Voices today during All Things Considered on the Minnesota Public Radio News stations and at

On Sunday you can hear a rarely performed classical piece which features the three-stringed music box as a solo instrument. Karen joins the Lirica Chamber Ensemble Sunday afternoon at Grace University Lutheran Church in Minneapolis in a performance of Blackberry Winter composed by Conni Ellisor.

Karen says she found her tribe as she puts it – that’s the old time music crowd – while growing up in Winfield, Kansas. The city is home to the Walnut Valley Festival. It grew to become one of the country’s premier gatherings for fiddling and finger picking enthusiasts.

I, for one, would like to nominate Karen for native Minnesota status since she’s lived her 24 years including winters.

Did I mention that the Sunday event is free?

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