Butch Ross can't do anything right.
He plays the mountain dulcimer.
He plays it standing up like a guitar.
He holds it upside and strung backwards.
And Butch Ross plays rock n roll on it.
Despite all this wrongness, somehow it all sounds just right.
Okay, sure, he plays his own funny, poignant songs and some traditional mountain tunes, but somehow, in Butch's hands, they rock, too.
Besides, it's pretty clear that Led Zeppelin always intended for "Stairway to Heaven" to be played on the dulcimer. It just took Butch to figure it out.
Butch Ross was given a mountain dulcimer for his birthday a few years ago, at the time the regionally touring singer/songwriter had no idea of the impact the instrument would have on his career. "I thought it's be cool to have one around the house, but I found myself playing it more and more. It had made music fun for me in a way that I hadn't felt since I first picked up the guitar."
More than "making music fun," this primitive mountain instrument began to open doors for him too. Not long after adopting the dulcimer he met Robert Force a musician, producer, independent label owner and all-around hippy who had once written a best-selling book on the mountain dulcimer. He saw in Butch "a spirit, talent and vision" that he last saw in his own idol; 60's folk-icon Richard Farina. Almost immediately, he offered to sign him to his Blaine St. Records and produce, for free, his debut CD "the Moonshiner's Atlas."
The dulcimer has opened other doors for Butch Ross as well: a full-ride scholarship for a graduate degree in folk studies, a quickly-earned reputation amongst the dulcimer community as one of the most innovative and exciting players on the scene, endorsement offers, including one builder who working with him on a "Butch Ross Signature Model," opening slots for wide variety of performers from Hayseed Dixie and Little Country Giants to the Jazz Mandolin Project, Great Big Sea and the legendary Jean Ritchie. Additionally the dulcimer has found him invited to play festivals and clubs in England, Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, Germany and most recently Budapest, Hungary.
Sean Phipps of the Chattanooga Times Free Press says, "His set consisted of folk songs and various instrumentals, including blistering version of Richard Thompson's '1952 Vincent Black Lightning' and The Beatles' 'Eleanor Rigby.' We're lucky to have such a talented, interesting musician living in Chattanooga."
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