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Sherri FarleySherri's love of dulcimer music grew from a Christmas recording of handcrafted mountain instruments. In 1990, she purchased a mountain dulcimer and familiarized herself with playing in the traditional mountain style. Attending a dulcimer festival a year later, she came upon the larger, multi-stringed hammered dulcimer and was taken with its beautiful tones and visual playing patterns. Sherri was awarded an Illinois Arts Council Master/Apprentice grant to study the Hammerd Dulcimer. With an enthusiasm for this distinctive art form, Sherri passed the tradition along to many through workshops and private lessons.

Sherri has supported HANDS (Hammers and Noters Dulcimer Society) by organizing annual spring fund-raising concerts benefiting the Gebhard Woods Dulcimer Festival and serving on the festival planning committee. In the bluegrass community, she co-hosted monthly jam sessions and served on the board of directors of the Northern Illinois Bluegrass Association.

One of the greatest surprises and pleasures the music has brought into her personal life is the circle of wonderful people and ensuing friendships. She is reminded of her first major bluegrass festival, where a friend commented on how much he enjoyed returning to the festival year after year. "It's like a family reunion" he said, "except you like everyone!"

An anecdote Sherri enjoys sharing is to pass along a WARNING! she read in one of her early dulcimer books. It warned, "Dulcimer playing is addictive!" ...something to which she readily agrees, but quickly adds that as addictions go, one could do worse.

 

Fellow musicians Skip Sittig, Joy (Sittig) Ortiz, Jim Johnson, and Jill Stargardt have joined Sherri for recordings and numerous concerts. Their diverse music ranges from gentle waltzes to driven bluegrass, intermingled with smooth vocal numbers and novelty arrangements. Located in north-central Illinois, they have performed throughout Illinois and surrounding states. Appearances (performance highlights) have included the Chicago Botanic Gardens, the grand opening of the Chicago Museum Campus, downstate bluegrass festivals, and much in between.

Their first instrumental CD, Shade Tree Recollections, was titled in honor of all the songs learned and friends made at jams beneath old shade trees. Their second CD, This Place in Time, includes some vocal favorites by Skip and Joy. Often called “happy” and "soothing," the band's flavor of dulcimer music is best described as “old fashioned, toe-tapping fun.”

 

Performance Highlights

  • Concert performances have included many memorable places including the Chicago Botanic Gardens at Christmastime, the beautiful renovated Sandwich Opera House, Lombard's Maple Street Chapel, the Sandwich Fair, and WTTW-Channel 11's Center Stage Program.
  •  Open House entertainment for venues small and large, from specialty shops to the grand opening of downtown Chicago's Field Museum Campus. The band's melodic background music provides a special ambiance for special events at historical sites, village celebrations and Christmas walks.
  • Festival appearances include the Gebhard Woods Dulcimer Festival, Northern Illinois folk festivals, and downstate bluegrass festivals where the band has shared billings with bluegrass legends Jim & Jesse McReynolds, Jimmy Martin, and Rhonda Vincent.
  • Private engagements such as parties and weddings, club or corporate banquets
 
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