Of Glass Harps and Mountain Dulcimers

Mar 12, 2018 | 0 comments

Michael Greiner and The Glass Harp

I (personally) know only one person who plays the glass harp – Michael Greiner.  And, until yesterday, I’ve only know one person who played the mountain dulcimer – Harlan Kinsey who I think has been playing in the great beyond for fifty years or more.  I don’t really “connect” the two instruments except that I love them both and you just don’t meet a lot of people who play either one.

But, yesterday up in Grayland on the search for cranberry information (a new book project… don’t ask) my new friend Connie Allen mentioned that she is “Career A-D-D” as in she’s had a lot of them.  I already know her as a bog owner and as a recently ‘retired’ tall ship captain, so I asked what other jobs she’s had.  It seems that she was a musician for a number of years – on the East Coast and later, in San Diego.

Connie On Board

“Appalachian Dulcimer” she said in answer to my question.  I love that instrument!  I connect it with the late fifties and early sixties and with Berkeley and with the folk revolution and with the first glimmers of the segue from Beat to Hippie.  I was only an onlooker.  Too old (was I 25?) and settled (married with a Kindergartener) to be part of it.  But I had friends in the thick of it all … especially artists and musicians.

Why I connected the dots is beyond me, but I said, “I know someone in San Diego – at least he used to live in that area – who plays the glass harp…”  Not that the dulcimer and glass harp have any particular relationship…

“Oh,” Connie said.  “Is it Mike?”  Talk about that old six-degree thing!  And it got better.  ” I went to a music gathering he hosted on the Peninsula a few years ago,” Connie said, “at…” and here she hesitated.  After all, how can you describe Camp Sherwood Forest?

Alan Greiner — c. 1948

For one thing Sherwood no longer exists – not officially.  But it’s a place forever in the hearts and souls of everyone who ever went there as a kid or a young adult.  I was a camper there in the ’40s and ’50s.  So was Alan Greiner who eventually bought Camp from Dorothy Elliott.  Alan is the father of Michael-of-the-glass-harp.  Marta and Charlie were campers there in the sixties – right along with Michael and his brother and sister.  Wow!  And how would I ever have thought to connect the glass harp and the mountain dulcimer…

It was the second time Connie and I had found a connection – on our first meeting a few weeks back, it was the Lady Washington which she skippered (for real) and on which Nyel reenacted the role of Captain Robert Gray back in the ’80s.  Wow!!  What will it be next time, Connie?  Actually… I hope it’s just the chance to get better acquainted based on the here and now.

But… you never know!

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