Thursday, July 3, 2014


Last weekend Bruce and I drove to Newport, PA, in Little Buffalo State Park, to attend the annual Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering. I've been playing the autoharp seriously for 45 years, and this was my first autoharp festival. I've attended many folk festivals, and other traditional festivals, contests and events, but never one solely devoted to autoharps. It was a heavenly experience! We were only there for a part of the festival, since we drove in after work on Friday, and went home Saturday evening.

A photo of me playing the autoharp with my friend Guy Randle, Provo Canyon, Utah, 1975

On Friday evening, we enjoyed the National Autoharp Championship (which I was unable to photograph due to restrictions), and then I participated in a Gospel jam afterwards, just to warm up.  How fun to be surrounded by so many autoharpists of all levels and techniques!

We slept in our car that night. The Festival was at a campground, and most of the attendees camped in campers or tents, and a few lucky ones had cabins. But our SUV has seats that fold down, and Bruce brought along our soft foam mattress topper from home, so the accommodations weren't that bad.

Saturday was full of workshops and jams, and I participated in as many as I could. I found some solitary time to play by myself too, just to practice some tunes I wanted to work on. I was able to meet Drew Smith, who is a multi-time Autoharp champion, and lives near us in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ. He had a booth at the festival, and I sat and chatted with him for at least an hour, and purchased some new chord felts to replace my worn and pathetic ones.  Bruce found his own quiet place off-site to get some work done, unbothered by the sound of hundreds of autoharps.

Here are a few photos of the event:

The lake at Little Buffalo State Park

The winners of the Autoharp Contest

Luthiers set up their displays to share their latest musical creations

Gorgeous D'Aigle luthier autoharp

Not everyone played the autoharp

Limbering up with a limber-jack

The fabulous Bonnie Phipps entertains at the Saturday evening concert

In addition to the autoharp, legend Ivan Stiles played the musical saw


Ashley Calder said...

I love seeing your photos. Looks like it was a very nice time!

Solange J. said...

I didn't know this instrument, it looks awesome!

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