2016 SOUTHERN STRINGS DULCIMER FESTIVAL & Deep South Dulcimer Championship




Deep South Dulcimer Championship

Well– all is quite on the trail now that the Southern Strings Dulcimer Festival is over.  All reports indicate that it was another success and plans are in the making for next year’s BIG Anniversary Celebration.  Deep South Dulcimer Championship was certainly a heated competition this year with so many entries.  Congrats to all the contestants and those who placed.


Mountain Dulcimer First Place – MARK GILSTON – Austin, TX

Mountain Dulcimer Second Place – Aaron Thornton – LA

Mountain Dulcimer Third Place – Jessica Comeau – Pensacola, FL



Hammered Dulcimer First Place – Colin Beasley – Mobile, AL

Hammered Dulcimer Second Place – Don Hill – Petal, MS

Hammered Dulcimer Third Place – Brenda Rollinson – Summit, MS 




3rd Week in February


“Beautiful Campus Atmosphere”

498 Tuscan Ave.- Hattiesburg, MS 39401

2016 Festival Pictures –





Joe CollinsSmallcowboy-hat-clip-art

Joe Collins began playing the dulcimer in the late 70s and has been a popular instructor/performer in festivals around the country for years.  He has five recordings nine popular tab books to his credit as well as a number of championships, including the 2007 National Mountain Dulcimer Championship.  Joe loves teaching and has a doctorate in Adult Education.  In addition to teaching dulcimer, he teaches Discipleship Studies as an associate professor at Gardner-Webb University.  Thus he has plenty of opportunity to share the two greatest passions in his life:  his music and his faith in Christ.

Links:  Joe’s Website


cowboy_hat_311152Don Pedi has been collecting, preserving and performing traditional Appalachian music for more than four decades. He has spent most of his life working, playing music and living alongside old time country musicians in North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia.  He has developed a playing style that translates the older style fiddle and banjo tunes, ballads and songs to the dulcimer, while maintaining the traditional rhythms and stylistic sensibilities.

A gentle and humorous teacher, Don shares his love of traditional music and the mountain dulcimer in a class setting that is supportive and non competitive.

Links: Don’s Website



JESS DICKINSON is the owner and publisher of DickinsonDulcimer.Com.  Jess has an undergraduate degree from Mississippi State University and a law degree from the University of Mississippi.  He practiced law in Gulfport for 22 years and, in 2002, was elected to serve as a justice on the Mississippi Supreme Court, where he now is serving his second term.

Jess has played and taught guitar and hammered dulcimer for twenty-five years.  His popular regional bluegrass band — The Bluegrass Appeal — has played numerous concert, radio, and festival venues.  In 2011, The Bluegrass Appeal released their first CD – “From Dublin to the Delta” – a pleasant mix of Irish, Delta Blues, and gospel music.  The CD is available on Amazon, CD Baby, and can be ordered on the home page of this website.

Co-Host of our Deep South Dulcimer Championship each year!

Links:  DickinsonDulcimer.com.

RobDulcimer 420x336canstock25458169ROB ANGUS, More than 15 years experience helping students in the Birmingham, AL area learn to play hammered and Appalachian dulcimers. He has  taught workshops at numerous festivals.  Rob has been playing stringed instruments his whole life and the hammered dulcimer since 1986. He has performed for concerts, weddings, receptions, parties, retirement homes, dulcimer festivals, etc. both solo and with others. His trio, AFTER CLASS, has produced six albums. In addition, Rob and dulcimer virtuoso Denise Guillory have recorded an album. Rob (now retired) was a biology professor at UAB for 33 years where he gained lots of teaching experience. He has taught workshops on both hammered and mountain dulcimer at numerous festivals and has also given private lessons for more than 20 years.



RICHARD SWITZER, is retired from: Mississippi State Univ. and USDA-ARS.  He loves music and loves to  learn to play as many new instruments as possible.  Richard is an accomplished Mountain Dulcimer player as well as a Psaltery player.  At our Festival, Richard will conduct several workshops on the Psaltery and will be available help with any problems you may have with the upkeep of your instrument while at the Festival.    Richard has been playing Dulcimer for over 10 years and the Psaltery for over 6 years.   He also plays Auto-harp, & Ukelele.  Richard is a member of several groups in Mississippi including, Columbus: Friendly City Strummers, Philadelphia: Wayfaring Strings, Starkville: Dulcimers & is a member of Southern Strings Dulcimers as well.


902946538363e0bcdbc374ec626ec1b0MARY JO WARD competes nationally with her Auto-Harp, and plays pieces including “76 Trombones”. She brings her students a wealth of experience in old-time, Appalachian and gospel music.  She has been playing the auto-harp for many years and has developed her own distinctive style.  She can really drive a fast fiddle tune or bring out the beauty of a waltz or air.  She has also enjoys singing with the auto-harp. 

She has taught beginners at the Buckeye Dulcimer Festival, Dayton Dulcimer Club and at several Dayton area locations.  Mary Jo has competed at the nationally-recognized Mountain Laurel Auto-harp Festival and looks forward to that yearly challenge.   Her warm and engaging style will have you enjoying your auto-harp in no time. 
Mary Jo has many talents and she is going to share them with us.  She will conduct a class for all those who would like to learn to Yodel.  You don’t want to miss this one!
Jessica Comeau has been playing the mountain dulcimer for over 12 years. She enjoys discovering, composing, and arranging music, especially music within the Celtic, British, medieval, and Appalachian folk traditions.  Jessica is a founding member of the Pensacola Mountain Dulcimer Wildflowers project, and she continues to perform, learn new music, and teach other dulcimer players. She has competed and placed in several dulcimer championships and has taught at national and regional dulcimer festivals. On her YouTube channel, Jessica shares her unique music on the mountain dulcimer with music lovers from around the world. The mountain dulcimer also provides a musical outreach for ministry at her church. Jessica holds a B.A. degree in English, an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, and certification to teach English 6-12 and Humanities K-12 in the state of Florida. She enjoys sharing her passion for music, literature, art, and the humanities and the ways in which these disciplines mutually enrich each other. She enjoys teaching and learning from other players how the mountain dulcimer can be a fertile source of personal enrichment. Jessica has released her first solo album, “Songs of the Earthly Pilgrimage: Medieval and World Folk Music on the Appalachian Mountain Dulcimer.”


Lisa Oivanki holds both undergraduate and masters degrees in music education and music performance with honors from LSU where  she was a member of the internationally acclaimed LSU A Cappella Choir and performed leading roles with the Opera Theater.

Lisa has been a member of the Lagniappe Dulcimer Society in Baton Rouge, Louisiana since 2005.   She has co-chaired 3 of the very popular Lagniappe Dulcimer Fetes in 2007, 2011 and 2015.    She has also served as Education Chair and heads up the Farmer’s Market Jam held on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month in downtown Baton Rouge.

She is an accomplished composer and arranger of music for the mountain dulcimer.   Many of the tunes heard being played on the Thursday night concerts at the annual Lagniappe Dulcimer Fete have  been  composed or arranged for mountain dulcimer by Lisa.

In 2015 Lisa placed 1st in the Southern Strings Mountain Dulcimer Championship and returns this year to perform and also teach a class on the dulcimer and folk orchestra, using her arrangement of Simple Gifts for mountain dulcimer in DAA and DAD.

She is currently the band director and teaches middle school Spanish at Victory Academy in Baton Rouge.   She is also the music director for Plainview Baptist Church in Walker, Louisiana.   Lisa is a multi-instrumentalist and provides private instruction in mountain dulcimer,  guitar, piano, mandolin, bouzouki, banjo, trumpet, trombone, clarinet and voice for children and adults  at her private studio, Chrysalis,  in Watson, Louisiana.


Donna Switzer is an accomplished multi-instrumental player and performer who has been playing Mountain dulcimer, both DAA & DAD, for more than 8 years.
Additionally, she has played Fiddle 5+ years and has been a student of David Bragger,  Los Angeles CA (Old Time Fiddle).  Donna will be teaching Beginner Fiddle during the Festival.  Other instruments include:  Hammered Dulcimer, Mandolin, some banjo, and some Ukulele.   She has been a competitor in the  “Deep South Dulcimer Championship” in both Mountain and Hammered dulcimer and received 2nd place in both categories.

Donna’s love for the dulcimer begin when she visited the MUSEUM of the SHENANDOAH VALLEY in Virginia. She happened upon Maddy MacNeill playing in the gift shop and Donna was hooked.  She has since attended many festival  and has enjoyed workshops conducted by some of the Top Names in the dulcimer field.
Donna shares her love of the the Dulcimer with her husband Richard Switzer who is also on staff for the 2016 Festival.
In her spare time she works full time with Mississippi State University in Starkville, MS and adores her two rabbits;   Boo, French Angora 3 years old, and Almond Joy, Dwarf Lionhead (Boo look alike), 5 months old. One is a 10 pounder and the other a heavy weight at 1 pound 8 ounces.  She will show you pictures if you ask.

Weekly meetings


Dixie School Historic Log Cabin

Dixie School Historic Log Cabin

We meet weekly at the Dixie School Log Cabin!

Located at the intersection of Elks Lake Road and Dixie Barn Road.  

     725 Elks Lake Road

Hattiesburg, MS 39401

Tuesday evenings at 6:00 pm with instructional time and a Jam session at 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm.

Beginner to advanced players, all welcomed.