Festival Update


Calvary Baptist Church
1123 Hwy 42
Petal, MS. 39465

Petal is a continuance of Hattiesburg so it will only add a few miles to your distance coming to the festival.

The best directions would be that you get on I-59 (north towards Laurel) take exit 69 onto Evelyn Gandy Parkway/ Hwy 42. At the fourth stop light you will see Walmart to the left go through the stop light approximately 2 miles and the church will be on the left. (Petal high school sets just past the church so if you pass the high school you’ve gone too far. )
We will still have the dinner on Friday night but the menu will have to be modified as we have the food brought in. We will have a good meal for you and have lots of entertainment and fun.
If you have not made reservations in a hotel or camping area you need to make those as soon as possible. There are some cabins open at Johnson State Park if you’d like to drive that distance and also camping area at the park.
I will have the website updated is soon as possible as I am without Internet at this time due to the storm.
Registration form is still on the website as you need to get those in as soon as possible. *****If you plan to eat with us on Friday night you need to let us know ASAP! We have to place the catering order prior to the festival.

2017 SOUTHERN STRINGS DULCIMER FESTIVAL & Deep South Dulcimer Championship


Feb. 17-18, 2017

Pre-Festival Activity Thursday Feb. 16th



“Deep South Dulcimer Championship”

2017 marks the 20th Anniversary of Southern Strings as well as the 10th Birthday of our festival.  We are in the celebrating mood and want to share that celebration with you.  To commemorate our years, Southern Strings will be traveling back in time when we first got started in the Festival business.  We will be bringing back many of the activities of ten years ago and even have some new activities in the making.  The 2017 Registration Fee will reflect the same cost as it did in 2007 plus we will be doing more jamming, performing on stage and just fellow-shipping. We would like to invite each of  you to take advantage of these special opportunities that are being passed on to you in 2017. 

The special registration fee will be a ONE-TIME-EVENT FEE– of $10.00 for one day and a full festival fee (2 days) of $20.00. (This is our Birthday Present to you!)

OUR FESTIVAL GOAL–Put more FUN & FELLOWSHIP in our Festival!


DSCN0173INSTRUCTORS:  10 years ago we brought in one outside instructor to conduct a couple of workshops along with some local very competent dulcimer players who also conducted some sessions.  The rest of the time was spent jamming and making new dulcimer friends.  SO our take on this is to have an instructor in each of the following: Dulcimer, Hammered Dulcimer, Psaltery, Fiddle, Ukulele, and Auto Harp. Each Instructor will also head up some of the other special events.

  • DSCN0146JAMMING – Sessions throughout.





  • DSCN0077

    BAND SCRAMBLE – This will be a fun couple of sessions that everyone will be involved in.  All levels of players will be involved so it doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or advanced player.  There will be four (4) Band Scramble groups which will be made up of the festival attendees headed up by at least one Instructor.  Each group will meet several times during the 2 days to plan and practice at least 2 songs that will be presented on stage Saturday right after lunch.  You can play any instrument you would like as long as it is acoustical.  All our regular instruments are welcomed as well as guitar, bass, spoons, penny whistle, rhythm instruments, SING or dance along.  Each group will have to come up with their own Group name and can even dress alike, wear a special hair style or do something special…**it is encouraged.  Each group will be given a time limit for their performance.                FUN    FUN    FUN!


  • ORCHESTRA — Last year we had the most beautiful Dulcimer (&/or acoustical instruments) Orchestra lead by Lisa Oivanki and we look forward to having it again this year.  The Orchestra will also play on stage immediately after the Band Scramble.

  • DSCN0490OPEN-STAGE — We have been wanting to add Open Stage to our festival for sometime so we are making sure this is accomplished this year.  Open Stage will be for any dulcimer clubs who would like to perform or any group of folks who like to get together at home or at a festival to jam.  Any number of folks can play, 1-2-3-4 etc.  Only restriction is that any one person cannot perform in the On-Stage event over two (2) times.  Each group will be limited to two (2) songs each and will also have a time limit.  So get your group interested in coming and performing or call a couple of friends and plan to participate. (Open-Stage Rules on menu)


Quick Look at the Festival

THURSDAY NIGHT —  Birthday Party Jam with all the traditional delicious Birthday treats.

FRIDAY— Workshops & Jam session

FRIDAY NIGHT –“A Night on the Town” 20th Anniversary Dinner  & On-Stage Performances  

SATURDAY — Workshops & Jam Sessions – Band Scramble Performances – Orchestra performance

SATURDAY AFTERNOON — “Deep South Dulcimer Championship”        



2017 will be our 6th Annual Championship for both Mountain & Hammered Dulcimers.   We are proud to be able to provide an enthusiastic competition each year for anyone who would like to compete.  For addition Information and rules…….

Contact Name:

Jess Dickinson

For Competition Info or Registration




2016 Champions BELOW


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 




“Beautiful Campus Atmosphere”

498 Tuscan Ave.- Hattiesburg, MS 39401







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.


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.


MARY 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 2017 Festival.



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.

Karen Mims – kom_dbc@hotmail.com   or   Beth Johnson – bethjohnem@msn.com

Beginner to advanced players, all welcomed.