February 15-17, 2018

Hey folks! The 2018 Southern Strings Dulcimer Festival is gearing up for another great Festival in Petal, MS. ( just outside of Hattiesburg, MS)

Mark your calendars for the following dates:
  Thursday Feb. 15th, Thursday night - Pre-Festival Jam Session & Fellowship
  Feb. 16th, Friday - Jamming - Workshops - & Fellowship Dinner with Bingo
  Feb. 17th, Saturday - Workshops - On-Stage Performances & Competition
Aaron O'Rourke - (Mountain Dulcimer) - Chattanooga, TN
  Jess Dickinson - (Hammered Dulcimer) - Madison, MS
   Jan Carroll - (Mountain Dulcimer) - Poteau, OK
  William Craig Mann - (Mountain Dulcimer) - Cullman, AL
  Johnny Carroll - (Rhythm Percussion) - Poteau, OK
  Richard Switzer - (Psaltery Choir) - Starkville, MS
Local Instructors  
   Don Hill - (Hammered Dulcimer) - Petal, MS
  Kathy Ford - (Mountain Dulcimer) - Sumrall, MS
  Terry Keith - (Auto Harp) - Laurel, MS
   Silvia Sanders - (Dulcimer) - Hattiesburg, MS

2018 Southern Strings Festival provides opportunity for players of numerous acoustical instruments to increase their skills in workshop settings. If you do not play and would like to learn beginner classes will be available to you. Intermediate and advance players will enjoy workshops on techniques and new musical selections. All players can gather, learn, listen, jam and share musical experiences.

  Calvary Baptist Church, 1123 Highway 42, Petal, MS 39465

  Sessions are geared to all levels of players from Absolute Beginner to Advanced, all in a laid back atmosphere.


While all our Festival Instructors are outstanding we do have two outstanding Instructors in their field of expertise that we consider our ‘Featured Instructors’. In Mountain Dulcimer we have Aaron O’Rourke who is a ‘sought out’ Mountain Dulcimer Instructor from all across the U.S.  He will bring a new twist and younger sound as he conducts his workshops. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to sit under his leadership.

“In our Hammered Dulcimer area we are so proud to have the one and only JESS DICKINSON again this year as he brings his teaching skills to the workshop once again. Jess is a co-festival partner as he is the “Father” of the Deep South Dulcimer Championship. He developed the Championship 7 years ago and is in the process of having it Sanctioned by Nationals.

We also have other Instructors who you will find to be wonderful teachers and instructors as well.  Such as:  Jan Carroll, who recently placed 4th at Windgate, KS and was the 2017 Deep South MT Dulcimer Champions, Craig Mann, who is dulcimer historian and has been an MT Dulcimer instructor in Northern AL for many years,  Richard Switzer will again this year conduct Psaltery workshop which will be a Psaltery Choir, Johnny Carroll, a percussionist who will be giving tips on enhancing your group sound by using Rhythm instruments.

In addition Southern Strings has also enlisted the help of local instructors who are willing to share their skills having played and taught for many years.


Aaron O’Rourke – (Mountain Dulcimer) – Chattanooga, TN

Jess Dickinson – (Hammered Dulcimer) – Madison, MS

Jan Carroll – (Mountain Dulcimer) – Poteau, OK

William Craig Mann – (Mountain Dulcimer) – Cullman, AL

Johnny Carroll – (Rhythm Percussion) – Poteau, OK

Richard Switzer – (Psaltery Choir) – Starkville, MS

Local Instructors

Don Hill – (Hammered Dulcimer) – Petal, MS

Kathy Ford – (Mountain Dulcimer) – Sumrall, MS

Terry Keith – (Auto Harp) – Laurel, MS

Silvia Sanders – (Dulcimer) – Hattiesburg, MS


  On-Stage Performance - for individuals or groups who would like to play a 2 song set or no more than a 10 minute slot of time. Our Instructors will also perform at this time if they desire.

  We are working to get an Multi-Instrumental Sessions for the Festival which will also be asked to perform on Saturday. Our Psaltery Choir will be performing as well.

  A wonderfully delicious meal will be served on Friday night followed by the Annual Southern Strings BINGO game for prizes. (cost of meal will be on the registration form coming soon)
  Lunch Friday & Saturday - you will have plenty of time to go pick something up bring back to eat at the Church or maybe you would like to bring your lunch. Drinks will be available at the snack bar.(additional info on registration form)

  Vendors will be available on site. Music related items only. Musical Instruments, music, accessories, and new items will be available for purchase.
  This will be the 7th Annual Deep South Dulcimer Championship. Registration will be through Jess Dickinson, (email) 

First place winners in both categories (Mountain & Hammered Dulcimers) will be presented Dulcimers from the Championship's Sponsors:   McSpadden Dulcimers - Jim Woods &    ?????????
Jam session will be available at all times.

  A dulcimer doctor will be available for minor repairs to your dulcimer during the festival.

REGISTRATION FORMS ( on top menu ) 






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.