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!
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.
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.
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.