7th Red Hill Music Festival Brings Fun and Vistors to South East Illinois.
By Jerry Pacholski

How do you sum up an event which brings visitors from as far as Wisconsin, Michigan and Missouri to Sumner, Illinois and, yet, provides fun and entertainment to local people? "This is like a candy store for musicians," said Rod Paille of Mt Carmel. "The only bad part is that it is over too soon," added a visitor from Kentucky.

On Saturday, October 13, 2012, the Red Hill Dulcimer Society sponsored its Seventh Annual Red Hill Music Festival at the United Methodist Church in Sumner. Over 100 students registered to take classes from top notch acoustic music teachers like Tull Glazener, Molly McCormack, Rick Thum, Dottie and Danny Shephard and Doug and Rachel Hawf. A hi-light of the festival was a beginner’s class in ukulele taught by the Shephard’s. A dozen students learned the basics of this trendy instrument and other classes taught them how to integrate the uke into ensembles with other musicians. Classes were also offered in violin, mountain and hammered dulcimer, Irish whistle, jamming skills and percussion. "Danny is a great teacher and percussionist. He showed us how to play the spoons, the washboard, and, yes, even a paper bag! What a hoot!’ said Dulcimer Society member Brenda Dickirson. Molly McCormack, of Louisville, Ky taught beginner level classes in Irish whistle and also intermediate mountain dulcimer classes on classic hymns and the folk songs of Burl Ives. Doug Hawf and daughter, Rachel, taught introductory classes in fiddle and jamming technique.

More advanced students had the opportunity to learn "fiddle tunes," classical music and Tin Pan Alley with Tull Glazener on the mountain dulcimer while hammered dulcimer players expanded their repertoire and learned syncopation techniques from Rick Thum. "This is the most economical festival of all. You ought to charge more!" "The worst part was having to go home so soon." " I am so glad for patient teachers like Doug." And "I came here to learn some new things, and I did." These were among the comments received on student evaluation forms.

The festival features a concert by the instructors which is open to the public at no cost. The church sanctuary was filled and, after a welcome by Chamber of Commerce Director Rachel Gard, the audience enjoyed performances by the Shephard’s, the Hawf’s, McCormack and Glazener, and Thum. Doug Hawf who is sponsoring the Allendale Bluegrass in the Park festival on Saturday, October 10th, 2012 in Allendale, Il, reminded the audience of the effort put out by the Dulcimer Society to organize the event and asked them to show their appreciation. Rick Thum thanked the group for inviting him to teach this year and hoped he will be invited back again. Crowd favorites Tull Glazener and Molly McCormack, who have taught at every festival, charmed the audience with tunes from the Carter Family to ragtime. Dottie and Danny Shephard did vocal duets accompanied by the ukulele.

As a finale, all of the instructors returned to the stage and closed out by having the crowd join them in a medley of old gospel standards. The audience responded with an enthusiastic standing ovation. "The good news is the festival was a success" said Dulcimer Society President Beth Leggitt. "Most students evaluated us as "Excellent. Soon we will start planning for next year."

The Red Hill Dulcimer Society worked hard to produce this year’s festival. But they offer their thanks to those who supported the event, including newspapers, radio and television stations in a 100 mile radius and the Chamber of Commerce. "We owe so much to the Sumner United Methodist Church and the Congrational Church who let us use their facilities to host this event. And Steve and Nick, our soundmen. With their cooperation, we get a chance to show Sumner in its best light and the hospitality we offer makes this the friendliest music festival in the US," added Joan Brian.