2020 SCDH Festival Bios

Meet Our Artists!


Tina Bergman

Hammered Dulcimer
Festival Workshops, Evening Concert & Focus Workshop

Tina Bergmann has been performing concerts, and teaching workshops and private lessons from an early age. A fourth-generation musician, she began playing music at age eight, learning the mountain dulcimer from her mother in the aural tradition and learning the hammered dulcimer at the knee of West Virginia-native builder and performer Loy Swiger. Demonstrating gifts for both performance and teaching, she has been a featured performer across the United States, performing solo; as a duo with her husband, bassist Bryan Thomas; with her stringband Hu$hmoney; and as a member of “Apollo’s Fire,” Cleveland’s world renowned Baroque Orchestra.
Since 1994, Tina has been a cornerstone in the Apollo's Fire crossover programs. She was first engaged to play with the orchestra in a concert series celebrating Ohio's history and since then she has been an integral part of Scottish, Irish, early American, Sephardic, and Mediterranean programs with Apollo's Fire. Tina has recorded seven CDs with Apollo's Fire, among which 5 have debuted in the Billboard Classical Top 10. Tina's Discography with Apollo's Fire includes Christmas on Sugarloaf Mountain, Sephardic Journey, Sugarloaf Mountain, Sacrum Mysterium, Come to the River, Scarborough Fayre (out of print).

Tina has toured throughout the United States with Apollo's Fire, and toured England and Ireland in August 2018 with the Sugarloaf Mountain Program. Selected performances include the National Museum of Art, Washington DC, The 58th Annual Ojai Music Festival, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, The Soka Performing Arts Center in CA, The National Concert Hall, Dublin IR, Snape Maltings, UK.

Tina and husband Bryan Thomas, play American Old Time, Celtic and South American music on hammered dulcimer and bass for concerts, weddings, corporate events, school programs and private parties. Their string band, Hu$hmoney, includes David Rice on fiddle and guitar and plays at dances and a wide variety of events.
Tina has taught privately since age 12 and has a BA in Music Education from Kent State University. She is well experienced at teaching all levels and using many techniques to get students to play with skill and joy.
Hailed by Pete Seeger as “the best hammered dulcimer player I’ve heard in my life,” Tina's expressive musicality and driving rhythm bring the American old time, Celtic, Classical, and world music she plays to life. 

Tina’s website: https://allroadsleadhome.com

Neal Hellman
Fretted/Mountain Dulcimer
Festival Workshops, Evening Concert & Focus Workshop
Neal Hellman has been arranging and performing on the mountain dulcimer for the past four decades.

His books of arrangements include Mountain Dulcimer Arrangements from Both Sides of the Atlantic, Celtic Songs & Slow Airs for Mountain Dulcimer, The Dulcimer Chord Book, The Hal Leonard Dulcimer Method, and Music of the World for Mountain Dulcimer.

Neal’s latest recording, Emma’s Waltz, is a colorful dance through traditional and contemporary acoustic music styles. Neal's other recordings include: Autumn in the Valley, Dream of the Manatee (with Joe Weed) and Oktober County, all on the Gourd Music label.

An original composition, written by Neal and performed by Jay Unger and Molly Mason, is featured on the Ken Burns production Not for Ourselves Alone. Neal has placed a number of other tracks on the films of Ken Burns including Horatio's Drive, National Parks: America's Best Idea and The Dust Bowl (2012).

As founder, director and one of the primary artists of the Gourd Music record label, Neal has produced over fifty recordings, including Simple Gifts, The Fairie Round, Tender Shepherd, The World Turned Upside Down and Jefferson’s Fiddle, creating a uniquely distinctive sound, featuring a variety of acoustic instrumental ensembles, rich in texture and tonal color.

He was music director for a production of The Grapes of Wrath, which played at The Crocker Theater at Cabrillo College in 2009 and in 2013 produced a show for Santa Cruz Reads titled A Musical Celebration of the Life and Times of John Steinbeck.

Neal's Website: https://www.gourd.com/hellmann.html 

Patti Amelotte

Hammered Dulcimer

Anchor Patti
Patti Amelotte became interested in the Hammered Dulcimer and Traditional Irish music after attaining a Bachelors degree in piano performance from Chapman University. In 1990 she won the State Hammered Dulcimer Championship. She has performed throughout SoCal as a soloist and in the bands Better than One with Barbara Gershman and Looney’s Fortune with Matt Tonge and Georgiana Hennessy. Patti has performed on many television/movie soundtracks and with the San Diego Symphony in the “Lord of the Rings Suite”. Patti's recordings include "Granuaile," Looney’s Fortune “West Coast Irish” and "Bird in the Bush." She teaches private and group lessons in Southern California and at other festivals, as well as hosting concerts and classes in her studio. Patti also does minor repairs on/and restringing of hammered dulcimers and sells Dusty Strings hammered dulcimers through her business - PmA: Instruments and Services www.pattiamelotte.com    www.looneysfortune.com

Bill Dempsey

Fretted Dulcimer

Anchor Bill
Bill Dempsey began playing Fretted Dulcimer in 1976. Originally influenced by Jean Ritchie and Richard Farina, Bill's playing has evolved over time. He currently uses 4 equidistant strings and Doug Thomson capos. Many of Bill's CDs include dulcimer in the mix. His new album featuring fretted dulcimer and vocals is titled: "Bill Dempsey - Dulcimer.”
Bill is a well-known singer who accompanies himself on mountain dulcimer, ukulele, guitar, 5 string banjo, harmonica, trombone, pocket trumpet and cajon - truly a ONE MAN BAND!
Bill does shows for all age groups and performs wherever he is needed. Learn UKULELE and Sing Along with Bill at the festival.

Barbara Gershman

Hammered Dulcimer

Anchor Barbara
Barbara Gershman first heard the Hammered Dulcimer on a recording in a Yosemite gift shop and found Patti Amelotte, a HD teacher. Learning to play the dulcimer provided balance to a career in community college teaching and led to many friendships and musical opportunities. She founded ‘On A Lark’ Celtic trio with Jill Cassidy and Terry Gucwa, succeeding the trio, ‘Dulcimania’. She also plays accordion, especially for performances at healthcare facilities with Fountain Valley Singers & Strummers. She and Patti Amelotte perform as a duo ‘Better Than One’ for Chapman University's annual Wassail. She also plays with the ensemble ‘Legacy,’ the ‘Sans Frontieres International Folk Dance Band’, performs solo, ‘shepherds’ various dulcimer groups in So Cal and teaches beginning hammered dulcimer.
Barbara believes that the hammered dulcimer is ‘Music for the Soul’ and that SCDH helps keep traditional music alive.
She is SCDH – VP and festival coordinator.

Terry Gucwa


Anchor Terry
Terry Gucwa is known for bringing a touch of class to any musical venture as he fuses his Cello with just about any type of music. He is a mult-instrumentalist, playing cello, fretted dulcimer, guitar, trombone, recorder and now accordion. Terry has gained quite a reputation as an arranger as part of his contribution to many ensembles: When Pigs Fly!, On a Lark (Celtic Trio), Madison Avenue Folk international dance band, and recently started a new international folk dance band, Sans Frontières (Without Borders). During the pandemic he has produced some innovative stay-at-home videos, sending arrangements and recordings to the 8 SF band members to video themselves. Terry then did his wizardry at editing! He is also the author of “Easy and Eas-ified Jam Tunes and Songs.” He has been a long-time supporter of The Living Tradition (TLT) and SCDH. He publishes the SCDH Dulcimer Events Monthly E-newsletter / Calendar.

Karen Harvey

Hammered Dulcimer

Anchor Karen
Karen Harvey was smitten by the sound of the hammered dulcimer many years ago. Her passion for learning and playing the hammered dulcimer has led her on a musical journey, which includes performing, recording, teaching, and composing. While engaged in a fulfilling professional nursing career, Karen led an active music life, too which has included teaching and performing in California, Idaho, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania. She has played as a member for several bands such as: Dulcimania – (California); Kairos and Friends and Late to Dinner – (East Coast); and Lilies of the West, an all-female string band, - (California). Karen has published a booklet of 20 original tunes, Dancing on Waves, and continues to compose new tunes.

Brenda Hunter
Hammered Dulcimer

Anchor Leo
Brenda Hunter has a music degree and teaching credential from CSUBakersfield. She has played fiddle and hammered dulcimer with Banshee in the Kitchen for 20 years, a Celtic/World Music band in Bakersfield that has released 5 albums. She was the National Hammered Dulcimer champion at Winfield, KS in 1996 and has placed several times in that contest as well. In recent years she has taken up Celtic harp. She gigs regularly (before Covid anyway) both solo and with Banshee in the Kitchen.

Leo Kretzner

Fretted Dulcimer


Anchor Leo
Leo Kretzner is master of the Mountain Dulcimer and has performed and taught for over 25 years at folk festivals and coffee houses. He plays everything from Celtic jigs and reels to blues and rock, as well as more traditional Appalachian styles of music. His motto: tradition meets innovation! He is also known for his user-friendly yet highly informative teaching style and rounds out his concert performances with vocals and guitar playing. Leo plays with Old Grey Cats, traditional music string band. He is a key member of the SCDH festival publicity team and reaches out to players throughout California, the Western states and beyond. Leo is a strong believer in exploring all kinds of musical groupings. http://youtu.be/IvFztldKQ2U

Joellen Lapidus

Fretted Dulcimer


Anchor Joellen
Joellen Lapidus is an innovative pioneer of contemporary Fretted Dulcimer playing, songwriting, building and musical instrument inlay. She is the author of "Lapidus on Dulcimer" and the updated 2nd edition. She blends diverse musical styles to give the dulcimer a new range of rhythmic, melodic, and tuning possibilities. Joellen teaches fretted dulcimer at McCabes Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. Joellen runs the Los Angeles Mountain Urban Dulcimer Club which currently meets every other week on Zoom, plays dulcimer and accordion with her trio, “The Urban Gypsies’” and her new Klezmer band, “Schmaltz”. Joellen builds stunning ‘one of a kind’ dulcimers in her workshop and her latest CD is “Dulcimer Music for the Pelican Ballet.” https://lapidusmusic.com

Deb Luken

Hammered Dulcimer

Anchor Deb
Debora has been playing the hammered dulcimer for over 10 years. She is one of the founding members of the Orange County Hammered Dulcimer group, which meets monthly to share tunes, now on Zoom. She also plays with the mixed instrument group, String Picnic, and enjoys a variety of music but especially Celtic and that of her Scottish roots. Deb fell in love with the dulcimer when she first heard it ten years ago, and she has enjoyed being part of the traditional music community ever since. Currently, she enjoys playing for her favorite audience - her puppy and three cats.

Patty McCollom

Bodhran & Tin Whistle

Anchor Patty
Patty McCollom has played bodhran (Irish frame drum) and tinwhistle professionally, for over 30 years. She is a multi-instrumentalist, playing tinwhistle, banjo, fiddle, and bodhran, and sings with several bands. She has toured internationally with various groups and performed at festivals throughout the United States. Patty is a jam organizer and an enthusiastic leader in the traditional music community. She is president of the The Living Tradition, an organization promoting traditional music and dance. Contact Patty at: www.musicbypatty.com or mccollomp@sbcglobal.net

Bob Palmer

Fretted Dulcimer

Anchor Bob
Bob Palmer - has been playing mountain dulcimer for over 20 years. A SCDH board member (Member at Large) and past president of the Riverside Folk Song Society, Bob plays extensively in the Inland Empire at events such as vintage home tours, ice cream socials, the Festival of Trees, and open mic nights. He teaches dulcimer, autoharp, and clawhammer banjo, too, out of his home in Moreno Valley. And, he’s recently taken up the hammered dulcimer!