Grand Lake: Making magic of the mountain dulcimer |

Grand Lake: Making magic of the mountain dulcimer

by Cyndi Palmer
Sky-Hi Daily News

The harmonious sounds of Jubilant Bridge are set to entertain during the Grand Arts Council’s next Concert in the Park feature Saturday.

The duo met in Estes Park through the introduction of a mutual friend who thought they would sound good together.

They are “harmony-driven … singing original and contemporary songs with a sparkling sound that is fresh and innovative,” with some spontaneous banter thrown in. Members Carol Van Alstine and Willie Jaeger have honed their talents on the guitar and dulcimer and are excited for the upcoming show, with a sense of fun as a hallmark of every performance.

Van Alstine said she and Jaeger really feel what they do is unique, with their “intricate arrangements (and) the dulcimer as a featured or ‘lead’ instrument. There are so many kinds of music than what’s being played on the radio, and now with the Internet and independent artists, more and more people are realizing this.”

Jaeger played the guitar for years before discovering the joys of the mountain dulcimer, He was “charmed by its voice, and never looked back,” he said.

He takes the simple folk instrument and uses it for lead, rhythm, chording, finger picking, flat picking and “for color and tone to spice up our music.” He also composes instrumentals and some of the songs.

He likes “lots of harmony, well-crafted lyrics, and bad puns well-told,” and really likes to sing. “Somewhere along the line, I realized that people were listening, and that it mattered to me that they were listening, and that we all were enjoying the exchange, making it exciting, communal,” he said. “It is a very special privilege to share this kind of intimacy. It has made all the difference.”

Poet Van Alstine also loves to sing and is the lead vocalist for the duo, providing most of the original songs which are oft-time inspired by her poems and dreams depicting matters of the heart and head.

“All it took was a few wild dreams, and I began combining my love of words with my love of music,” she said. “My songs are often inspired by images from dreams, word play, and musical or lyrical phrases that take me to take me to unexpected places.”

Her earliest influences include classical music from cartoons, top-40 radio hits,

Broadway musicals, John Philip Sousa, and the Beatles (she first learned to sing harmony singing along with Paul McCartney). She studied English, classical and folk guitar and voice, and has been entertaining as a solo performer at various venues ever since.

She and Jaeger have four albums ” their latest, “Happenstance” came out in 2003. Van Alstine is writing some new songs and the duo is arranging and practicing new material for their fifth recording by the end of this year.

Through their performances Van Alstine said she hopes “to delight, move, and inspire people the way other musicians have delighted, moved, and inspired me. It’s a giving back kind of thing,” she said that’s “just plain fun.”

“We hope to take them somewhere else, someplace unexpected,” Jaeger said. “We love to sing and we hope it shows.”