Dusty Thorburn


Dusty Thorburn grew up strumming guitar and singing “Kum Ba Ya” and “Blowin’ in the Wind” before it was a cliché. A professional historian, he sees traditional music as a way to connect with people from the past, especially those who left few written records of their lives. A guitarist and occasional mandolin player, Dusty discovered the dulcimer several years ago and has been obsessed ever since, entranced by the simple beauty of the instrument’s design and sound. He founded River City Dulcimers, a group of musical friends that meets monthly in Sacramento and is also a Moderator at the popular website Friends of the Mountain Dulcimer. Dusty has been a regular at music events around Northern California, having taught workshops at the Redwood Dulcimer Day in Santa Cruz and the Berkeley Dulcimer Gathering and performed at events such as Petaluma’s Art in the Park festival and Old Sacramento’s Gold Rush Days. In 2019 he published his first book of tablature, Lullabies from Around the World arranged for the beginning mountain dulcimer, and has just completed his second: Songs of Old Albion & Erin: Ballads, Airs, and Dances from 1500 to 1800, containing over 30 mountain dulcimer arrangements of tunes from early modern England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales intended for the intermediate-level player. Dusty currently offers private lessons online and at The Strum Shop in Roseville, CA.  His lessons, arrangements, and compositions combine a respect for traditional sounds with a modern, blues-influenced sensibility.

Workshops taught include:

Mountain Dulcimer 101 (Beginner) 

Beginning Repertoire for Mountain Dulcimer (Beginner) 

Lullabies from Around the World (Advanced Beginner)

The Patient Dulcimer: Fiddle Tunes that Sound Good Slow  (Advanced Beginner/ Intermediate)

Dulci-Ki-Yi-Yo! Songs from the American West (Advanced Beginner/Intermediate)

Dulcimer on the Down Low (Advanced Beginner/Intermediate) 

tunes played in the lower register below the 4th fret

"44 Pistol Under My Head": American Murder Ballads (Advanced Beginner/Intermediate)

Two for the Show (intermediate)

Songs offered in two arrangements, either in different octaves or different keys, all out of a DAd tuning.

Not Just O’Carolan (Intermediate)

Slow Celtic tunes 

Melodies from the French-Speaking Americas (Intermediate)

Songs and reasonably-paced fiddle tunes from Acadia, Quebec, Louisiana, and Haiti.

Lovely Scottish Airs (intermediate)

A variety of Scottish melodies, mainly from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Songs of Old Albion (Intermediate)

music from the British Isles dating from the 16th to the 18th centuries

Songs and Exercises for the Aspiring Flatpicker (Intermediate)