Joyfull Strings makes joyous music
On a Saturday morning, the Center for the Arts in downtown Grass Valley is a very cold and quiet place. Devoid of the color and exuberance which it usually displays during performances, the building is a place of echoes.
And then Tim Kretzmann and Rick Toles walk through the door to check out the space, bringing their lively banter and the warm and friendly sounds which have established their fan base at street fairs and other community events from coast to coast.
Meeting in 1990, Kretzmann and Toles instantly made a connection through their love of the hammer dulcimer.
Since then, they have performed almost annually at Victorian Christmas in Nevada City and Cornish Christmas in Grass Valley. They have also produced seven albums, which range from holiday tunes to Celtic hymns.
Together they have revived the sound of the obscure hammer dulcimer in Nevada County and throughout the country.
The dulcimer, an ancient instrument prevalent in many cultures around the world, has a crisp harp tone which tends to enhance even
the quietest of rooms with feeling
Still, after all those years of entertaining Nevada County audiences, this year things are a bit different.
The duo has opted not to perform at local festivities, instead deciding to give the Foothills something new – a holiday concert Saturday by Kretzmann and Toles’ Joyfull Strings at the Center for the Arts.
Adding to the sound of the hammer dulcimers will be the harp, played by local performer and teacher Lisa Stine.
Stine’s sound also is heard on Joyfull Strings’ newest Christmas album, “Blessings of Christmas.”
Saturday’s concert will not only feature tracks from the new CD, but also other seasonal favorites.
Prior to the concert, Kretzmann, Toles and Stine experience mixed emotions.
“Oh yeah, I definitely have nerves!” said Stine, while Toles seems to be nerve-free.
“This is a little bit different from what we usually do in that people are in front of you for more than three minutes, but no nerves,” said Toles.
In addition to performing in the concert, Kretzmann is multi-tasking, as he will present the Christmas story at the concert.
“We’re hoping that this [the concert] can become an annual event –
a tradition, not just disappear,” said Kretzmann.
The Joyfull Strings’ members continue to push themselves to reach new goals, with hopes of more local concerts and more recordings.
“We have a new CD coming out the first of the year, and we now have national distribution. It’s just about getting the records out there,” said Toles.
And it’s also about bringing festivity to audiences, whether on the streets or now on the stage.
KNOW & GO
WHAT: Joyfull Strings in
WHEN: Saturday at 8 pm.
WHERE: Center for the Arts, 314 W. Main St., Grass Valley
ADMISSION: $12 general and free for children 12 and under. Tickets at the Center for the Arts, http://www.thecenterforthearts.org/or at 274-8384.
274-8384 or http://www.joyfull
Talented trio enjoy performing together
Apart from playing the hammer dulcimers and the harp, what do Tim Kretzmann, Rick Toles, and Lisa Stine do Ñ other than bringing holiday cheer?
For starters, Stine is a very busy woman.
For the past 25 years, the veteran harp player has performed in several musical groups and has been featured in numerous concerts around the county.
When she is not strumming the harp, Stine juggles numerous jobs that include teaching adult education at Nevada Union High School, working at the Wayne Brown Correction Facility, teaching English as a second language, teaching the GED (a high school equivalency test) at CalWorks, providing Oharp therapyO for cancer patients and instructing Nevada CountyOs future musicians.
Yet it is clear that StineOs true passion is the strings, which can be heard on Joyfull StringsO newest CD, OBlessings of Christmas,O and will also be featured in the groupOs upcoming Christmas concert.
When asked what it was like working with the lively partnership of Kretzmann and Toles, Stine answers easily: OIt was [working with Kretzmann and Toles] absolutely hysterical. A fabulous experience.O
Stine, friends with Kretzmann and Toles for years, liked the idea of adding her strings to theirs. And apparently, the boys didnOt seem to mind.
OHer being here really rounds out the sound,O said Kretzmann.
When sheOs not fulfilling her other responsibilities, itOs clear that StineOs presence has not gone unnoticed within the Nevada County performing arts scene.
As for Toles and Kretzmann, the two also maintain active lives outside busy tour dates and hectic performance schedules.
Throughout his days as a member of Joyfull Strings, Kretzmann has maintained a family and his woodworking business, although he does admit that performing Otakes up a good portionO of his time.
When Toles isnOt beating away at the dulcimer, he stays involved with the music world by offering school shows and music and history programs. He also enjoys building his instruments. You might also recognize TolesO second personality Ñ Alkali, the last 49er. As Alkali, Toles presented the music and history of the Gold Rush days at the Nevada County Library during the summer.
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