The music that Don Pedi makes is traditional southern Appalachian dance music through and through, but to make that sound he plays the dulcimer in a highly innovative and individual way. Rather than chording behind another instrument, or playing a de-boned version of the melody, his dulcimer can be the lead or solo instrument on the most elaborate tune, while making more than enough of a syncopated kick for the music to be danceable.
Don Pedi grew up in a musical family, the grandson of a guitar- and mandolin-playing barber, in Chelsea, Massachusetts. His first exposure to the mountain dulcimer was in 1964 at a coffee house in Boston, at a Richard and Mimi FariĢ±a concert. Four years later he took up the dulcimer himself, and like so many young Northeastern musicians in love with Southern music, he soon moved to the North Carolina mountains. In 1974 he entered his first contest, at Fiddler’s Grove in North Carolina, and won first place. By 1980 he had won so many contests at Fiddler’s Grove that he was certified “Master Dulcimer Player” and retired from future competitions.
Pedi has recorded numerous albums, and has been recruited to play in such movie productions as The Journey of August King and Songcatcher. He represented Appalachia at the 2003 Smithsonian Folk Festival, and he is the recipient of both the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Award and the Most Outstanding Performer Award at the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in Asheville.
Don Pedi currently performs both solo and with Celo, North Carolina, fiddler Bruce Greene.