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Re: [HD] playing HD outdoors in rain or damp

To: hammered dulcimers <hammered_dulcimers@lists.fmp.com>
Subject: Re: [HD] playing HD outdoors in rain or damp
From: Maynard Johnson <roguecello440@mac.com>
Date: Tue, 03 Apr 2012 17:46:38 -0400
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We've played at two gigs when severe storms hits.  One one, the venue "Plan B" 
for Hurricane Fran was "Hold out as long as you can, then cut and run."  We 
were under a metal roof, and we cut and ran, but still spent the afternoon in a 
motel room with a hair drier and towels, drying out instruments and cases.  On 
the other, fortunately, the storm hit just as we were about to walk on stage, 
so instruments got back into cases in a hurry.  We loaned the hair drier to the 
group that was on stage before us.

We did play for a combined historical program with the Columbia Dancers and the 
Williamsburg Dancers at Cumberland Gap National Park where we had to play wet.  
There was no roof over the outdoor stage, and a continuous light drizzle.  We 
all used dish towel-like rags to wipe off the instruments (hammered dulcimer, 
cello, recorder and fiddles) between numbers; and things stayed pretty much in 
tune.  The program was cut short when the stage got so wet that dancers were 
slipping or planing across the wet stage.  Again, back to a motel room with 
towels and a hair drier.  The hair drier was primarily to dry out the 
instrument cases.  

The HD was a Bill Webster with three strings per course; and it tends to hold 
tuning pretty well under adverse conditions.  Wiping off the strings with a dry 
cloth worked pretty well.  The more serious problem was accumulation of water 
on the soundboard.  That could not be wiped off easily until after the event.  
And then there was the mud, due to dust on the soundboard getting wet from the 
drizzle.  Afterward, we could joke about it: "I wash my dulcimer once a year, 
wehther it needs it or not."

Rain would not be the only possible problem.  We have also played outdoor gigs 
when we started about 45 minutes before sunset and continued for 2 hours after 
sundown.  With that you have a combination of temperature drop and dew 
condensing on the instruments.  We found that even as poor a cover as a cloth 
tent fly overhead kept the dew from condensing.    

All the above gigs were paid gigs, so backing out at the last minute was not an 
option.  And I would much rather wipe off water from dew or light drizzle than 
deal with dripping hot wax from an overhead real candle chandelier.  

Maynard Johnson
Kitchen Musician Website
http://www.kitchenmusician.net/
Jink and Diddle School of Scottish Fiddling
http://www.kitchenmusician.net/jink/jink.html


On Mar 22, 2012, at 4:54 PM, ptommerup@juno.com wrote:

> Got a question about the advisability of playing one's HD outdoors in rainy 
> weather. 
> 
> Obviously one would not want to play in a downpour under any circumstances, 
> but my band is playing at an outdoor gig this Saturday in the SF Bay Area, 
> and rain seems to be predicted. The other band members all play instruments 
> with 4-6 strings (fiddle, banjo, guitar). They tend to be hardy souls who 
> would probably not be deterred by a bit of damp. I, OTH, DO NOT want to 
> discover that the 68 strings on my Dusty Strings D-300 HD have been 
> compromised by misty weather, I understand we'll be playing under a shade 
> structure, but that doesn't mean it's completely dry under there if it 
> drizzles or rains.
> 
> Anyway, just wondering at what point one would be prudent NOT to be playing 
> one's HD in inclement weather conditions.  I'm asking because I have a 
> feeling there will be some peer pressure to keep playing unless it gets 
> really bad, and I want to have some solid data on which to base any decision 
> not to play my HD. 
> 
> Thanks,
> Peter
> 
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