Jeff Hames started learning the mountain dulcimer and honoring its musical beginnings at the age of nine by watching his grandparents play. As Jeff grew so did his love of music and his ability to play songs that were not customarily played on a mountain dulcimer.
Jeff began studying under David Schnaufer at the Blair School of Music. His education continued for six years during which time David introduced Jeff to the history of the mountain dulcimer and the music that could be made on this very versatile instrument.
During 8th grade Jeff was asked to play traditional music for a video his class wrote, performed and produced. The project, titled Natchez Trace Television, is part of the Tracing Our Trace project funded by the National Geographic Society and the Mississippi Department of Education. It was distributed to all of the schools in the state of Mississippi as a learning tool on the Natchez Trace. Also, he became listed as an artisan for the school district and requested by teachers and students to perform programs at the schools.
At the age of 14, Jeff placed 2nd at the Jimmy Rogers Memorial Festival with his version of Black Mountain Rag that included blinding speed and intricate string bends. This same year Jeff placed 1st at the Neshoba County Fair Youth Talent Competition by playing Bill Monroe’s Blue Moon of Kentucky.
Jeff won the 2006 Southern Regional Mountain Dulcimer Competition held in Mountain View, AR. and in September of that same year became the 2006 National Mountain Dulcimer Champion by winning the National Contest held in Winfield, KS. Along with his active calendar he was also very involved with music at his school and church. He played the clarinet and mountain dulcimer in his high school band.
In his sophomore year the high school marching band played a rendition of Aaron Copeland’s Hoe Down that included a dulcimer solo played by Jeff. This was a first in marching band history and had everyone talking about the mountain dulcimer. The band took their show to competitions and was rated All Superior at every competition they attended.
At a Beginners Workshop in 2007
Here is what the One World Blue Songwriter Review by Talent Director Russell Johnson, Renowned and Acclaimed JRJ Productions Founder, has to say:
“Jeff Hames received his first dulcimer when he was nine years old from his grandfather who hand made it from a McSpadden Kit. The dulcimer came about because Jeff had a broken wrist injury that prevented him from playing the guitar. This began a whole new path of his musical history.”
“Before long Jeff was lucky enough and talented enough to receive personal lessons from David Schnaufer, one of the world’s premier dulcimer players, for more than six years. He learned this unique instrument from the ground up. Currently playing between seven and thirteen festivals a year, Jeff Hames has become a much sought after dulcimer player in the country.”