Part of the Appalachia in the Bluegrass series
Don Pedi was born into a musical family in Chelsea Massachusetts. On weekends, his grandfather, who died before Don was born, would close his barber shop for business, and open his home in the back as a gathering place for family and friends to share homemade food, fellowship and live music. Don's grandfather played guitar, mandolin and banjo. Don's uncle Frank made his living singing and playing music. Another gifted singer is Don's dad. He'll burst into song at the drop of a hat.
Don got involved with the Boston area folk music scene in the early sixties. 1964 was when he first laid eyes on a dulcimer. It was being played by Richard Farina at a live performance by Mimi and Richard Farina at the old Unicorn Coffee House in Boston.
The sound of the dulcimer proved most alluring. That night in a conversation with Richard Farina, Don was convinced that someday he would get himself a dulcimer and play it. Contemporary performers like Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton, Patrick Sky, Joan Baez and others attracted Don to the Newport Folk Festival. While there he was exposed to traditional musicians like Frank Proffitt, Doc Watson, Mississippi John Hurt, Almeda Riddle and such that where a major influence on his musical tastes. By 1966 Don was traveling a lot. With Cambridge as a base, he lived for various periods of time in different parts of the country. In 1973, while living in the Colorado Rockies, Don met Tad Wright and Keith Zimmerman, a couple of musicians from Asheville, NC. After hearing Don play, they invited him to join them. He did, and they piled into Tad's 1969 Volkswagen mini-van and drove to North Carolina.
At first sight of the mountains around Harmon Den and Fines Creek, Don knew he was home. He's pretty much lived in and around Asheville from then on. Since settling in Western North Carolina Don has been recognized as the man who could "really play" a dulcimer. He is a pioneer in that his music has broken new ground and cleared a path for others. In Don's hands, the dulcimer has been accepted as an instrument well suited to playing traditional Southern Dance music. This was at a time when most "Old-Time" musicians thought a dulcimer should be hung on a wall with a pretty ribbon.
In 1991 Don and wife Jean moved to a little farm in the mountains of Madison County, North Carolina. The area is rich in traditional music and customs (neighbors still plow with mules and horses). Don is at home.