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Paul Oortes

Paul Oorts is a multi-instrumentalist with a solid foundation in different styles of music and a solid teaching experience. In his college days his principle hangout was the Muziekdoos, a cafe in the cosmopolitan seaport town of Antwerp (Belgium) where all the local folk musicians, buskers, conservatory students, and touring performers would meet and jam together and learn from each other. The eclectic atmosphere of this venue became a major characteristic of his playing as he learned to back up traditional Flemish, French, German, Irish, and Scandinavian music on guitar and five-string banjo, as well as ragtime, old-timey, Latin American, and classical music. While living in Italy he got interested in the mandolin as he joined some local bands playing traditional Italian and bluegrass (!) music. Back in Belgium he joined Rawhide, a Bluegrass and Old-time band that won the first prize in the prestigious Toulouse Bluegrass contest. The band was chosen to represent Belgium in the Euro Country Music Masters, a competition that was televised in 28 countries.

While pursuing graduate studies in Comparative Literature at Penn State University he joined the prominent local folk band Simple Gifts with whom he recorded two CDs of mostly Anglo-American music with ventures into Klezmer and Scandinavian. He became fascinated by the hammered dulcimer and started attending dulcimer festivals, which led to a lasting association with dulcimist Steve Schneider. With the latter he recently recorded an eclectic album called "Momentum," containing a selection of classical, pop, Latin, and contemporary folk music on hammered dulcimer and guitar (see glowing review in Dulcimer Player News).

His versatility has made him the sideman of choice of many professional dulcimer players in the Washington, D.C. area where he recently moved. In the last year he has shared the stage with Karen Asbrook and Ceoltoiri, Nick Blanton, Walt Michael, Ken Kolodner, Paul van Arsdale, Jody Marshall (and Moonfire), Rob Brereton, Lois Hornbostel and others.

He has assisted at Swannanoa Gathering and Augusta music camps as well as numerous dulcimer festivals including Cranberry in Binghamton, NY; Mid-Winter Acoustic Fest in Dallas, Texas; Mt. View Arkansas; Upper Potomac Dulcimer Fest in Shepherdstown, WV and Houstatonic in Conn.

Most recently he added the musette accordeon to his arsenal, and he also performs on classical and steel stringed guitars, bouzouki (octave mandolin), mandocello, and (mando) bass. His most recent venue is a contradance band called the IVs with Karen Ashbrook on flute and hammered dulcimer, Andrea Hoag on fiddle, and David Wiesler on piano. This band will be featured at the Buffalo Gap Fall Dance weekend.

Paul currently is in the process of finishing a book on ethnic mandolin styles that will be published by Mel Bay.

In his non-music life, he teaches language at the Peabody Music Conservatory in Baltimore, MD.

"Momentum" with Steve Schneider, 1997 Salient Musik Works

"A Place Just Right" with Steve Schneider and Simple Gifts, 1994 Purple Finch Productions

"Down by the Sally Gardens" with Simple Gifts ,1992 Purple Finch Productions


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