Meg Noble Peterson

Author of Madam, Have You Ever Really Been Happy? An Intimate Journey through Africa and Asia

I JUST CAN’T STAY AWAY FROM SUNNY CALIFORNIA….

There are, indeed, some fabulous travel destinations right here in these United States. And one of them is the Sierra Mountains of northern California. At the end of May I participated in my first California Autoharp Gathering (CAG), which also included accomplished guitarists, fiddlers, dulcimer players, singers, dancers, and experts in the field of country and bluegrass music. Located in Dunlap, CA, an hour from Fresno, and held at beautiful St. Nicholas Ranch near an old mission church turned Greek Orthodox, this was a multiethnic experience, which included children from the Migrant Education Programs of Fresno County run by Mike Mueller.

I spent four days in the company of the greats of Autoharp playing and luthiers who have encouraged new ways of stringing the instrument since my husband, Glen R. Peterson, and I first took over Oscar Schmidt International in 1961. One of the many celebrations honored the members of the Autoharp Hall of Fame, most of whom are in this picture.

I'm in the front row between Bryan Bowers and Lindsey Haisley. Perfect location!

We had a great time reminiscing and answering questions from an audience eager to find new ways of playing and chording. In 1961 there were only 15 chords on the old A Model instrument. Now there are 21 and a plethora of choices and combinations of chords, giving the Autoharp a versatility unknown in the early days.

From an outstanding faculty numbering more than twenty-six, here are a few photographs, just the tip of the iceberg. I guess the most fun was the jamming, which occurred before and after workshops and late into the night. Music was everywhere!

Left to right: Ann Norris, John Massey, Drew Smith, Dave Rainwater

These next few photos were taken by Marc B. Blake, photographer extraordinaire. I’m sure you can find many more online and on  his website, including some exciting videos of the performances.

Bryan Bowers

Carey Dubbert

Yours truly and Mike Fenton, the English Autoharp maven

Bryan Bowers and Karen Mueller...what a combination!

A superb ensemble: Left to right: Ivan Stiles, Coleen & Neal Walters, Kathy Hollandsworth, Carey Dubbert

When I arrived home I knew spring had finally come. I was treated to my daughter Martha’s rhododendron….

…and my pyrocantha (or firethorn).

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1 Comment

  1. Hi Meg,
    I’m no sure how many times this will be posted, having written it on something else, but just in case here it is again. The one thing I miss from gardens back east is the rhododendron!
    I realized from you photos at the CAG event Rob looks exactly like you, same exact smile!
    Best….Ruth

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