About Matthew

Abelson grew up in Princeton, New Jersey and was introduced to the hammered dulcimer at age 6, when his father built one for his other brother. Both of his parents were involved with the Princeton Folk Music
Society and folk musicians would often visit their home. While his brother's
interest in the dulcimer evaporated, Abelson's fascination grew.

He began practicing on his own, every day for a month. This convinced his parents that he was ready for music lessons. So, following a more conventional route, the dulcimer was stored away and the family piano
became his focus.

     "I studied piano for 10 years and in fifth graded began violin lessons. In seventh grade, I switched to viola and became very good, very fast. There was something about the viola's
deeper, richer sound that encouraged me to play. I ended up as a first chair in
my high school orchestra, coaching the entire section. I also played with the
Lewis String Quartet."

      By this time, Abelson had taken up a variety of instruments such as the bagpipes and the English concertina. Abelson remembers, "There was a wall in my parents' living room
that had three guitars, two banjos, a lap dulcimer, a hammered dulcimer, kazoos,
nose flutes, and Appalachian rhythm toys. Although I was surrounded by music, it
was always a casual interest of mine - I never thought of becoming a
professional musician."

      When it was time for choosing a college, it was as important the it offered a good music school as well as a good biology program, his stated major. He choose Oberlin College,
where hew as reintroduced to the hammered dulcimer. One of the residents in his
dormitory has set one up and Abelson couldn't resist. He sat down with his long
forgotten, trapezoidal friend and played several melodies from his childhood. He
was hooked - again. In 1990, he pulled together the funds to buy a dulcimer and,
again , taught himself how to play.

      In October 1991, he traveled to New Orleans with friends and played as a street musician in the French Quarter. It was then he realized his love for performing for an audience.

      Abelson returned to college and was graduated in 1992 with a bachelor's degree in biology. In the summer of 1993, a job offer at a molecular genetics research and some music gigs lured him
to Cleveland, Ohio. The research job never panned out, but his public
performances encouraged him to pursue his dream.

     Between gigs he worked at a local coffee shop and a cooperative grocery store to make ends meet. Many meals were missed as he saved the $3,500 needed to produce his first demo tape and CD.
Abelson quit his day jobs in 1994 when he landed a Christmas gig at Tower
an upscale shopping mall in Cleveland. As he stood on stage in front
of thousands and performed, he knew he was headed in the right direction.

      His second hammered dulcimer was built in 1984 by the late Michael Autorino. It was on this instrument that he recorded his first CD, The Flying Dulcimer. His most
recent CD, From There to Here is the last recording to feature this
instrument. Abelson now performs on a custom James Jones acoustic/ electric
dulcimer with dampers, three fill chromatic octaves and an extra octave on bass.

     Abelson plays a variety of musical styles. Although he started with primarily Irish tunes, his repertoire now includes traditional American music as well as classical, renaissance, jazz,
and original works. His performances are exciting, engaging, and entertaining -
weaving together traditional stories, personal anecdotes and humor to compliment
the music.

      Abelson is now performing, recording, and teaching full-time. He appears extensively at colleges, universities, major festivals and coffee houses through-out the Mid-Atlantic
region, Michigan and his home state of Ohio. His audiences have included
President Clinton, Vice President Gore, author Anne Rice and other notables. In
May 1999, Abelson took first place at the Mid=East Regional Hammered
Dulcimer Competition.


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Quick Quotes

Mathew Abelson plays a instrument beautifully.......
Bill Gibb Scene Magazine

...it would be wise to check out this young performer as he continues to grow right in our own backyard. Live, Abelson excels. Music dances off the strings before your eyes.
Robert Mihalek The Cleveland Free Times

Mathew is a flexible entertainer who is a joy to work with. He will always be welcome at my events.
Brian Diehl, Director, Kyng's Company Renaissance Fair

Abelson attack the dulcimer with an intensity rarely seen at your typical folk festival...
Lynne Brakerman Scene Magazine

Flying Man

From There To here, hammered dulcimer player Mathew Abelson's second CD is a treat for the ears. Like his debut, The Flying Dulcimer, From Here To There is comprised of a wide range of musical styles popular to the dulcimer, such as Irish jigs and reels, bluegrass and Renaissance numbers. There's a nice cozy feel to this CD. The bluegrass and Irish jig tunes jam out hard, and the slower, more elegant songs, like the traditional English "Greensleeves," really give the listener an opportunity to hear the grace of Abelson's touch. Abelson and supporting cast, including guitarists Flynn Cohen and Tim Wallace, Ron Butler on bass, Brendan Carr on the bodhran and Janice Fields in the violin and viola, are incredible tight-rolling together to make the music seem as if it's flying. But it's Abelson's solo tunes that show off his light, quick and beautiful playing, including two originals, "Midnight Dreams" and "The Rain Within," both stand-outs.

Abelson, who comes from a musical family, was introduced to the hammered dulcimer as a child when his father built one for his brother, although Abelson ended up starting his musical life on the piano. Later while attending Oberlin College, he was turned on to the instrument when he saw someone playing the dulcimer in his dorm. "I loved watching his hands dance over the strings," he recalls. Unable to find a teacher, Abelson subsequently taught himself to play the instrument, starting with traditional dulcimer tunes.

Seven years later, Abelson wants to create new music for the instrument and do for the hammered dulcimer what Bela Fleck has done for the banjo. "I want to take the instrument where it hasn't been taken before." With this second release, Abelson shows that his commitment and playing are no joke. He can always be found playing out in Cleveland practically everywhere and now has no "day Job", rather making his living playing wedding, parties, church services, private lessons, plus concerts at coffeehouses, bookstores, and festivals. Fueled by his success, he believes that his time has come to make it in music. "I don't want to sit around and watch time go by and say I could have made it if I had tried harder." And since he is out so much, it would be wise to check out this young performer as he continues to grow right in our own backyard. Live Abelson excels. Music dances off the strings before your eyes. -Robert Mihalek

The Cleveland Free Times
Oct. 29-Nov. 4, 1997
Local Spotlight
Review- Page 35

Acoustic Alchemy
Mathew Abelson
Agora Ballroom
October 28

...Mathew Abelson is a gangly, young hammered dulcimer player who grew up in New Jersey, spent time in a Kibbutz in Israel, and taught himself to play hammered dulcimer while studying biology at Oberlin College. The cocky Abelson attacks the dulcimer with and an intensity rarely seen at you typical folk festival. Abelson won an encore from the audience for his high spirited rendition of several Irish tines, as well as moving performances of "Ashoken Farewell" (theme song for PBS' "Civil War" series) and the classic Shaker Hymn "It's a Gift to Be Simple."

Lynne Brakerman
SCENE Magazine
November 4-10, 1993
Review--Page 24



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Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries had its humble beginnings as an idea of a few artisans and craftsmen who enjoy performing with live steel fighting. As well as a patchwork quilt tent canvas. Most had prior military experience hence the name.


Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries.


Vendertainers that brought many things to a show and are know for helping out where ever they can.

As well as being a place where the older hand made items could be found made by them and enjoyed by all.

We expanded over the years to become well known at what we do. Now we represent over 100 artisans and craftsman that are well known in their venues and some just starting out. Some of their works have been premiered in TV, stage and movies on a regular basis.

Specializing in Medieval, Goth , Stage Film, BDFSM and Practitioner.

Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries a Dept of, Ask For IT was started by artists and former military veterans, and sword fighters, representing over 100 artisans, one who made his living traveling from fair to festival vending medieval wares. The majority of his customers are re-enactors, SCAdians and the like, looking to build their kit with period clothing, feast gear, adornments, etc.

Likewise, it is typical for these history-lovers to peruse the tent (aka mobile store front) and, upon finding something that pleases the eye, ask "Is this period?"

A deceitful query!! This is not a yes or no question. One must have a damn good understanding of European history (at least) from the fall of Rome to the mid-1600's to properly answer. Taking into account, also, the culture in which the querent is dressed is vitally important. You see, though it may be well within medieval period, it would be strange to see a Viking wearing a Caftan...or is it?

After a festival's time of answering weighty questions such as these, I'd sleep like a log! Only a mad man could possibly remember the place and time for each piece of kitchen ware, weaponry, cloth, and chain within a span of 1,000 years!! Surely there must be an easier way, a place where he could post all this knowledge...

Traveling Within The World is meant to be such a place. A place for all of these artists to keep in touch and directly interact with their fellow geeks and re-enactment hobbyists, their clientele.

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