String Band from New Mexico in Thanksgiving weekend concert

Elation Center for the Arts presents Hands Five, an award-winning string band from New Mexico, in a special Thanksgiving weekend concert at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 29, at the Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse.

From the lilt of sweet-sounding traditional fiddling to the graceful syncopation of the hammered dulcimer, Hands Five performs a spirited repertoire of old-time American mountain music, Celtic and French-Canadian dance tunes, new-time music (new tunes & songs in an old-time style), and Hispano-American tunes to enthusiastic audiences throughout the Southwest.

The members of Hands Five include Peter Esherick, hammered dulcimer; Erika Gerety, bass; Gary Blank, percussion; John Brinduse, guitar; and Bruce Thomson, fiddle.

Each week preceding the concert, we profile one of the group’s members. An article about Esherick and the history of his instrument, the hammered dulcimer, appeared in last week’s edition of The PREVIEW.

Hands Five fiddler Bruce Thomson is a veritable repository of musical knowledge. Accomplished in several fiddling styles, he has won contests at music festivals in the Southwest, performed in some of New Mexico’s top traditional music ensembles, and serves as musical archivist for The New Mexico Folk Music and Dance Society (a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and teaching traditional music and dance). He also writes articles about music and musicians for several folk music periodicals.

Thomson is professor of civil engineering and director of the Water Resources Program at the University of New Mexico. His specialty is environmental engineering. He has done extensive teaching, research and consulting on the treatment of water and wastewater, and management of radioactive wastes.

Thomson’s other involvements include restoring old airplanes and flying them.

Thomson got hooked on traditional acoustic music while in college, after playing brass band instruments since elementary school. He played guitar — learning nearly everything Doc Watson recorded — before switching to fiddle.

What’s the difference between the fiddle and a violin? The violin sings, the fiddle dances. In the olden days, when families and friends got together to have fun, all it took to get the dancing going was a single fiddler.

Join us Saturday, Nov. 29, when the tuneful fiddling of Bruce Thomson is joined by the inspired instrumental playing of the entire Hands Five string band.

Advance tickets are $12, available online at and at Higher Grounds Coffee Company. Tickets at the door are $15. Young people — 18 and under — accompanied by parents, will be admitted free of charge.

You’re welcome to help us continue our tradition of the wonderful concert intermission social by bringing a dessert to share, if you wish. Volunteers are always appreciated.

Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse is located at 230 Port Ave. in the Vista subdivision of Pagosa Lakes. Take U.S. 160 to Vista Boulevard; turn north on Vista, then left on Port. The clubhouse is at the end of Port in the PLPOA complex.

Elation Center for the Arts is a nonprofit organization that provides cultural arts programs to the community of Pagosa Springs.

For more information, call 731-3117.