Pilot Mountain man makes uncommon musical instrument

PILOT MOUNTAIN, N.C. -- It's not the type of thing you'd expect to see in a downtown backyard.

"A friend of mine and I put it up in a day and half," said Ken Bloom, who erected a yurt to replace his workshop. "I get up everyday, come out here, it's just me and the dog."

Inside this unusual building you'll find Bloom making an unusual musical instrument.

"I pride myself in making an instrument that no one has ever heard of," laughs Bloom, as he plays his bowed dulcimer. "It starts out as really rough lumber. I've been doing it all my life, in fact a lot of the tools I use today I got from my father."

While what he makes is similar to the dulcimers you find in the mountains, his are specifically designed to be played with a bow.

"This instrument as it stands now is something I've developed over the years," said Bloom, who has a lifetime love of music. He grew up in Southern California, played music in high school and in the 1960s he had his first taste of fame.

"I was in a one-hit-wonder band back in the 60s called The Lewis and Clark Expedition," said Bloom, who by then had mastered many different instruments but never could quite get the hang of playing a fiddle or other instruments that use a bow. Then he discovered the dulcimer. "The bowed instrument is the closest thing to the human voice."

Each year Bloom leads the Pilot Mountain Bowed Dulcimer Festival which is scheduled for this coming weekend. For more information visit boweddulcimer.org.