Jerry Rockwell Biography

Jerry Rockwell with an NCH model dulcimer he made by hand.

Jerry Rockwell is a musician and luthier who focuses his love of musical structure and fine woodworking on an uncommon American folk instrument, the mountain (Appalachian) dulcimer. A self-described “one-man music laboratory,” he uses hand tools to build his instruments and digital tools for music publishing, recording, and streaming his performances online.

As a teenager on Long Island Jerry developed a passion for stringed/fretted instruments and jazz and rock guitar. Then, while a student at SUNY Plattsburgh, he heard the freewheeling mountain dulcimer music of Richard and Mimi Farina and began searching for a dulcimer, and tools for building his own.

Thirteen years of dulcimer building, playing and teaching sparked a move to Ohio in 1983 and eventually led to formal music studies and a BA in music at The Ohio State University. As an inspired nontraditional student, he took courses from counterpoint to electronic music to acoustic physics, and concentration on music theory and composition was the basis for ongoing development and growth as a musician.

During the past five decades, Jerry has played at folk festivals in England, Ireland and Iceland and around the US. He has published nine instructional tunebooks, is featured on many recordings and musical collaborations, has co-founded three dulcimer festivals, and continues to design and build custom acoustic and electric mountain dulcimers. Jerry encourages and challenges dulcimer and guitar students in workshops and online.

Jerry’s recent compositions explore the relaxing, meditative sounds of the electric dulcimer. His recent tracks have found their way on to more than 200 playlists on digital streaming platforms.

Some relatively recent recordings:

Nine Meditations for Dulcimer (2013)

Tapping at the Edge of Paradise (2014)

The Singing Messenger (2016)

Starlight Variations (2018)


Alone in the Fields (with Tommy Berre on nylon-string guitar) (2018)

Long Winter’s Waltz (2019)

Chorale 411 (2019)

Nine Bridges Lamentation (2019)

Blue Ridge Dream (2019)

Irish Lullaby No. 1 (2019)

Canterbury Dreams (2019)

Sally’s New Air (2019) (released on Australia’s Valley View Records as part of their Dream Chasers Vol. 1 Anthology)