BENNINGTON, Okla. - There's something about the music found in a hammer dulcimer. And there's something about the way Russell Cook and David Lindsey play it.
They're quite a pair: they both play the hammer dulcimer, they both make hammer dulcimers, and they are brothers-in-law!
David says, "He's the big shop down the street!"
Russell was quick to ask, "Big shop or big shot?"
"Yea!" David said.
As you can see, this is Russell's big shop, Master Works, where he makes and sells thousands of instruments every year.
David's shop is smaller, and he makes and sells only a few hundred as he travels to music festivals across the country.
But this story isn't about the shops, or the different styles of music they play -- although there is debate about that, too!
Russell says, "He plays his songs, and I play them correctly!"
Instead, this is a story about passion.
David first discovered the dulcimer, and got Russell hooked.
They've both learned a lot of lessons over the year. But probably the biggest lesson of all has been how this music has brought them closer together with their friends and an extended family of musicians.
Russell says, "This is real rich family entertainment that goes on til 5 o'clock in the morning."
In this group of musicians, there's Kendra and Bob, who play music all over the country, teaching as they go.
Kendra says, "They really are a part of our family, and it's through the music that we've been blessed to meet and know them."
Jim plays the mandolin; and Annette is the link between Russell and David. She's Russell's sister; David's wife.
"Their music both interests me. I equally enjoy playing with either one of them, she said."
As you look at their faces, you really do understand the joy these instruments and this music brings to them.
And even though Russell and David's shops are impressive; even though they blend their music so beautifully together; and even though they've all been blessed by rich friendships, the best part of the story happened when the camera was turned off -- when Russell said that he gave up a stable life of teaching, putting his family in a near financial ruin, to follow a dream and a passion.
It's not just about making music, or instruments, or jokes.
It's about making a lifetime of happiness in his heart, through all of these things. It's about following your calling. This one just happened to be music to his ears.
"I fell in love with the instrument; I just had to have one" he said.
April 14-16 -Bennington , OK Winter Creek Reunion Dulcimer Festival