Ueli von Allmen on a guitar by Dixie Michelle

Ueli von Allmen from Switzerland plays “Merci Dixie”, a song he wrote for Dixie Michelle in Tulsa Oklahome. He wrote this song to thank her for the great guitars, mandolins and banjos she make and the music she has enabled him to make with her instruments.

We have featured Dixie’s guitar making in a previous post.
 
52-year-old guitarist and primary school music teacher Ueli von Allmen has his roots in the Swiss alps, but he loves American music and American guitars.
 
Von Allmen might look like the shorter brother of Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant, but the “old folkie”, as he describes himself, is in fact one of the main figures on the children’s music scene in Switzerland.
There are many strings to von Allmen’s guitar – he co-founded the Folk Music School of Bern in 1983 and gives concerts around the world with his folk band Tächa (dialect for the alpine chough). But sharing his passion with children remains a central part of his life.
“Children are my creative teachers,” the irrepressibly dynamic father of four says. “Children are the creative masters – being creative is their way of exploring and learning. For an artist or musician, being creative is the main ingredient.”
“Dearest companion”
Von Allmen’s own childhood was spent in the mountains in Wengen, a village and ski resort in canton Bern with about 1,300 year-round residents, and nearly ten times that number in winter.
“When I was nine, I was given a little radio with a tape recorder and that was my dearest companion at the time. That was my gate to the musical world. Apart from that, I always reacted to what I heard around me, all natural sounds: thunderstorms, birds or traditional music which caused lots of deep emotions in me.”
The young mountain dweller turned out to be a musical sponge, soaking up classical music, jazz and rock. Yet he says his strongest influence was probably Bernese singer-songwriter Mani Matter, who died in a car crash in 1972 aged 36.
“Up there [in Wengen] we didn’t have a lot of distractions. At home I would explore the world by reading and listening, so language, speech, poems and stories are just as important to me as sounds.”
Indeed, he cites the “silence of the mountains” as his most important source of inspiration. “As a child, I learnt how to listen in the mountains. That had a big effect on me and probably also my music.”“ more
By Miche Archetto

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