Simple Gifts of the Blue Ridge®

Traditional and Traditional-Sounding Folk Music

With a Little New Age Thrown In

Charles Jack Carolyn Marya

Charles       Jack          Ann Marie          Marya

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Charles Bostian
Hammered Dulcimer, Bass

Marya Katz
Hammered Dulcimer, Guitar, Percussion, Voice

Ann Marie Conner
Flute, Percussion

Jack Webster
Voice, Guitar, Kazoo, Bass

The members of New River Valley of Virginia area folk group Simple Gifts of the Blue Ridge are Charles Bostian, Jack Webster, Carolyn Smith, and Marya Katz, who together sing and play hammered dulcimers, guitars, flute, bass, and percussion. Simple Gifts performs traditional American, British, and Irish folk music, with some world music and original compositions thrown in.  Their repertoire ranges from train songs ("The Wreck of the Old Ninety-Seven") to contemporary favorites ("Waltzing With Bears”) and love songs ("The Oak and the Ash ").  Included also are Appalachian fiddle tunes ("Gray Cat on a Tennessee Farm"), early American hymns ("Babylon Has Fallen" and "Amazing Grace"), Irish tunes ("Planxty Irwin"), and original compositions like Marya's hammered dulcimer duet "Mountain Mists." 

Simple Gifts began in 1979 when Charles Bostian turned on the NPR show "Folk Festival USA" and heard Jay Round and Cathy Barton playing hammered  dulcimers. "I knew that, whatever that instrument was, I HAD to have one," he remembers. Finding a hammered dulcimer in 1979 was not easy, but Charles  ordered one from Roger Cornell, a local instrument maker, and began playing it in 1980. Soon after he formed Simple Gifts with vocalist and guitar player Margaret Shuler and flutist Peggy deWolf. All three had been part of the fifties folk revival. Charles's and Margaret's teenage children, horrified by their parents playing music in public, said "Name the band 'Mid-life Crisis'," but Simple Gifts won out. In 1996 the band's name changed to Simple Gifts of the Blue Ridge.

A Press Clipping

Below is an excerpt from Donna Alvis Banks' Out and About column from the July 2, 1999, New River Current section of The Roanoke Times. It refers to a concert we gave on July 6, 1999. We appreciate Ms. Banks' kind words and The Roanoke Times' permission to reproduce them here.

"When the members of Simple Gifts of the Blue Ridge start making music together, something happens to your spirits. They soar. The Blacksburg group - featuring Marya Katz, Jack Webster and Charles Bostian - performs everything from train songs ("The Wreck of the Old 97") to Scottish ballads ("The Rolling of the Stones"). Like early American hymns? Listen as they render "Babylon Has Fallen" and "Amazing Grace." Old-timey Appalachian tunes? How about "Gray Cat on a Tennessee Farm?" Together for the past 17 years, the trio has become a folk music fixture around these parts. The group's next appearance is Tuesday's outdoor concert at the Bisset Park gazebo in Radford. This free show starts at 7 p.m. Bring your lawn chair or blanket and be prepared to soar. Your spirits will thank you. "


We enjoy playing for contra dances, festivals, schools, churches, civic associations, private parties, weddings and folk clubs. For booking information please contact

Charles Bostian
1609 Kennedy Avenue
Blacksburg, VA 24060-5731

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Upcoming Public Performances

Please consult our Facebook page for current information.

           Please e-mail us to confirm times.




SG001 Simple Gifts (1987)
SG002 Amazing Grace and Other Gifts (1989)
SG003 Interlude (1991)
SG004 Appalachian Nights (1994)
SG006 Blue Ridge Heritage (1998) (See below)


Compact Discs.   Copies are available by mail from us for $16.50, postage and tax included

SG005 Mountain Mists (1996) Mountain Mists

1. Mountain Mists
2. Waltzing With Bears

3. The Rising of the Moon
4. A Gift, A Song
5. Atholl Highlanders
Far Away
Dance in the Hall
8. The Brandy Tree
Abbot's Bromley Horn Dance Tune
Send Me to Glory in a Glad Bag
12. Ruthie's Dream
Tree of Life
Railroading on the Great Divide
The Rose Tree / La Bastrange
Who Can Sail Away?
17. The Old Gospel Ship
18. Rainmakers
St. Anne's Reel / Over the Waterfall
There is a Balm in
21. Streets of
22. Road Kill
Simple Gifts


"Imagine how the influence of the sixties folk movement could be wedded to the sound of the hammered dulcimer. Take a couple of decades to develop, evolve, and add some tasteful original and contemporary works. Simple Gifts of the Blue Ridge is a unique blend of these influences and more. Their latest effort 'Mountain Mists' offers a fine assortment of works from a variety of both songs and tunes... Being able to present such a variety of great music with this instrumentation is a testament to these artists. This album is not only recommended for folk enthusiasts, but should offer other dulcimists a study in how well the hammered dulcimer can blend into a song, play a tune, or even accompany another dulcimer." EXPRESSIONS, October-November 1996.

SG006 Blue Ridge Heritage (1998)Blue Ridge Heritage

1. The Successful Campaign
2. The Fox
Shady Grove
The Rose Tree/Rakes of Mallow
Home Came the Old Man
6. Swapping Song
Gray Cat on a Tennessee Farm/West Fork Gal/Bill Cheatham
Leatherwing Bat
9. Johnny Has Gone For a Soldier
10. June Apple/Old Joe Clark
Bury Me Beneath the
12. Ground Hog
14. Bald Headed End of the Broom
St. Anne's Reel/Over the Waterfall
Frog Went A-Courtin
18. Sourwood Mtn./Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss/Cripple Creek
Twin Falls


"Simple Gifts. The title says it all in describing this charming recording from Blacksburg's Charles Bostian, Marya Katz and Jack Webster. The CD presents 19 tunes, all traditional Appalachian songs, many native to our part of the country. The material is performed in an unpretentious, almost unassuming style allowing the song to say what needs to be said. Many old time favorites are here which we may remember from childhood like "Frog Went A-Courtin' " and "The Fox." The mix is about half vocal and half instrumental, with the hammered dulcimer heavily featured. The kids will love this one."

--John Lawless

from Blue Ridge Jukebox


SG007 Christmas With Simple Gifts (2003)Christmas With Simple Gifts
Christmas With Simple Gifts 1Christmas With Simple Gifts 2


SG008 Between Sunset and Stars (2008)Between Sunset and Stars

Sunset and Stars

If you like Marya's compositions for the hammered dulcimer that appear on our recordings and want to play them yourself, you will enjoy her books.  Visit her websites at and .                                

Updated May 29, 2016