Mellow Big Fellow
Before he was Legendary, Big Gerry Feher held every regular job under the sun. He worked as a maintenance man, he rented out cars at the airport, he cleaned windows and carpets, he drove buses and owned taxi cabs, but his first love was always music. In 1989 Gerry was living in Mammoth lakes Ca, a small town of a couple thousand residents on the eastern slope of California's Sierra Nevada mountains, playing guitar at country dances with old tyme string band Empty Pockets, never for a moment considering as realistic the far-fetched possibility that he might one day make a living playing traditional music. That was until he met hammered dulcimer player Glenn Morgan in the summer of 1994. By this time Big Gerry was already well acquainted with the beautiful and ghostly strains of the hammered dulcimer. Dulcimer mentors Joemy Wilson played the instrument, and so did Gerry's Empty Pockets band mate 'Bodie' Jack Shipley. But when Gerry met Glenn that summer at the California Traditional Music Society's annual festival in Calabasas, he was almost blown over in amazement. Glenn told Gerry that he was actually making a living playing the hammered dulcimer on the street! So was born the wild dream that eventually grew into Legendary Big Gerry and Mile 'n a Half High Music. Big Gerry bought his first dulcimer that year and with dedication bordering on obsession began to teach himself the intricacies of the instrument. By January of the following year he realized he was pretty good at the thing, and if Glenn could make a living, well by God so could he. In the spring of 1995 Gerry went from his home in Mammoth Lakes to the place with the busiest sidewalks in the Eastern Sierra: Virginia City, Nevada. He went directly to the county commissioners to ask permission to play his dulcimer for passers-by, but there was one problem: no one in the office had ever heard of a hammered dulcimer. He was told he would probably need a business license. Unaware that he was about to invent for himself a new profession, Gerry carried his dulcimer into the public meeting and gave a demonstration. The perplexed county commissioners looked at one another and finally said, 'Well, I don't have a problem with it,' and Gerry got his license. Immediately Gerry began work on his first album. Just before Memorial Day weekend, in the living room of a friend and with borrowed equipment, Gerry recorded eleven of his favorite tunes. Though he had no money to pay them, Gerry asked three of his Empty Pockets band mates to back him up: Sue Mehrhof on flute and pennywhistle, Charley Spiller on mandolin, and Martin Harris on backing vocals. Three days later, after a quick mix-down and mastering, Short for His Weight was complete in time for a Fourth of July shipment. With a pocketful of dreams and 500 cassettes, Big Gerry hit the wooden sidewalks of Virginia City and netted $1300 in his first weekend. Boosted by the outpouring of enthusiasm generated by his performing, Gerry continued to play, and at the end of ten weeks was astonished to discover he'd earned $10,000. What used to be Empty Pockets had become Pockets O' Gold. Big Gerry was beginning to believe he could do the impossible, or at least the highly unlikely: that he could make a living playing traditional music. Sitting in the hot summer sun on a Virginia City sidewalk trying to imagine what to do next, Gerry began rehearsing Christmas tunes. In October of 1995, after a week of intense recording involving members of what is now the Wild Mountain Tyme band, Big Gerry released his second album entitled A Sierra Christmas. It was a collection of traditional Christmas tunes with a Celtic flavor featuring a couple of Big Gerry originals. Public reaction was enthusiastic enough that Gerry, now with his own recording equipment, immediately went to work on his third recording: Large Furry Man with a Wee Cap. Released in early 1996, the album of Celtic, Old Tyme, and Civil War tunes became an instant success with traditional music fans from Reno to Los Angeles. In Virginia City Gerry had realized that success was inevitable if only he could expose more people to his music. Soon he was making the rounds on the craft show circuit, performing and selling his music all over California, Nevada and Arizona. Before he knew what was happening, Big Gerry's dream had grown into an independent music label. He released Big Celtic Buckskinner in September of 1998, and public response was electric. In January of 1999, Big Gerry met Nicolas Buckmelter, a young flute and tin whistle player with a love of traditional music, and invited him to play on a new album. Buckmelter accepted the invitation, and his flute, whistle and piano work played a prominent role on Mellow Big Fellow, Big Gerry's fifth album. Released in May of 1999, it featured the compositions of the legendary blind Irish harper Turlough O'Carolan. Public demand was so strong that Gerry went through his first 1,000 copies in a matter of months. In August of the same year, still on fire from the recent release of Mellow Big Fellow, Big Gerry and Nicolas Buckmelter went again into the studio to record Nicolas Buckmelter's 'Mountain Eire', an album of traditional Celtic flute and tin whistle music featuring musicians from all over the Eastern Sierra. Three months of passionate recording culminated in an all-night, nineteen-hour mix-down in prepartion for a Christmas release. Produced by Big Gerry and flavored with his backing guitar and hammered dulcimer, Mountain Eire became the first non-Big Gerry CD to be recorded on the Mile 'N A Half High record label in what is now Gerry's growing Mile 'n a Half High Studios. New, as of September 2001, Big Gerry has finished his SIXTH ALBUM, 'Pleasantly Plump Pirate', Music and Song of a Nautical Nature, a long-overdue album of great Celtic and Sea Shanty music with ' Wild Mountain Tyme', the band he's played with for years. Big Gerry and family curently reside in Las Vegas NV.