AlpenFolk is playing in Front Street Park in Leavenworth this weekend.

This Volksmusik group is fronted by vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Thomas Tilton. The breadth of Thomas' musicianship is startling. One of his responsibilities is playing the alphorn, a charmingly ornate wooden wind instrument that has thrived for millennia in its country of origin: Switzerland. "Volksmusik" is the German translation of "Alpine folk music."

Fittingly enough, in his downtime Thomas belongs to another band called the Leavenworth Alphorns. (You may remember the oversized alphorn replica from those iconic, ubiquitous cough drop commercials.)

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Along with his wife, dulcimer wizard Cori Pflug-Tilton, Thomas cofounded Alpen Folk nearly 40 years ago. The dulcimer is a fretted string instrument. Its very usage dispels certain misconceptions about Volksmusik.

"Most people think of Alpine music as being brassy," Thomas says. "But the dulcimer fits in quite nicely and is, in fact, a  recognized folk instrument of this genre."

The couple's son is guitarist Peter Pflug-Tilton. Although the "baby" of the group, much younger than its founding folkies, Paul knows a thing or two; having performed Volksmusik since he was a toddler, he is thoroughly steeped in genre conventions and mores.

"[Peter] is just kind of a born musician," Thomas says with a wry chuckle.

Leavenworth, of course, is renowned nationwide for its rustic Bavarian charm. Thomas has lived there for many years. He says that the quaint environs suit his family perfectly.

"It certainly provides a home for our particular genre and our musical style," Thomas says. "In that sense it does enhance our creativity."

Leavenworth: North Central Washington's Alpine Village

Ranked as one of the best places in the country to spend Christmas

Gallery Credit: Mark Rattner with KPQ Newsradio 560

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