Joe Collins

Joe Collins


Hilarious and just plain entertaining, singer/songwriter Joe Collins combines great mountain dulcimer wizardry with good, solid vocals for a show appropriate for all ages. He is also the 2007 National Mountain Dulcimer Champion!


3rd place - National Mountain Dulcimer Championships - 2003, 2004, & 2006
1st place Mountain Dulcimer - Mid-Eastern Regional Championship - 2005 & 2002
1st place Vocal - Coshocton Dulcimer Days - 2005 & 2002
1st place Dulcimer Duet (w/ Gary Sager) - Coshocton Dulcimer Days - 2005
1st place Mountain Dulcimer - Kentucky State Championship - 2003
1st place Folk Singing - Bryson City Fiddlers' Convention - 2001

Joe Collins has been a folk musician and mountain dulcimer player since the late 70s. He is a songwriter, vocalist, and an occasional guitarist originally inspired by artists like Simon & Garfunkle, Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Dylan, and Kris Kristofferson. However, now that he is older and "pudgier," he realizes that Burle Ives was a much stronger influence than he ever imagined. His performances are sprinkled with a lot of humor and some excellent mountain dulcimer playing - sure to bring a smile to audiences of all ages.

Joe graduated from East Carolina University with Bachelor and Master degrees in English, from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity with Religious Education, and from NC State University with a Doctorate in Adult Education. He has worked in Religious Education for most of his professional career and is an assistant professor of religion at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, NC. And, of course, he continues to build dulcimers, write songs, and accept as many opportunities to perform as he can!

As much as he loves sharing his music and craft, he loves the opportunity to share his faith in Jesus Christ even more. Without being pushy, he is open and honest about his faith in all kinds of musical venues. He currently resides in Shelby, NC with his family of four.

Joe often plays with his good friend and guitarist Mike McGee. They began playing together in 1988 and have "cross-pollinated" one another with their varied backgrounds.

Serving together on the same church staff for over eleven years as the Minister of Education and Minister of Music respectively, they had plenty of time to develop a unique folk sound with dulcimer and guitar. They play a variety of music which includes their interpretations of well-known and lesser known Celtic tunes, modern folk arrangements of traditional hymns, fun fiddle tunes, and a host of original pieces they have written over the years. However, they have also dug into their pasts to dig out classical, beach, James Taylor, and classic pop tunes for their repertoire.

Whether as solo acts or as a duet, their performances are varied and fun for all types of audiences.

Joe has also become a popular teacher in mountain dulcimer festivals around the country and welcomes any inquiries from festival organizers that includes opportunities to teach. FOR A LIST OF MOUNTAIN DULCIMER WORKSHOPS ALREADY DEVELOPED BY JOE COLLINS, GO TO


Biggest Man in the Town

Written By: Joe Collins

1. Just a little boy in a big ol’ town
The bullies never left him alone
It’s tough growing up when you’re by yourself
And you have to make it on your own

2. So Zack grew up, but not very tall;
“Midget” and “runt” were the names he was called.
The boys would joke and the girls would smile,
And Zack would stand with his back ‘gainst a wall.

(And he’d say,)

One of these days, I’m gonna be big.
Nobody’s gonna push me around.
They’ll all quit making fun of me
When I’m the biggest man in the town.
They’ll all quit making fun of me
When I’m the biggest man in the town.

3. So Zack got a job and he worked real hard,
And the money came rolling in.
His wallet got bigger while his heart got small,
And he remembered his dream with a grin.


Then one day a celebrity
came to old Zack’s home
He spoke of life and showed him love
And showed him that he wasn’t alone.
Well, Zack decided then and there
To change the things he’d done.
Cause he realized that in God’s eyes,
There was nobody big but one.

4. So Zack let the pain and the money go.
All the insults he forgave.
Salvation came to his house that day,
And later you could hear people say,

CHORUS (revised)
Something happened to Zaccheus that day;
He stopped pushing us around.
We’d never dream of making fun of him;
He’s the biggest man in the town.

We’d never dream of making fun of him;
He’s the biggest man in the town.

Curse the WWF

Written By: Joe Collins

1. The sweetest gal I’ve ever known
Is now my favorite wife
We’ve kept the embers burning now
For most of both our lives
We’ve raised two kids, a house, a barn,
Four dogs and one blind goat.
The emotions that I feel right now
Are sticking in my throat.

2. For faithfully I swore to her
For better or for worse.
The better has been wonderful;
The worse has been a curse
For even though she’s beautiful,
A joy, a treasure dear,
She has a single, fatal flaw
That I have grown to fear

3. For every night at eight o’clock
When suppertime is done
She sits in front of the TV
To have a little fun
Hulk Hogan is her hero;
The “Rock” her idol fair.
And I become the sacrifice
To wrestling’s favorite pair.

And I get tossed and twisted
And hit ‘til I turn blue
I hate to cry but sometimes I
Don’t know what else to do.
If I didn’t love my wife
I would have long since left
So ‘til I die, I
Will curse the WWF

4. I learned about full nelsons
Oh, so painfully.
Ring buckles and body slams
Put the fear of God in me.
When she watches “Smackdown,”
My sweet wife goes insane.
I’m thankful for the sleeper hold
It relieves me of my pain.


5. The ringside nightmare’s only worse
When family comes around.
Her Ma and Pa do tag team
Her brothers start to pound.
Her little sister joins the act
With chairs and frying pans.
The only strategy I have
Is to duck the best I can!


6. I guess I should be grateful
For twenty-three hours a day
When my wife is so demure;
I like her that-a-way.
Don’t try to sell me cable
Or Satellite TV
Cause 24 hours of wrestling
Would be the death of me!


Hymns for the Hearth (1994) – folk arrangements of traditional hymns

The Dancing of Time (1999) – a mixture of Celtic, hymns, and original pieces

Erin’s Wish (2002) – a collection of Christmas instrumentals

For the Fun of It (2003) – a collection of funny and feel good songs w/ vocals

Looking Ahead (2008) - some wonderful instrumental arrangements of original, Celtic, and popular music including songs by Carole King, James Taylor, James Horner, and Chet Atkins.

Included on Great Players of the Mountain Dulcimer (2001) – a collection of players from all over the country.

Set List

I have no typical set list since I have widely varying audiences - from preschoolers to adult coffeehouses. I also do different sets for community concerts and church programs. My sets vary from 15 minutes to 2 hours or more.

Here is a list of several songs I do often:

I’ll Fly Away
What a Friend We Have in Jesus
Nearer My God to Thee
Holy Manna
Amazing Grace
Simple Gifts
Be Thou My Vision
I Saw the Light
The River Wide
Jesus Loves Me

Gone Fishin’ *
Ain’t Misbehavin’
Rosin the Beau
Mississippi Sawyer
Blue Ridge Traveller *
Napolean Crossing the Rhine
Aldia’s Waltz *
Loch Lomond
Shortnin’ Bread
Auld Lang Syne
Cluck Ole’ Hen
Turkey in the Straw
My Heart Will Go On
Lord Inchiquin
Si Bheag Si Mhor
Fanny Power
Beauty In Tears
The Fair and Charming Eileen O’Carroll
Under the Board Walk
Sloop John B.
Sweet Baby James
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?
William Tell Overture
I Can’t Help Falling in Love with Yo