The Alferd Packer Memorial String Band is five multi-instrumentalists, dressed in old time costumes, singing and playing fiddles, banjo, guitars, mandolin, hammered dulcimer, accordion, bass, and creative percussion. The band has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning with Bill Geist, and in a documentary called “Overlooked” which aired on KTKA-TV. They were the focus of articles in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Readers’ Digest. Their music has been used in a national broadcast on NPR. Their infectious good humor and high energy leave no toe untapped.
Alferd Packer the 1800’s Gold Prospector, Guide & Cannibal:
The Alferd Packer Memorial String Band is named after the gold prospector/guide turned cannibal Alferd Packer. Packer was the only American ever convicted of cannibalism. In the fall of 1870, five miners in Alferd’s charge headed for the Colorado gold fields. They ended up in Alferd’s stomach! At the conclusion of the trial, the judge’s exact words were, “Alferd Packer, you voracious man-eater, there were only seven Democrats in Hinsdale County, and you done et five of ’em.”
Fiddle, bass, vocals and big hair
Lauralyn has degrees in math and psychology, and for her Master’s theses in architecture helped design and build an energy efficient home. She teaches Italian at the University of Kansas. Considered too smart to play with the Packers, she uses her math skills to count out the rhythm. When the rhythm wavers Lauralyn berates the band in Italian.
Hammered dulcimer, accordian, snare drum, bodhran, vocals and vocal impressions
Matt’s picture is in the American Heritage Dictionary (American Heritage, 2nd college edition) next to “dulcimer”. He is an artist by trade, with a degree from the Kansas City Art Institute. He plays the hammered dulcimer that he designed and built.
Fiddle, Guitar, Bass, Mandolin and Vocals
For a day job Steve Mason is a luthier: one who repairs, improves and creates stringed instruments. To make a guitar he starts with a tree and carves away everything that doesn’t look like a guitar. He has a degree in Biology and he’s only five years of graduate school and a dissertation short of a PhD.
Guitar, mandolin, bass and vocals
Mike admits to being the chief photographer at The Lawrence Journal-World newspaper. Some of his photographs can be seen in the books “America 24/7” and “Kansas 24/7”. He usually drives the bus.
Banjo, bass, vocals
Noah is a teacher of visual art, graphic design and journalism at a small-town high school in north-eastern Kansas. He is the most recent addition to The Alferd Packer Memorial Stringband, joining the group in 2014.