Multi-instrumentalist makes third stop of revival tour in Ames

Mariah Wellman

Willy Porter and guest performer Andy Goessling will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday at Bluestem in Ames. Porter is an acoustic guitarist who has built a strong Ames following during the past 20 years. Goessling is a multi-instrumentalist of a large jam band with more than 100,000 followers nationwide. Goessling is starting his Zither Revival Tour in Iowa, and planned his third show in Ames.

With his revival tour, Goessling is bringing the zither, an instrument that has become nearly extinct in the music scene since Anton Karas, back into the spotlight. Goessling was introduced to the instrument when he 12 years old after asking his mother what instruments they had in the attic and she brought out a zither. Goessling said he didn’t fully realize the difficulty of the instrument until years later. 

“[The zither] is an Austrian instrument, invented around 1850,” Goessling said. “What you’re doing is playing the melody on the fingerboard with a pick on your thumb, and accompanying yourself with the other strings. You’re using all 10 of your fingers the entire time, independently.”

Goessling hopes to increase the audience’s awareness of the zither’s rich sound and possibilities. He said he hopes his effort will result in more musicians turning to the zither and to the existing zither clubs around the country.

In addition to the zither, Goessling plays all of the wind and string instruments for the band Railroad Earth, including guitar, banjo, mandolin, slide guitar, clarinet, saxophone and flute.

“On Saturday I’m hopefully going to be playing some guitar and mandolin,” Goessling said. “I’m also going to do an assortment of acoustic instrumental music. On the zither I’ll do everything from Irish tunes, Swedish tunes, even a Beatles tune. And then some originals too.”

Goessling has a very large collection of valuable antique zithers, is very knowledgeable about the history of the instruments and in his free time can be found reconditioning antique instruments.

“When my mom gave me the zither out of the attic, as a kid you go ‘Wow, this is really cool.’ And at the time when I was young instruments were so cheap,” Goessling said. “There were antique shops everywhere. When I started collecting I got myself a paper route so I was making money and I think I bought a zither for $15, an amazing instrument.”

For more information on the event and to purchase tickets, go to the event’s Facebook page. Click here to watch Andy Goessling’s promotional video for his revival tour.