Overcome Your Jam Anxiety: Part 2

Overcome Your Jam Anxiety: Part 2

What’s your biggest fear about jamming? Recently we asked you on social media to share what makes you feel nervous about jamming. You gave us lots of wonderfully candid responses, including:

  • Not knowing the jam etiquette of a particular genre
  • Not playing as well as I do during my practice
  • Being asked to play a tune I don’t know
  • Playing with a group better than myself and then taking a lead and making a mistake
  • Messing up or not playing something cool enough
  • Trying to remember lyrics/tunes without reading
  • Experiencing performance anxiety
  • Playing out of tune or playing wrong notes
  • Entering a jam above my level
  • Doing fills and improvising

Relate to any of those? You can check out our responses to the first five concerns in this previous post. Today we’re tackling the second half of the list with specific tips on how to feel more confident in jam sessions. Want more tips like these? Sign up for our FREE two-week Perform with Confidence series to get extra jamming support.

Let’s jump in!

“I’m concerned I won’t be able to remember lyrics or tunes without sheet music.”

Especially if you come from a musical background where you’re used to reading music during your practice and performances, I understand that playing from memory can feel daunting initially. I promise you have what it takes. Here are my tips on how to feel more comfortable playing from memory:

1. Learn by ear from the start.

If you learn your tunes from sheet music, your brain will continue to rely on the sheet music even once you can play the tune. When you learn by ear from the beginning, you will commit the tune to memory much more easily. The tunes I learned by ear as a kid are still in my mind and come back to me quickly, but that’s not the case with pieces I learned from sheet music. Curious how you can start to learn by ear? Our Fiddle School method teaches every tune by ear and is a great place to begin.

2. Identify patterns in your tunes.

When you read, you don’t read letter by letter or even word by word; instead, you chunk small groups of words together as you read, recognizing sentence patterns as you go. Memorizing tunes is the same way: you want to think not of individual notes one after another, but of the patterns that the notes create. “Oh, I see that this section is mostly composed of an A scale, then there’s that spot with the string crossings.”

3. Give yourself clear cues.

You need to be able to describe to yourself exactly what you’re doing in each song you play. “First I play my basic A part, then I play the second A with the slur variation. Then I play my first B part, which starts on C natural…” As you learn tunes and practice them, make sure you can clearly describe what happens in each part so that as you play, you can give yourself those same cues. The same goes for lyrics: remind yourself of the form of the song, the starting lyrics of each verse, and any other landmark moments. And hey, if you’re in a jam session and you want to come prepared with a cheat sheet of lyric reminders, that’s totally fine.

“I have performance anxiety.”

Nerves are one of the biggest reasons that folks stay away from jam sessions, but it shouldn’t be! Here are some our tips for overcoming your unease:

1. Go to observe first.

If you’ve never been to a jam session, let yourself go to one just to watch. This can give you a better idea of what to expect and allow you to meet some friendly faces in a totally relaxed setting before you jump in.

2. Remember that music is made for community.

It can be easy to fall into the trap of practicing until you’re “good enough” to jam, but as soon as you know one song, you’re good enough! We’re not meant just to practice indefinitely—music is best when we make it together. Jamming is great way to build your musical support system, get inspired, and give shape to why you play. Focus on those positive aspects when you jam.

3. Sign up for our FREE Perform with Confidence series.

We know that many folks share this same challenge, so we created a free two-week deep dive into specific tools you can use to feel calm when you play in front of others. It includes information on everything from bridging the gap between practice and performance, finding a flow, building a supportive inner dialogue, and more. Sign up here.

“What if I play out of tune or play a wrong note?”

What if that happened? Let’s imagine for a moment. You start your tune, play some notes out of tune and some you didn’t even mean to play, and then… you keep playing! No big deal. Everyone at a jam has played out of tune before. Everyone has played a wrong note. While you can continue to hone your intonation during your practice and look for improvement from jam to jam, don’t let the fear of making a mistake keep you from playing. Find a supportive group of jam buddies and trust that even when you make a mistake, you and your fellow musicians can just shrug it off.

“What if I join a jam that’s too advanced for me?”

It’s always a good idea to watch and listen to a jam for a while before doing anything else. If you feel like the general level of the jam doesn’t match up with where you are in your playing right now, it’s fine to just hang out and listen. In fact, so much of what I know came from just sitting and listening to jams. I encourage you to listen to jams on a regular basis.

If you decide that the jam is at an appropriate level for you and you’re invited to join, then play a few tunes and enjoy! Keep your discourse positive. Tell the other jammers what you enjoy about their playing and remember: there’s no place for negative self-talk. Savor the chance to make music with others!

“What if I need to do fills or improvise?”

If you haven’t worked on either of these things in your playing yet, that’s fine. Remember that you never have to do anything that you’re not ready to do. If you’re offered a solo, a simple shake of the head will tell the song leader to pass over you.

If you want to learn how to do fills and improvise, we have some tools that can help. Check out our webinar duo Jamming Skills 1 and Jamming Skills 2 to learn more about how to tackle fills and solos. I also recommend checking out Katie’s Swing Improv Workouts, which are designed to give you tools to solo, understand music theory, and feel more confident jamming.

I hope these tips help you! Still have questions? Send us an email at learn@fiddleschool.com. We’re always happy to help.

How to Overcome Your Fear of Jamming: Part 1

What’s your biggest fear about jamming? Recently we asked you on social media to share what makes you feel nervous about jamming. You gave us lots of wonderfully candid responses, including:

  • Not knowing the jam etiquette of a particular genre
  • Not playing as well as I do during my practice
  • Being asked to play a tune I don’t know
  • Playing with a group better than myself and then taking a lead and making a mistake
  • Messing up or not playing something cool enough
  • Trying to remember lyrics
  • Performance anxiety coupled with shyness
  • Bad intonation or playing wrong notes
  • Ruining the jam for everyone else
  • Not having sheet music
  • Doing fills
  • Improvising

Relate to any of those?

Before we jump into the specifics of these jam fears, I just want you to recognize that you’re not alone in feeling however you feel about jam sessions. Jams require you to put yourself out there, be vulnerable, and accept imperfections. Those characteristics can make jamming feel like a challenge sometimes, but those elements are also one reason I love jamming so much: it’s an opportunity for us to create deeper connection with each other and share in the creative process (which is never perfect). With those priorities in mind, let’s talk more about some of those fears listed above (stay tuned for Part 2) and look at some potential tools to help you feel more comfortable and confident at your next jam session.

“I’m afraid I don’t know the jam etiquette of this genre.”

Every style of music has its own particular jam etiquette. At some jams, you’ll see people reading music, while at others, everyone plays from memory. Sometimes jams will pass tunes from one person to another, while others will spotlight one musician for many tunes in a row. If you want a basic primer on  jam session etiquette in the fiddle world, check out our blog post where we break down three of the most common types of jams.

In general, there are a few rules of thumb that will keep you on any jam’s good side.

  1. Listen before you join. Whatever the type of jam, it’s always helpful to listen to at least a tune or two before asking to join. That way, you can get a feel for what the jam is like, assess if it’s the right level for you, and settle in before joining.
  2. If it’s a jam that’s been publicized and people have already been invited to participate, you can join after listening by asking one of the participants something like, “Mind if I jump in?”
  3. If it’s a jam that you haven’t yet been invited to join, you can often expect for the jammers to ask you to join after you’ve been hanging out and listening for a while (if they’re open to adding more people.)
  4. If you’d like to ask someone if you can join their jam, be sure that you assess the level first and note if it’s right for you. If it feels too advanced, sit this one out and enjoy listening. If it feels like it’s an appropriate level for you to join, you can politely ask between songs, “Hey, do you mind if I join you or are you keeping it small?” This gives the jammers an opportunity to invite you in or to gently decline if they’re intentionally having a smaller jam.
  5. Keep a close eye on what the more seasoned jammers are doing. When they call a song, do they also share the key and the form? When someone takes a solo, how long is it? When someone is doing fills or singing, how do the other jammers respond? Just by watching and mimicking the behavior of the other folks in the jam, you can pick up on a lot of jam etiquette. In general, I try to find the most experienced person in the jam and copy them. As you get the lay of the land at a new jam session, blending in is a good thing.

“I’m afraid I won’t play as well as I do during my practice.”

Practicing and jamming are two different skill sets. When you practice, you’re in a very controlled environment. During practice, you’re probably at home in a comfy chair, going through the same routine that you do every time you practice. If you make a mistake, you probably let yourself go back and fix it (hopefully!) You’re constantly thinking about what you can improve, then working to do so.

But when the time to jam comes, even though you’re playing the same tunes that you’ve practiced so many times, your brain perceives events very differently. You’re probably in a less familiar space, playing tunes in a different order and tempo than you normally do. If you make a mistake, there’s no going back. All of these sudden changes combined can overload your brain and make it feel like you’ve never played fiddle before—because biologically, you are doing something totally new when you break out of your practice routine. Here are a couple suggestions for how to train your brain to be more prepared in a jam setting:

  1. Change up your practice routine. Try playing your tunes in a different order, practicing your B part before your A part, standing up when you normally sit down, putting away sheet music that you’ve been using as a crutch, trying things at a slower or faster tempo for a bit, or anything else you can think of to switch things up. When you introduce novelty into your practice routine, not only will you be more prepared to jam, but you’ll make faster, more permanent progress in all areas of your playing. Keep it fresh!
  2. Practice playing all the way through your tunes as if you’re performing them every time you practice. This is what we call “Action Time” in Fiddle School: the portion of your practice when you put on your game face and practice playing your tunes like you want to play them in a jam or performance. This means using back-up tracks, recovering from mistakes instead of stopping, and playing them at the tempo where you plan to perform them. When you practice, you can’t just focus on the tiny details the whole time. You’ve got to take the detailed work you’ve done on your technique, intonation, bowing and more and bring it into the big picture.During action time, you’re not focused on getting every little element just right. You’re focused on connecting to the groove and feeling of the music as you play the whole song. These skills are what will allow you to navigate gracefully and confidently through your tunes at a jam session or other performance.

“I’m afraid of being asked to play a tune I don’t know.”

Imagine this scenario: you’re at a jam, surrounded by awesome musicians playing a cool tune you’ve never heard. Suddenly, one of them nods at you to take the next solo. But—gasp—you don’t know this song! What can you do?

The most obvious option here is to give a firm shake of the head and pass it on to the next person, and that’s always okay. If you don’t know a tune’s chords or melody, that’s often the best choice. But ideally, as you get more comfortable jamming, you can acquire the skills it takes to figure out a tune’s key, chords, and maybe even the basic melody on the fly. Those aren’t things that you’re born knowing how to do, so if you can’t do that yet, don’t worry. These are skills you can learn.

In fact, Katie hosted a webinar specifically designed to help you feel more comfortable jumping into unfamiliar tunes on the fly. Check out our Jamming Skills webinar (available anytime) to begin building your confidence for next time you’re in a jam and somebody calls a tune you don’t know very well.

“I’m afraid of playing with a group better than myself and then making a mistake.”

One of the most common fears about playing an instrument is that you’ll be judged. All the fears that we carry with us about not being good enough can come right to the surface when we open ourselves up and play in public. But although it’s an uncomfortable feeling, that fear is showing you that you’re stepping out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself to a new level of ability—both wonderful things. So first of all, when you feel the fear, remind yourself that it’s an indicator that you’re doing something that’s helping you grow. Kudos to you.

Secondly, it’s a really cool opportunity to be able to play with people more advanced than you are. Everything I learned on my instrument, I learned by playing with and listening to generous people who were (and are) more advanced than I. If you’re invited to jam with people above your level, take that chance! They were all beginners once and they all definitely make mistakes. Most folks will be gentle and welcoming. If they’re not, move on and find a jam that fits you better. Either way, you win.

“I’m afraid of messing up or not playing something cool enough.”

Mistakes are part of music. There is no musician who plays mistake-free, no matter what people tell you. The best musicians do know how to move through mistakes gracefully and even make them into something awesome, though, and you can do that too.

Instead of watching yourself from an outside perspective when you’re jamming (“Oof, I bet they heard that flat note… I wonder if they like my version of this song?”), try focusing on being present in your own experience and cultivating a supportive inner voice. If you’re having fun and simply enjoying the act of making music, the people playing with you and listening to you are going to really enjoy it too.

Stay tuned for our next blog post when we talk about the rest of these jamming worries and how to overcome them. In the meantime, go find a jam! Happy fiddling.

Fiddler Spotlight: Luke Price

Fiddler Spotlight: Luke Price

Today, we are beginning our “Fiddler Spotlight” column. Every so often, we’ll introduce you to a fiddler who we think you’ll enjoy getting to know. To start us off, here’s a dear friend who I grew up with: Luke Price.
 
I met Luke at Weiser (the National Oldtime Fiddler’s Contest) way back in 1994 when we were young fiddlers soaking up the scene at thePhoto of Luke Price smiling and holding the first place trophy at the National Fiddle Old Time Championships. festival. I appreciated his playing right away—and I also appreciated just how much fun he is to jam with. Over the years, it’s always been exciting to compete with him at fiddle contests (one year we tied at the Colorado State Championships and played 19 songs before he was finally declared the winner)—but beyond all that, we’ve had lots of fun just jamming together with our buddies in the campgrounds, which is something I always look forward to at contests. And hey, if you’re coming to the Fiddle School Mountain Retreat in August, you’ll get to jam with Luke too as he’s going to be one of our teachers this year!
 

A few thoughts on Luke as a musician: he really is a one-of-a-kind fiddler, that guy who’s creative and tasteful and plays phrases you’ve never even thought of, all while also sounding traditional and honoring the greats. How does he do this? He has his own style and voice. Close your eyes at the contest or jam circle and you know it’s him every time. Luke’s focus on groove and innovation are both hallmarks of his high level of musicianship. And let me tell you, it is so much fun to have him back you up on guitar too. Oh, and for you cocktailers, Luke can make a heck of an Old Fashioned. Good to know.

 
So may I introduce to you, Mr. Luke Price.
 

About Luke: Luke Price is a multi-instrumentalist performer, composer, and studio musician based in Portland, OR. He has his roots in American fiddling and swing traditions, which have influenced his rhythm, taste, and style as they have spread into Soul, Jazz, Pop, and Americana. Luke brings a unique voice to any music he plays, whether he’s on the fiddle, electric guitar, or singing.

Growing up in Boise, Idaho, Luke began competing in fiddle contests and playing around the country. He’s won a plethora of contests, awards, and scholarships. He is a four-time (and current) National Fiddle Champion. His love for rhythm and improvisation born out of these traditional music styles led him to Boston, MA to attend The Berklee College of Music, where he met his now wife and musical partner, Rachael Price, to form their Soul Pop band, “Love, DEAN.” After graduation, they moved to Portland, OR where they continue to play, teach, and write.

Luke has played with a variety of outstanding musicians and always tends to bring some good times to any music he’s making. He is known for his taste, rhythm, tight harmonies, and inventive ideas. He has toured, played, and recorded with folks including Tony Furtado, Scott Law, Jesse Harper (of Love Canon), Stephen Malkmus, Lee Ann Womack, Tristan and Tashina Clarridge, Simon Chrisman, Ben Krakauer, Matt Hartz, and John Hermann.

Luke’s website: https://lukedeanprice.wordpress.com

 

Here’s a snippet I took from the stage during Luke’s 3rd round at the National Oldtime Fiddler’s Contest 2022! Can you tell that this is I Don’t Love Nobody? Enjoy it!
 
 
 
 
 
Stories From The 2022 National Old Time Fiddle Contest

Stories From The 2022 National Old Time Fiddle Contest

by Katie Glassman
 
I began going to the National Oldtime Fiddler’s Contest in 1994. It takes place in Weiser Idaho and hence, all of us regulars call it “Weiser.” Over the years, those trips to Weiser always gave me that needed jolt of inspiration, friendship, and community. Taking place the third full week of June every year, it was always like my “Christmas.” I would plan my trip and my tunes all year long. Between us, it’s all I ever thought about — so sure, I never quite felt like I fit in at school.
 
When you drive to Weiser, you are immediately slowed down to 35 mph hour as you drive through the small yet festive town. Blasting fiddle music in the car, you’ll pass the large hanging fiddles on the light posts. If you follow them, you’ll eventually end up at the high school grounds, where the contest, camping, and jamming happens. As a kid, I remember arriving at Weiser and immediately feeling butterflies, I could barely wait for the car to stop. That first year, there were 90 people in the Junior Division (13-17), and I came in 52nd place — which sure was a wake-up call. I then practiced so much (and loved every bit of time on my fiddle) that by the time I was 17, I finished in 1st place!
 
Weiser is where I learned about the fiddle greats from the past and present. I remember watching Danita Gardner win the Grand Champion division in 1999, the first woman ever to do this! And there were so many epic jams that I got to hear — and participate in — over the ensuing years with people like Jimmie Don Bates, the Rast sisters, Carl Hopkins, Gene Gimble, Paul Anastasio… I could go on and on. Oh, and everyone was always saying that things were never as good there as “the old days.” Well, I thought they were pretty darn great. And still do!
 
Fast forward to 2022… it was pretty awesome to see Britton, Ellis, Evie, and Alexis compete in the Junior Junior Division. They all did an incredible job. They played under the four-minute time limit, with a good groove, good intonation, and plenty of feeling! Britton and Evie made the first cut and got to play a second round. I think the Weiser experience will light a big fire for all of those kids for the year. Needless to say, they began playing guitar throughout the week, and Sydney (you’ve probably seen Sydney Green play guitar in all of the Session 1 videos) was a superstar to jam with them and teach them throughout the week.
 
Next to our campsite was one of our very first Fiddle School students and longtime fiddler, Louise Terpstra. I happened to be walking by when I spotted her jamming with Susumu Okano — that’s right, Susumu flew all the way out from Japan to compete at Weiser. I sat down and we jumped right into playing 10 or so tunes. The whole time, I was thinking that it was just surreal to be there after recovering from my breast cancer saga. I felt so at home just playing music with my people.
 
Louise, Susumu, and Donna competed in the Senior Division alongside many good fiddlers. I had the pleasure of being a part of their backup teams. Everyone made it to the second round, and Donna came in 5th place!
 
Next up was Seiji in the online division. Being a new division, it was a thrill for everyone to have a fiddler attending from Japan. Seiji played two quality rounds, and we are so very proud of him for competing at a national contest!
 
Then there’s Jesse Quintana from Colorado. This was his second year in the Junior division and he was there to defend his title. And defend he did, Jesse took the whole dang deal — he played solidly, smoothly, and with so much personality that it won us all over. Jesse takes lessons from Celeste; we are so very proud of him — winning the junior division is no small feat. And now he’s done it twice!
 
Our Celeste. She was a judge this year. The judging panel had four judges, with three on duty each time. She was at our camp jamming whenever she wasn’t in that high school library keeping scores for every single contestant. I think judging may be even harder than competing. Great job, Celeste!
 
Luke Price. I’ve grown up with Luke and have so much more to share about who he is. But what I’ll say for now is that he’s one of our Mountain Retreat instructors, and he won the Grand National Championship! I love Luke’s style of playing and really, really enjoyed his rounds. Congrats, Luke!
 
I had some wonderful jams with our buddies Anne and Scott Sumner, Carl Hopkins, Luke, Nat, and Sydney. Playing music is the best moment of any day for me, and this Weiser gave me days and days of joyful musical moments. And now I’m looking forward to competing again in 2023. I was inspired by EVERYONE who played on that stage.
 
Overall, I feel like Weiser is still very much alive and well. I hope that you get a chance to attend and soak up some of that fiddle inspiration that I’ve thrived on for all of these years.
 
Why Are Fiddle Gatherings Important?

Why Are Fiddle Gatherings Important?

Celeste Johnson plays a fiddle tune with Katie Glassman on guitar in a Texas-style jam session.Growing up, music gatherings like fiddle camps and contests were my absolute favorite thing in the world. Each year, I looked forward to these gatherings like other kids looked forward to Christmas or trips to Disneyland. I could not imagine anything more perfect than spending time with friends I loved and artists I admired, all of us there because of our shared passion for traditional music. Those camps and contests were the reason I made many of my dearest friends, discovered a lot about what lights me up, and really honed my musical skills as a fiddler and an accompanist.

The longer I’ve been fiddling, the more I understand why fiddle camp and fiddle contest experiences are so transformative and so essential to this style of music: musical gatherings like these are how old-time fiddling developed into the storied art form it is today. I’m not just talking about jam sessions where everyone shows up for a couple hours and then goes home. I’m talking about high-investment gatherings, those where you have to load up your covered wagon and drive out many hours to get to the square dance. The musical gatherings at the foundation of fiddling were more than transient experiences. They were the reason that people came together, the glue within communities, and the channel through which new musical variations and techniques spread to different regions.

Today, you probably don’t have to load up your covered wagon to get to a square dance. In fact, you can hear the same music our predecessors would’ve heard at a square dance many miles away, simply by opening a new browser tab. We’re living in different times. We have unlimited access to any kind of music or musical instruction that tickles our fancy, and we don’t even have to leave home to get it. But even though our cultural milieu has changed—after all, we don’t need to tie up the horses and spend the night at the hootenanny before driving back to the farm anymore—there’s still a thriving selection of in-person musical gatherings, camps, contests, festivals, and more. People will still travel hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles, to participate in these experiences. After two years of the Zoom life, I’m sure you could easily name a dozen reasons why.

Making music together in person is different. It requires a commitment from each person present: “I am here to create this with you—we, inKatie Glassman holding a guitar at a Texas fiddle jam session this moment, are playing this song that will never be quite the same again.” The act of making music together requires collaboration, spontaneity, intimacy. And that’s just one song we’re talking about. When people come together for longer periods of time (at a fiddle camp or fiddle contest, say), there’s space for even more. Community forms, curiosity grows, and we experience deep inspiration through this musical tradition of which we are stewards. When we dedicate our time, our physical presence, and our attention to anything on that level, incredible changes happen. That’s why these experiences are so dear to me and so many other musicians I know. Every time we come together to make music, we walk away feeling inspired, grateful, and connected to the music and the community in a way that nothing else can imitate. 

I like to think that those feelings of inspiration and connection are the same ones that urged people to pack up their covered wagons and gather together more than a hundred years ago. Today, even though our times have changed, those sentiments are still at the heart of the fiddling tradition.

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Are you still looking for a fiddle gathering that gives you this kind of warm fuzzy feeling and provides a community of folks who love fiddling as much as you do? Check out our Fiddle School Mountain Retreat. Here’s what some of our students have said about it:

“My goal in coming to the retreat was to give myself the time to focus on my fiddling and to socialize with others who have the same focus.”

“The location provided an inspiring setting to learn, enjoy nature, bring folks together from all over to share their love of fiddling and music. Everyone went home happy and inspired to keep playing!”

Camp provided the motivation to practice harder.”

“It felt safe. I enjoyed the slower pace and the kindness with which each jam leader led.”

“Katie’s Fiddle School Mountain Retreat was the most impactful, positive, powerful, organized and focused fiddle/music camp I have ever experienced! I learned so much and am so encouraged to continue my personal enjoyment and improvement on my fiddling skills!”

To learn more about the retreat, click here.

An Evening in Conversation with Andy Stein (LIVE): Coming Soon to Fiddle School

An Evening in Conversation with Andy Stein (LIVE): Coming Soon to Fiddle School

I must have been about ten years old when I discovered Andy Stein on the car radio while my parents were listening to “Prairie Home Companion.” Sure I was young, but I remember his music as a sort of revelation. He was one of the first jazz violinists I’d EVER heard, and I knew then that this was a style that I’d want to play someday. So, years later, when I first met Andy while teaching a camp together, I was thrilled to hear his musical stories and take in his virtuosity and playful sense of humor. It is with great pleasure that I announce him as our SPECIAL SATURDAY NIGHT GUEST ARTIST at Fiddle School’s online Swing Improv Weekend. If you’d like to come to our live conversation with Andy, reserve your spot here.

Our Saturday night interview specials conducted by entertainment professional, Adam Kulakow, have been a smashing success. Come get to know Andy and the legends he’s met along the way.

Join us as a half-day camper or buy a ticket to attend the interview with Andy Stein. To learn more about him, read on and take a listen to this clip of him playing “Sunshine,” originally recorded by Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang His resume is nothing short of extraordinary.

 

Andy Stein is a musician with a “checkered past.” Besides freelancing as a violinist/violist in chamber and orchestra groups in his native New York, he has recorded with Itzhak Perlman, Placido Domingo, Marilyn Horne, Frederica Von Stade, toured China with a string quartet, and performed concertos with orchestras in New York, Chicago, New England, Pacific Northwest, and the South. He has appeared on numerous television programs including Late Night with David Letterman, Saturday Night Live, Great performances (PBS) and As The World Turns (CBS). He has also been a featured soloist in a number of Broadway Shows, including the Lincoln Center production of “Anything Goes,” and the 1990’s Broadway revivals of “Guys and Dolls” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” He has produced records of rock ‘n’ roll and jazz, and conducted on radio and television.

For twenty-two years his violin and saxophone were heard weekly (hopefully not weakly) on public radio nationwide, as a member of the Guys All-Star Shoe Band, the “house band” on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor.

Andy entered the popular music field as a founding member of Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen, where his distinctive style on violin and saxophone added a swing element to this beloved rock ‘n’ roll band of the early ’70’s. He subsequently worked with Asleep at the Wheel, Emmylou Harris, Bob Dylan, Dr. John, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Charlie Daniels, Marshall Tucker Band, Aerosmith, Billy Joel, Alan Menken, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Smashing Pumpkins, Grover Washington Jr., Chakka Kahn, Diane Reeves, Barabara Cook, Audra McDonald, Dionne Warwick, Ray Charles, B. B. King, Memphis Horns, Eric Clapton, Whitney Houston, Kathie Lee Gifford, Manhattan Transfer, Tony Bennet, Carol King, James Taylor, Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, etc. and holds a Grammy award for Best Country Instrumental 1978. He has performed for two Presidents of the United States, the President of the Dominican Republic, four mayors of New York, and for the Native American occupying force on Alcatraz.

It’s an honor and a pleasure to welcome Andy as our guest at the upcoming Swing Improv Weekend virtual camp. If you’d like to attend Andy’s talk, hear more about his musical history and philosophy, and pose questions of your own, you can get your ticket here.

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