“I’m trying in my own way to see these musical traditions continue to flourish.”
In the fall of 1976 Andy Davis walked into a small dance hall in Unity, New Hampshire. A contra dance was in progress and, having recently moved to New England from Virginia, Andy was looking for a way to “fit in.” Finding the musicians friendly, he volunteered to play piano to back up the fiddle and concertina. This joyful evening of traditional dance music —plus an entirely unexpected twelve dollars! — led to a steady schedule of dances for the next twenty-five years.
Andy now plays accordion and calls dances as well as playing banjo and piano. He teaches in the public schools of Dover and Brattleboro, Vermont, and as a visiting artist-in-residence. He specializes in teaching traditional dance and music. His work with young people led to his participation on two trips to Novosibirsk, Russia in 1988 and 1989. Andy has appeared as a dance musician, teacher and song leader at many well-known traditional music and dance camps throughout the United States.
Andy’s calling of square and contra dances is often for the benefit of small community dances where dancers of all ages and levels of experience are encouraged to join in. His commitment to promoting traditional dance in schools and communities led him to start, along with Peter and Mary Alice Amidon and Mary Cay Brass, New England Dancing Masters, publishers of books, recordings and a video for teachers and recreation leaders.
Each December since 1987 Andy performs throughout new England with Nowell Sing We Clear, a concert of mid-winter carols, with Tony Barrand, John Roberts and Fred Breunig. The group specializes in traditional songs, shape-note hymns and instrumental dance music and customs from Christian and pagan traditions.
Andy makes his home in Brattleboro, Vermont. In addition to maintaining a schedule of concerts, residencies and community dances, Andy teaches young people how to get involved in playing traditional contra dance music. “It gives me a warm feeling when I see how accessible this music is to young musicians. I’m trying in my own way to see these musical traditions continue to flourish.”