Sandy started playing the five-string banjo about 60 years ago, and he started playing penny whistles and flutes about 50 years ago. That’s when he first became passionately involved with contra dancing and playing for dances.
In the 1970’s, he was a founding member of the Roaring Jelly dance band (which is still going strong) and the Common Ground quintet. Back then, he also played occasionally with Dudley Laufman and the Canterbury Country Dance Orchestra. He subsequently spent over 20 years as the founder and director of two long-standing community contra dance bands, both of which are also still playing for monthly dances: The Berlin Country Dance Orchestra (Berlin, MA), and Oh, CONTRAire! (Westford, MA). He has recorded with a number of traditional musicians, including Tony Saletan, Jay Unger, Jerry Robichaud, and Trapezoid. He has also played for many well-know dance callers, including Dudley Laufman, Ted Sanella, Larry Jenkins, Tony Parkes, Lisa Greenleaf, and Sue Rosen.
In the 1970’s, he founded The Music School at the Music Emporium (then based in Cambridge, MA), and both taught there, and was the Executive Director. Over a period of four years, he grew that year-round school for traditional music into a thriving organization with a faculty of over 35 instructors, and about 400 students per semester.
For the past 25 years, Sandy has enjoyed bringing horns back into the instrumental mix of contra dance bands. (In the 1940’s and 50s, New England contra dance bands commonly incorporated horns as melody instruments.) He delights in playing traditional dance melodies note-for-note on his saxophone.
At Maine Fiddle Camp, Sandy has taught both penny whistle/flute, and Old Time five-string banjo. He also regularly rehearses and leads the Great Horned Ukestra (horns and ukuleles) in playing a foxtrot and a waltz at the end of every evening’s country dance.
At the upcoming Virtual (Winter) Maine Fiddle Camp, Sandy will be teaching penny whistle/flute. He can be reached at 15 Pipers Way, New Harbor, ME 04554 • (207) 677-6647.