A Southern Appalachian native Dan was raised with Old Time Music. He has become a true master musician and teacher in both the Clawhammer Banjo style and Old Time Fiddling. His dad called square dances and his mom played guitar, piano and sang. With 14 Mel Bay publications including his innovative Clawhammer Banjo From Scratch and 10 recordings to his name, Dan is one of the undisputed influences on today’s old time music aficionados.
Dan is a modern day troubadour in the truest sense of the word. A full time musician, Dan travels the country with banjo and fiddle singing songs and telling stories of the road. Dan was born and raised Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania the northernmost city of Southern Appalachia. Dan’s parents were Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania natives as well and they raised him with the music he has come to perform. His father, Fred, called dances and his mother, Naomi, played piano, guitar, and sang in several musical groups in the Pittsburgh area including her temple choir. They even met at a square dance!
Dan has been touring internationally for over 20 years now. In that time he has become a well known master artist and instructor of the Appalachian style fiddle and old time clawhammer banjo. He now makes his home in Tucson, AZ when not on the road.
His stage show, An Evening with Dan Levenson, combines old time fiddle, Appalachian banjo, guitar, dance and song in a storytelling format to tell the story of life in rural Appalachia and life on the roads of America via the music of our country. He is an accomplished and dynamic fiddler who has taught himself to fiddle and clog at the same time—a real treat to see! Audience participation and occasional guest performers figure strongly in his shows and children won’t let themselves be left out of the fun!
Dan is a native southern Appalachian style fiddler though his playing today relates the many traditions he has been exposed to over his lifetime. A part of his show is telling the story of each of his fiddles and their respective tunings. Double stops, special effects, and exquisite bowing round out his style and make him an exciting visual as well as listening experience. In 2001, Dan went contesting a little in his home state of Ohio and won the Old Time Fiddle contest in Coshocton and took second place at the Caesar’s Creek Old Time Music Festival. He has since won awards in his adoptive state of Arizona including the Ajo Fiddle Contest Grand Championship. He teaches pre-beginner to performance level fiddlers at workshops, festivals, and camps, and has students all across the country as well as around the world.
Dan combines superb musicianship with the ability to teach what he knows in a way folks can understand and apply to their own playing. His fiddles were built by award-winning American fiddle builders, Clifford Hardesty of Coshocton, Ohio and Elon Howe of Newego, Michigan. Dan’s relationship with these fine gentlemen is also part of his story and both men continue to maintain Dan’s fiddles in top playing condition.
Dan Levenson has been voted one of the country’s top ten clawhammer banjo players by Banjo Newsletter readers. He is well known as the banjo player for the Boiled Buzzard Stringband and fiddler and banjo player in the Dan Levenson Trio Squirrelly Dan and The Cat Mountain Rounders. Dan has traveled inside and outside the country playing and teaching for many years. He teaches the full range of levels from the outright beginner to performance level.
He is the originator, owner and presenter of Meet the Banjo ™, a 3 hour hands-on workshop where he brings the banjos! This class teaches history of the instrument and introduces both bluegrass and clawhammer styles. His beginner’s video/DVD series and class is entitled Clawhammer Banjo From Scratch: A Guide for the Clawless is the first new old time clawhammer banjo instruction manual in over 20 years and is a Mel Bay Publication as is his prior tab book Buzzard Banjo Clawhammer Style. Dan is an endorsee for the Deering Banjo Co., OME Banjos, Cedar Mountain Banjos and Lee Banjos as well as for Taylor Guitar, Elixir Strings, The Colorado Case Co. and the Stewart MacDonald Co. His tenth recording, Bare Naked Banjos, is a solo banjo album that has received exceptional revues from Bluegrass Unlimited and Sing Out! magazines as well as a great deal of interest and play time by traditional music radio stations in the United States and abroad. He even finds time to write for Banjo Newsletter, THE publication dedicated to the Five String Banjo.
Today Dan is a sought after performer and workshop leader who is becoming known for his workshops in Appalachian banjo and fiddle styles including his innovative Meet the Banjo ™ workshops where he brings the banjos! Banjo Newsletter’s R.D. Lunceford describes Dan “as an interpreter, rather than a music re-creator”. Fiddler Magazine’s Bob Buckingham describes him as “an accomplished fiddler and ...one of the best clawhammer banjo players in the country.”
Voted one of the top 10 clawhammer players by Banjo Newsletter readers, Bluegrass Unlimited calls his playing “melodic, meticulous and uncluttered.”