|HILLBILLIES FROM MARS||
keyboards, flute, percussion
Daniel's musical history started with his father who, in the 1940's, was a pianist, big band leader, and musical arranger, until family obligations and World War II necessitated a change to a more respectable, and lucrative, profession. Nonetheless, the popular songs of the 30's and 40's, as well as the piano sonatas of Gershwin and a wide range of classical composers, were always heard in the house as he was growing up. Daniel began piano lessons at the age of six and took up the flute two years later. Shortly thereafter, his piano teacher died (presumably not because of his terrible practice habits) and he studied classical flute throughout his teens, putting his training to good use by playing in a couple of rock bands in high school.
In 1974, Daniel moved to Eugene, Oregon, where he further developed his improvisational skills, playing in many musical genres with various local musicians, including a few who were learning traditional fiddle music. He also landed a job as a baker at a collective restaurant called Mama's Homefried Truckstop, at which he made a lot of dough, but wasn't paid much.
Moving back east in 1975 to go to college, he began learning Appalachian old-time fiddle music (on the flute) at Maurice's Sunday sessions in Cambridge, Mass., along with many other beginning musicians who have since become well-known in the traditional music and dance scene. After two years, when busking in Harvard Square began to occupy more time than his studies, he dropped out and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he still resides.
Daniel's repertoire of traditional music was nourished and broadened in the basement of the San Francisco Folk Music Club and at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, where he went from gate-crasher to featured faculty over the course of ten years. During that time, he developed his unique approach to piano accompaniment for fiddle music, and has since appeared in concert with many luminaries of the traditional music scene, including Joe Cormier, Lisa Ornstein, Rodney Miller, Jerry Holland, Pete Sutherland, Bertram Levy, Frank Ferrel, Cathie Whitesides, and Mark Simos.
He began playing for contradances in the Bay Area in 1979 and, with Paul Kotapish and Kevin Carr, founded the Hillbillies from Mars in 1982. In 1981 and 1983 Daniel travelled to France, bringing back a vielle a roue (french hurdy-gurdy) as well as an interest in French traditional music and dance, which has become a significant part of the Hillbillies' repertoire. A trip to Zimbabwe in 1990 fueled his interest in African music and he played synthesizer with Bay Area afro-pop bands Bole Bantu and Wazobia over the next several years. In the 2000s, Daniel began studying and performing Latin American repertoire on flute, playing the music of Venezuela and Brazil with Tierra Vieja, and Cuban charanga and danzón with the quartet El Tren. In 2016, he recorded an album of traditional Basque music with Ospa.
Inspired by a gospel choir workshop he attended in 1995, Daniel began to teach choral arrangements at dance and music festivals. The response to his workshops was extraordinary, and in 1999, he founded an ongoing community choir, the World Harmony Chorus, under the auspices of the Community School of Music and Arts in Mountain View, CA and the non-profit corporation he started, Instant Harmony. Drawing on vocal repertoire from all over the world, he works with vocalists at all levels of ability and experience to create music that is fun and exhilarating both to sing and to hear. He currently holds chorus rehearsals in Mountain View and Santa Cruz, with a branch chorus in Oakland, and new members are always welcome.
Daniel has appeared at music and dance festivals throughout the United States, and has been an instructor at the Augusta Heritage Festival, Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, Lark in the Morning, Pinewoods Music and Dance Camp, the Swannanoah Gathering, Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp, and the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes. He has performed abroad in the former Soviet Union and at the Shetland Isles Folk Festival.
In addition to performing contra, square, and swing dance music, Daniel gives private lessons on the flute and piano, and teaches french dance, body rhythm, and choir workshops at music and dance festivals around the country. He was the Program Director for eight very successful years of "Sierra Swing", a summer dance week, and was co-host of What's for Dinner? a radio talk show concerned with food and cooking. Daniel lives in Santa Cruz CA, where he hosts an ongoing series of acoustic music concerts at his home.Contact: Daniel@HillbilliesFromMars.com (650) 517-3972
Musical Influences:Paul Simon, Randy Newman, Mose Allison, Al Jolson, George Gershwin, Pentangle, Steeleye Span, Loggins & Messina, Yes ('Fragile'), Jim Kweskin, Dan Hicks, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Jefferson Airplane, Steel Pulse, Ruben Blades, David Byrne, Jan Johansson, Dewey Balfa, La Bottine Souriante, Keith Terry, Terence Kelly, and a whole lot of French, African, Cuban, and South American music.
Album Credits:Hillbillies from Mars (HFM CD1301)
Rodney Miller Band: Greasy Coat (Sage Arts 1301)
Ospa: Hori da (Worlds of Music)
Mark Simos: Race the River Jordan (Yodel-Ay-Hee CD017)
Laurie Lewis & Tom Rozum: The Oak and the Laurel (Rounder CD0340)
[1996 Grammy nominee]
Cathie Whitesides: Home Town Cafe (Avocet 104)
Faith Petric (Bay 216)
as performer and session producer: Swinging on the Gate (BACDS 2001)
Band Credits:Hillbillies from Mars
Tierra Vieja (Venezuelan/Brazilian music)
El Tren (Cuban/Jazz combo)
Rodney Miller Band (contradance music)
Hori da (Basque music)
QuébecQuasi (Quebecois fiddle music)
Bole Bantu (Congolese afropop)
Wazobia (Nigerian afropop)
JaKaDa (traditional jazz/swing)