West Virginia’s premier mountain string band, Gandydancer, features five respected musicians with almost 200 years of combined music experience, the group delivers traditional mountain music to listeners in a way they appreciate and remember. They delight in sharing with and often introducing audiences to this captivating form of acoustic music.
Each of the members is a champion multi-instrumentalist. They all have known one another and played together in different combinations for over 20 years.
Dave Bing of Harmony, West Virginia is a woodworker and violin-maker who is a widely respected teacher of traditional music at home and abroad, including for the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, WV, at Allegheny Echoes, and in recent years at Common Ground on the Hill in Westminster, MD. His playing and teaching draws on West Virginia fiddle styles with a focus on applying bowing patterns for different dynamics. An influential figure in the state’s traditional music community, Dave has spent years tracking down the music of older musicians from central West Virginia. His crooked fiddle tunes evoke another time and place. Dave has played fiddle and banjo for over 30 years. A founding member, along with brothers Mike and Tim of the Bing Brothers, an old time string band that reached near legendary status in West Virginia, he is also a founding member of Gandydancer. Bing has made several solo recordings. Bing plays a wide variety of West Virginia music, from the Hammons Family to more recent styles.
Gerry Milnes of Elkins, West Virginia works at the Augusta Heritage Center. He has researched folklore and traditional music in West Virginia, authored books and produced recordings of traditional music and documentary films. He has collected, performed, and taught West Virginia music for 30 years.
Jim Martin of St. Albans, West Virginia is an accomplished bass player and sings bass on the band’s quartet numbers. Jim’s recording label, JMP, has produced West Virginia’s finest acoustic music over the past 20 years.
Ron Mullenex of Bluefield, Virginia is a geologist by day with a life-long passion for old-time music. He plays claw hammer banjo and mandolin in the band and is an experienced teacher of the old-time music.
Mark Payne of Winfield, West Virginia is sought out for his rock solid guitar work and three-finger style banjo playing. He has recorded with Mountain State masters like Woody Simmons, Wilson Douglas, Elmer Bird, and Bobby Taylor. Mark is the program director for the West Virginia Humanities Council.
Through the years music has drawn them together in spite of professional schedules and demands. The band uses a fresh assortment of instrumental and vocal combinations that audiences find appealing. A cappella vocal harmonies, old-time fiddle and banjo tunes, seldom heard West Virginia folk songs, traditional bluegrass, new combinations, poignant ballads, and driving instrumental numbers are all presented masterfully. Several songs are performed exclusively by Gandydancer; in many cases, as they were learned firsthand from older artists now gone. These guys know how to make mountain music. They strive to pull the most music out of each song they play. The result is a distinctively honest and strikingly musical sound.