About Andy

MerleFest, Wilkesboro, NC

Over a career spanning six decades, Andy has earned a reputation as a “troubadour of life,” an “Americana music pioneer,” a “master of traditional American music styles,” and an “upbeat roots rocker.” His deep-rooted music brings together a variety of influences: blues, bluegrass, folk, old-time and contemporary country, and good ol’ rock-and-roll — all delivered with the masterful singing, guitar, and mandolin styles he’s developed over a lifetime as a performer and a student of American music. In his shows, he plays rootsy original songs alongside traditional and classic gems in a winning combination that’s uplifting and fun.

With Acoustic Kids Ambassadors, Gwenyth Aggeler and Payton Blanchard, Copper Guitar Town, CO

Along the way, Andy also trained as a visual artist and earned a BFA in fine arts and arts education; created Acoustic Kids Showcases, a non-competitive mentoring program for young musicians; taught hundreds of students to play guitar or mandolin; and founded Swift River Music, an IBMA award-winning record label and production service. He has released eight CDs as an artist himself featuring his original songs alongside old-time country and traditional tunes. His songs have contributed to critically-acclaimed international TV series, highly successful fundraising drives, and regional documentaries and have charted as high as number two on Americana music industry charts.

Andy May & Kenny Kosek- NY Folklore Center - 1967- Photo by Jack Prelutsky
NY Folklore Center, with Kenny Kosek, NY

Andy started playing music seriously in his teens, immersed in the ‘60s’ folk music revival in New York’s Greenwich Village. Still underage, he soon became a mainstay at the folk and bluegrass venues that didn’t serve alcohol — the Folklore Center, Cooper Union, Columbia University, WBAI-FM, and others — and at informal picking sessions around the city. During that time, he appeared with artists as diverse as Jerry Jeff WalkerPete Seeger, and Janis Ian, making a name for himself as an up-and-coming guitarist, mandolinist, and songwriter. By the time he was 21, he had won a Grand Championship on Guitar at the 1967 Union Grove (NC) Old-Time Fiddlers’ Convention, given his first concert as a songwriter at Izzy Young‘s renowned Folklore Center in New York City, and played Carnegie Hall.

Andy May performing in the Texas Tabby Crabb band
Hartford, CT

After moving to Massachusetts in 1970, Andy spent 17 years as a road musician and band leader, eventually working throughout the Northeast as a soloist and with his own bands, The Andy May – Texas Tabby Crabb Band and Andy May & Atlantic Express. He often played with other artists touring in the region, as well, including Ralph Stanley, John Hartford, John PrineSonny Terry & Brownie Mcghee, and Asleep at the Wheel.

With later moves to Colorado, and Tennessee, Andy developed a national reputation as an upbeat and engaging performer. Many fans look forward to his annual shows and workshops at the Walnut Valley Festival (Winfield, KS) and MerleFest (Wilkesboro, NC) and to his repeat appearances at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

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