Featured Artists: Andy Shaw and Mary Shaw

Benicia residents and bluegrass musicians Andy Shaw and Mary Shaw were both born in Atlanta, GA. They are the parents of two college age children.  Andy plays banjo and Mary played bass in The David Thom Band.  Mary recently retired from the band and the couple reflected on their years playing together.

What did you listen to as a teenager?

Andy:  I was listening to top 40 with everybody else—The Eagles, Elton John, The Beatles, Linda Ronstadt…but since I picked up the banjo right about then, I started focusing on Bluegrass and banjo recordings, wearing them out, really.

What do you listen to now?

Andy:  I will listen to a wide variety of music from Opera to Electronica.

What do people say when they find out you play banjo in a bluegrass band?

Andy:  Usually they smile and make some banjo-like sounds while doing their best “air banjo”. Of course, they often bring up that movie with the hillbillies and the wayward canoe enthusiasts.

What's the first music you remember hearing?

Mary:  “Knick-knack patty-whack” in nursery school (This Old Man). Also my Dad used to sing in the car on every trip we took as a family.  “Bicycle Built for Two,” “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean,” “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” “She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain.”

Who influenced your music?

Mary:  Besides everything I’ve ever listened to?  Well, my husband, Andy, of course and most definitely David Thom.

When did you know you wanted to be a musician?

Andy:  I want to go back to a sunny morning in 1964, hearing The Beatles and picking up a block to use as a pretend microphone.

What drew you to the banjo?

Andy:  Before the movie, Deliverance, came out I had heard exactly 2 banjo performances: The theme to The Beverly Hillbillies and Foggy Mountain Breakdown which is the song that is played over and over in the movie, Bonnie and Clyde. Dueling Banjos, which is featured within the first 5 or 10 minutes of the beginning of Deliverance was super exciting to me.

What is Bluegrass music?

Mary:  Bluegrass is true Americana. Roots Music.  It originated from immigrants who settled in Appalachia–from traditional Irish, Scottish, and English music mixed with African American blues. Bill Monroe, the “Father of Bluegrass”, captured that regional music, put his own stamp on it and re-invented it as a genre.

Mary, you recently retired from the band because of time constraints, what were the challenges of being a wife, a mother, a working person and a bass player in a bluegrass band?

Mary:  With all that going on, you learn how to manage your time well. It could get pretty crazy sometimes. At this point, I’ve mostly gotten the hang of being a wife and mother.  Andy is an awesome guy and my anchor. I’m fortunate to be married to him. Plus it’s been a blast performing with him. Being able to share music that way is pretty special.

How did you and Andy meet? 

Mary:  We went out to a bar with other co-workers a few times and talked about stuff we both liked. There seemed to be a lot to talk about. It morphed into a 29 year relationship.  It’s been a mighty fine time.

Andy:  Mary and I were both working at the same department store in Atlanta and were lucky enough to end up talking about movies one evening while out with a bunch of coworkers at a bar. We left the people at the bar to go see a movie and the rest is history.

What was your happiest moment playing with Mary?

Andy:  Just sharing all those moments has been a priceless part of our relationship.

Mary, now that you’re not playing bass with your husband in The David Thom Band, what are you two going to do for “together” time?

Mary:  We still play music together. We share books and go on walks. We garden and cook together.  We are hoping to do some bike riding together.



Holiday Music Calendar

Keb’ Mo’ Spirit Of The Holidays
Uptown Theatre, Napa
Wednesday, November 30, 8pm

Cantare Chorale
Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church,
Walnut Creek
Saturday, December 3, 7:30pm

Le Jazz Hot
Herbst Theatre, San Francisco
Sunday, December 4, 11am

Terry Disley Experience
Perform “The Jazz Nutcracker”
Yoshi’s, Oakland
Monday, December 5, 8pm

San Francisco Boy Chorus: Noel, Noel, Noel
St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, San Francisco
Saturday, December 10 2pm

Handel’s Messiah: Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley
Saturday, December 10, 7pm

A Chanticleer Christmas
Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland
Saturday, December 10, 8:15pm

Oakland Symphony: Let Us Break Bread Together
Paramount Theatre, Oakland
Sunday, December 11, 4pm

Vallejo Choral Society
Holiday Celebrations: Journey Through Time
First Presbyterian Church, Vallejo
Sunday, December 11, 4pm

Christmas Jug Band
Freight & Salvage, Berkeley
Wednesday, December 14, 8pm

Blind Boys of Alabama Christmas Show
Jackson Hall, Davis
Thursday, December 15, 8pm

Windham Hill Winter Solstice
Napa Valley Opera House, Napa
Friday, December 16, 8pm

Nicolas Bearde
5th Annual Holiday Jazz and Blues concert
Piedmont Piano Company, Oakland
Friday, December 16, 8pm,

A Cash Country Christmas
James Garner’s Holiday Tribute to Johnny Cash
Firehouse Arts, Pleasanton
Saturday, December 17, 8pm,

Solano Community Symphony
Presents A Holiday Celebration
Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre, Vacaville
Sunday, December 18, 3pm

The Junius Courtney Big Band with Denise Perrier
Home for the Holidays, Yoshi’s, Oakland
Tuesday, December 20, 8pm and 10pm

The Eddie Neon Christmas Blues Band
George’s, San Rafael
Friday, December 23, 9pm

Restless Heart Christmas
Bankhead Theatre, Livermore
Friday, December 23, 8 pm

Ongoing Live Music

The Rellik Tavern
therelliktavern.com 707.746.1137
Live music every Friday & Saturday night

Upstairs at the Café
firststreetcafe.com 707.745.1400
Live music Thursday, Friday & Saturday night
Jazz Sunday afternoon

Sticky Rice Chinese Bistro & Bar, Fairfield
stickyricebistro.com 707.863.7500
Live music every Saturday night

Favela’s Fusion, Fairfield
favelasfusion.com 707.421.8484
Live mariachi music the first Friday of the month

Special Events

New West Guitar Group
142 Throckmorton, Mill Valley
Friday, December 2, 8pm

Left Coast Chamber Ensemble
Crowden Music Center, Berkeley
Sunday, December 4, 4pm

Kenny Werner Quintet
Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society
El Granada, CA
Sunday, December 4, 4:30pm

Don Edwards
Bankhead Theatre, Livermore
Tuesday, December 6, 7:30 pm

Hopmonk Tavern, Sebastopol
Friday, December 9, 8pm

Larry Vuckovich
Piedmont Piano Company, Oakland
Friday, December 9, 8pm

The Unauthorized Rolling Stones
Silo’s, Napa
Saturday, December 10, 8pm

Salvador Santana
George’s Nightclub, San Rafael
Saturday, December 10, 9 pm

The Duke Ellington Orchestra
Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco
Sunday, December 11, 8pm

Kid Anderson Band
Club Fox, Redwood City
Wednesday Night Blues Jam, December 14, 7pm

American Bach Soloists
Jackson Hall, Davis
Sunday, December 18, 4pm

The Jim Campilongo Trio
Yoshi’s, San Francisco
Sunday, December 18, 8pm

Antsy McClain & The Trailer Park Troubadours
Freight & Salvage, Berkeley
Wednesday, December 28, 8pm

Tommy Castro
Mystic Theatre, Petaluma
Saturday, December 31, 9pm