Peter Davis’s parents told him that when he was one year old they would listen to operas on their hi-fi and Peter would hum arias, in tune from Rigoletto. When he was five, Peter took piano lessons with an acclaimed teacher, but after six months he was fired as a student because he was playing the pieces by ear instead of reading notes. At eight, Peter finally connected with his private clarinet teacher, and continued five years of lessons, culminating in playing the Mozart clarinet concerto. It was then that he was handed a saxophone in 8th grade band class and was introduced to the 12 bar blues progression and Elvis Presley. In 9th grade, Peter was playing rock and roll music with older kids in bars around Babylon, Long Island. His dad bought him a Selmer saxophone and a Gibson guitar and gave him guitar lessons– chord/melody stylings of standards.
His parents didn’t dig that bar rock and roll influence and in 10th grade, Peter was sent to Quaker boarding school where he was exposed to political activism and folk music and listened a lot to Bach, Thelonius Monk, Mississippi John Hurt and Earl Scruggs. At SUNY Binghamton Peter minored in music – played in a jug and bluegrass band, had one of his music theory classes taught by John Cage – acted in plays, sang in a doo wop and madrigal groups and played reeds in pit bands for musicals.
Peter spent three years in Malawi, Central Africa where he directed his school’s a capella group and jammed South African zulu jive with some of his students. Peter resides in Saratoga Springs, New York with his amazingly musician tolerant wife Beverly. Peter plays with at least seven bands and is the program director for the Flurry Festival and for Saratoga Racecourse.
Peter’s multi instrumentalism includes clarinet, alto sax, 5-string & tenor banjo, piano, guitar, mandolin and whistle as well as an intuitive approach to a variety of musical genres including traditional folk, blues, vintage pop and jazz forms.
Peter’s projects include the Whippersnappers, an eclectic string band, vintage swing band Annie and the Hedonists, Reggie’s Red Hot Feetwarmers, a dixieland jazz band, which is the house band at Saratoga Racecourse each summer and, in 2011 played 6 nights a week in Shanghai, China for 3 months, Peter, Paul, and George, a group that does elementary school residencies in traditional music and dancing, Lindy Hop Heaven, Peter’s own swing dance band and The Clayfoot Strutters, a rocked-out contradance band from Vermont. He also performs as part of Jay Ungar and Molly Mason’s band, for their monthly radio program, “Dancing on the Air” and for festivals and concerts. He appears on Jay and Molly’s CDs including “the Lover’s Waltz” and “Relax Your Mind” and played with them on many productions of “A Prairie Home Companion” in the 1990s. In the 1980s, Peter was part of the back-up band for John Phillips and the “Mamas and Papas” with whom he did some international touring.