Terry McGrath

Hammered Dulcimer, Clarinet, Whistles, Melodeon, Hang & Composer, Lyricist, Parodist, Vocals

His dad gave him a clarinet. Somehow he got hold of a piano accordion. Two instruments that would scar anyone else for life. But Terry considered these honkers “gateway” instruments, leading to even more dangerous and precarious sounds such as the “wide-nine” harmonica, the “cheesebeard” hammered dulcimer, the “half-step toodle-oo” melodeon, and a flying-saucer looking thing that sounds like it came from outer space, called the “Hang” but pronounced “hand-pan.” See? Terry has something to do with animals, and always seems to be in the middle of a story, whether he’s talking or not.

Previous Outfits: The Greystone Ramblers, The Hang Brothers

Samuel Leibowitz


AST’s newest, Sam brings the strings. We already had lots of “strings,” maybe even too many, but this time, we mean, “one man string section.” His tastes are wide, ranging from Norwegian to Glaswegian, Hoppvals to Strathspeys, Cape Breton to Cape May. As you may have noticed from his portrait on the home-page tacked to the mast of the Auld String Theory Journey-To-The-Center of your mind raft, he likes beer and dogs. His violin has 5-strings, unlike a banjo, which has four and a half, and he pronounces his name SAM-yoo-el LEE-boh-wits.

Previous Outfits: A Bluegrass Band Named Something, and Something Else

Jim Klingler

Guitar, Arrangements & Vocals

Older brother showed him a few chords on an auction bought guitar.  No Turning Back!  Came of age during the early 1960’s Folk Scare and learned everything the Kingston Trio ever did.  Jim discovered Jug Band and dove into that deep hole and has been in it for over 50 years. Sometimes we entice him out by showing him a shiny new chord his brother had nothing to do with.  As you can see in our homepage band photo, his companion Lloyd the Duck sits on his shoulder and quacks “shut up” in his ear when he gets tired and grumpy. Professor Tunaturg.

Previous Outfits: The Philadelphia Jug Band

Andy Andrews

Banjo, Tenor Guitar, Bajo & Composer, Lyrics, Vocals

His little sister gave him a banjo. It was stolen from the back of his ’71 Datsun 510 Hatchback on Canal St. in New York City in 1977. His big sister gave him another banjo. He’s still playing that one. Fond of “Wishnevskys”, which are acoustic-guitarlike instruments made from recycled 19th-Century pianos. Wrote the hit song “Tarzan #19,” which includes this verse: “I’m going to be a man with strength and style, a man who walks a camel for a mile, a man who talks to lions, who has no fear of dyin’, who hasn’t had a haircut for a while.” The ’71 Datsun? Has an honored place in the ’71 Datsun Museum of the Mind. It’s the blue one.

Previous Outfits: The Plywood Cattle Company, The Bala Hounds, The Greystone Ramblers, The Ozone Express, Grandpa’s Pants, The Wallops Scallops, Judge Ito and the Ojays.

Fred Frayer

Mandolin, Fiddle, Uke & Composer, Vocals

If musical endeavors had a term like “dramaturg”, Auld String Theory would have its {put that term here} in Fred. Has a degree that says he actually studied music, though the band doesn’t hold that against him. Got really really good at 5-string banjo, then said, “meh” and subtracted a string, multiplied by two, and now specializes in mandolin, with a sideline in fiddle. His Black Laborador companion and guide Harley is his eyes when travel is in order. His ears speak for themselves.

Previous Outfits: The Greystone Ramblers

Heidi Frayer

Seasonal Chanteuse

Auld String Theory slips several times each year into A Band For All Seasons mode, and Heidi is a key component when this happens. For AST Christmas, she takes the vocal lead for many traditional carols and holiday songs, with her rich, bright voice, capable of mezzo-soprano through contralto ranges. Her peanut brittle is rich and buttery, a lot like her vocal stylings. And then, when Irish Season is on, and the Feast of The Original Snakestretcher (our pet name for St. Patrick) approaches, Heidi blarneys up her ancestral accent and leads us onward across the celtic balladfront.

Bill Russell

Harp, Guitar, Mandolin, Octave Mando, Tin Whistle, Bodhran

Bill Russell climbed aboard the AST raft in early 2018, just in time for our sold-out first Burlap & Bean St. Patty’s gig back in March. He thought it might be funny, as you can see in our cover photo, to tweak Fred by climbing into Heidi’s lap, but Fred wasn’t looking.  However, Harley was keeping one canine eye on things, and barked accordingly. AKA Nautical Bill, a retired Drexel University professor, our very own Billy Budd plays a chunky, precise celtic rhythm guitar, and mandolin-family instruments, whistles & bodhran, and The Beast, AST’s largest and most formidable string-voice, a celtic harp.

Previous Outfits: Slyteofhand, French Toast, Canyon