Alex Hand is a premier guitarist on the Texas scene, regularly performing with jazz, Celtic traditional, classic rock and gypsy swing groups. He graduated from the University of North Texas jazz performance program with a masters in 2021 and continues to perform and teach music in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. He studied traditional Balkan music in Bulgaria and Turkey in 2015 and released two self-produced albums of that music with San Francisco jazz players. The second one, The Fast Crusade (2019), won two silver medals in the Global Music Awards in 2023: instrumentalist and concept. Hand’s third album, All Hands Up (2023) features five original tunes and one wild, spooky take on the classic American song, “St. James Infirmary.”
As a composer, he blends jazz improvisation and harmony with two decades of experience with various European folk styles and his love for baroque and romantic-era composers like Couperin, Debussy and Chopin. Alex made his television debut as an on-screen guitarist and recorded original arrangements for the soundtrack to 1883, a prequel to the Yellowstone series in 2021. He later composed and played banjo and guitar on the soundtrack to another installment in the same series, Lawmen: Bass Reeves.
A guitarist since eleven years old, Alex Hand grew up in Reno and received a bachelor's of music in jazz performance from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. While in school he played with fiddler Charlene Adzima in an Irish trad group called Wyndel and co-led progressive rock band, Flamingo Matrix. He developed a passion for the guitar tradition of Django Reinhardt and began studying gypsy swing, including a workshop with Gonzalo Bergara.
After UNR, he toured the west coast with a world beat rock group called Tim Snider and Sound Society (previously Sol Jibe) before moving to Portland, OR. In the spring of 2012 he toured across the US for two months with a Portland ensemble that played gypsy swing, klezmer and Eastern European music. He moved to San Francisco the following year and spent six years as a regular performer in the gypsy jazz and Eastern European music scenes.
In 2014 Alex became the touring guitarist for Los Angeles swing singer Jessica Fichot, doing three tours nationally and performing at the Midwest Gypsy Swing Fest in Madison, WI and the Francofolies festival in Montreal, Canada. During this time he met members of the then-disbanded Fishtank Ensemble and started a group called Gonzo Lautari which released one album. The Alex Hand Band did its first two tours on the west coast in 2014-15 as an acoustic quartet with Jordan Keach on bass and Conrad Seeto on rhythm guitar, alternating second soloists between David Boyden on violin and Anthony Donatelli on clarinet. Gettin Cattywampus with the Alex Hand Band was an EP recorded on the second tour in Portland, OR and is available on Bandcamp.
Alex was hired to play in the house dance band for the now defunct Mendocino Folklore Camp, studied with Bulgarian sax legend Yuri Yunakov, and attended the EEFC's West Coast Balkan Music and Dance Workshop several years. In 2015 he flew to Istanbul, Turkey with a dozen Bay Area musicians and dancers to perform concerts of rumba/flamenco/Balkan fusion and study traditional Eastern European music. That band became Istanbul Connection, which performed at the Great American Music Hall in SF the following year. During the trip to Europe, he studied tambura and traditional folk music in Bulgaria at the Academy of Music and Fine Arts in Plovdiv and with guitar virtuoso Zlatko Burov of Balkan Guitar Stars in Pleven. Back in the Bay, Alex led his own group in the Balkan direction and was regularly performing at the monthly Berkeley Balkan Bacchanal and at Red Poppy Art House.
Alex and David Boyden had been playing Celtic, Scandinavian and old time American tunes with a trio called Kaptain Bottletop, which was described by fans as Appalacian Gothic and featured David and Lee Corbie-Wells on 10-string modified Norwegian hardanger fiddles and Alex on acoustic guitar. They released The Calm in the Lindens in 2018.
The same year, the Alex Hand Band released its first album, Traders of the Lost Arts, featuring a mix of Bulgarian, Romanian, Serbian and Romani tunes arranged for an acoustic-electric instrumental fusion ensemble featuring guitar, cello, drumset, violin, saxophone, keyboard and more. 2019 saw the release of AHB's followup, The Fast Crusade, which included many of the same genres but more original material.
In the summer of 2019 Alex moved to the Dallas, TX area to pursue a masters degree at the University of North Texas in jazz guitar performance. He was on faculty at UNT as a teacher's assistant for Dr. Jonathan (Capital) Patterson's classes on Logic and recording technology and played in the Latin Jazz Ensemble for two semesters before graduating in December 2021. The same month he made his television debut on the TV drama 1883 (a Yellowstone prequel) in episode 2 as an immigrant gypsy guitarist playing with a group next to the fire.
Alex is currently teaching privately and performing with a variety of bands and jazz groups around the Dallas area, including the weekly Irish trad session at The Celt Irish Pub in McKinney and with rock/pop cover bands. He performed with KeyReel Raskolenko at the Fort Worth Art Fair in April 2022 and is a regular performer at Sundance Square. He is working on his third album of all original material which is aimed to release in 2022.
With the Alex Hand Band:
-Gettin' Cattywampus with the Alex Hand Band (2015)
-Traders of the Lost Arts (2018)
-The Fast Crusade (2019)
-All Hands Up (2023)
With Kaptain Bottletop:
-The Calm in the Lindens (2018)
With Chris Trinidad:
-Chris Trinidad's Chant Triptych II (2020)
-Changing Tides (2021)
With Simeon Davis Group
-Of Narratives and Nocturnes (2022)
With the UNR Jazz Student Recordings
-Time and Place (2010)