American Songwriter magazine calls Nashville-based musician Andrew Leahey “Country rock done proud with just enough Gram Parsons influence to provide the honky tonk cosmic American vibe but not too much to make Leahey just another Flying Burrito Brothers super fan.” With a dusty, rootsy vibe, Leahey reflects the old school Americana before it became cool. He is playing the Rock and Roll Hotel this Friday, and he joined us for our 5GB series.
What was the first gig you ever went to?
First gig you ever went to? I attended a Raffi concert sometime during my single-digit years, but it wasn’t a very rock & roll experience and I think I fell asleep after he played “Baby Beluga.” My first “real” concert was a few years later, at the State Fairgrounds in Richmond, VA. It was an all-day rock festival called “Buzzfest,” with Garbage as the headliner and a few lesser-known alternative bands as the openers… including, if I remember correctly, a pre-fame Moby. I was 14, and I remember wandering the Fairgrounds with my middle-school friends, watching most of the performances and buying a ton of food from the vendors. I ate something called “Chicken in a sack” and felt very, very sick for the rest of the afternoon. I’m now a vegetarian.
What is the best gig that you ever played/performed at?
Best gig you played/performed at? When I lived in New York City, I auditioned for the Juilliard Choral Union and wound up performing with the group all over the city, including venues like Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. Singing at Carnegie Hall is hard to beat, whether you’re doing alt.country songs or classical masterworks. As far as the Homestead goes, though, our best show was at a house party in Dupont Circle, where we packed 95 people into the living room and played our debut album in its entirety. It was the first time I saw people in the audience singing along to most of the words.
What is the best gig you have ever been to?
Best gig you went to? That’s a tough question. I met my wife at a Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers show in Fall 2005, so I suppose that particular gig takes the trophy. If I could choose a second gig, it would be a toss-up between U2 in East Lansing, Ray LaMontagne in Detroit, and a very young Fountains of Wayne opening for the Smashing Pumpkins in 1997.
Gig you would most like to play?
Gig you’d most like to play? I’ve been to every Bonnaroo since 2005, and some of my friends have been lucky enough to perform at the festival. I’d love to be on that bill sometime. Spending a long weekend in the hot, humid, shadeless Tennessee sun isn’t easy, but the fact that 80,000 people are willing to brave the elements for the sake of seeing some great music… it’s amazing. The crowds are receptive and generous and appreciative. I imagine it would be a great place to play.
Gig you’d like to do with another band? Last year, I became really interested in the Railroad Revival Tour, where Mumford and Sons, Edward Sharpe, and Old Crow Medicine Show all toured together in a mid-century train. I like the idea of three bands traveling together, collaborating together, sharing ideas while shuttling themselves from gig to gig… I suppose we’d have to switch the lineup around to make it more Homestead-appropriate. So… let’s say a train tour featuring Ryan Adams, the Old 97’s, Andrew Leahey & the Homestead, and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. A man can dream, right?
Catch Andrew Leahey at Rock and Roll Hotel, Washington, D.C.