On Stage (Extra): Andy T Band overcomes to play the blues

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By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times

Andy T Band

Blues will be in the spotlight when Andy Talamantez and Michael A. Benjamin headline a show at the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) on July 9.

Blues fans may not recognize this act until they realize the act’s stage name is The Andy T Band featuring Alabama Mike.

Andy T, a veteran Nashville guitarist, and Alabama Mike, a powerful San Francisco Bay area singer, are touring in support of their new album “Double Strike.”

The album features Alabama Mike on half of the songs and special guest Nick Nixon singing on the additional vocal tracks. Nixon left the group in 2016 due to health issues. The album also features “Double Strike” co-producer and guest guitarist Anson Funderburgh.

Funderburgh will be playing in the band on its 2017 summer tour along with Larry van Loon (piano/Hammond B-3), Mike Flanagin (Hammond B-3), Johnny Bradley (string bass/electric bass), Jim Klingler (drums) and the Texas Horns: Kaz Kazanof (tenor sax), John Mills (bari sax) and Al Gomez (trumpet).

“This band has been together in two different forms – the first with Nick Nixon and the second with Alabama Mike,” said Andy T, during a recent phone interview from his home in Franklinton, Tennessee.

“I started a solo album back in 2007 with Anson Funderburgh producing. Originally, I thought I was going to sing on it. Then, I realized my singing wasn’t the right quality. Different things outside the music came up so the project sat.

“In 2010, I went to King Biscuit and talked with Anson. He said – And, I know someone in Nashville that can finish the record – Nick Nixon.

“I knew Nick. I said to him – Nick, would you like to help me finish the album? He said ‘O.K.’ I was thrilled to death. I had my singer.”

The result was the “Drink, Drank, Drunk” album.

“I made the album in 2013,” said Andy T. “We had already started touring in 2012. We kept playing together until 2016 when Nick had a stroke.”

Andy T and his band also released the “Livin’ It Up” album in 2014 and the “Numbers Man” album in 2015.

“We started recording ‘Double Strike’ in February 2016 at Wire Recording Studio in Austin and finished it in May,” said Andy T. “We had Nick doing his vocals and overdubs. He had some terrific performances and some not that right.

“Health issues limited what he could do. We planned to take him back in the studio after the summer tour. But, he had an aneurism. After the operation, it caused a stroke.”

With Nixon unavailable, Alabama Mike stepped up to the plate.

“Mike really brings a different thing to the band,” said Andy T. “Nick was on a stool when he sang while Mike isn’t hindered at all. He’s really a showman. Mike really gets the crowd going.”

Andy T has been into the blues for a long time.

“I started playing guitar when I was 15,” said Andy T, who grew up in Santa Monica, California.

“The very first music I heard that made my ears stand up was Eric Clapton. I saw Cream play on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and that pretty much did it.

“The music that really influenced me early on was Clapton, Chuck Berry, and Rory Gallagher. And, one of my favorite records was B.B. King’s ‘Live at the Regal.’ It was all the blues.”

After performing part-time while he worked in the aerospace industry for 23 years, Andy T took the full-time music plunge in 1997.

His first several years as a touring musician included two years with Smokey Wilson and five years with Guitar Shorty. A major turning point in his career was when he hooked up with Funderburgh.

“I respect Anson as much or more than any musician I’ve ever known,” said Andy T. “He has a certain sense about what he wants to hear. As long as Anson can do it, we’ll keep working with him.”

A native of Plano, Texas, Anson Funderburgh led his band, the Rockets, from 1978-2006. The group released more than a dozen albums via the Hepcat, Black Top and Bullseye Blues labels. For 20 years, the Rockets featured blind blues singer Sam Myers.

After Myers’ death in 2006, Funderburgh took a seven-year hiatus to spend time with his family. He returned to performing in 2011, reforming the Rockets and appearing with the Eric Lindell Band. In 2012, Funderburgh began touring with the Golden State/Lone Star Blues Revue (also featuring Mark Hummel). His credits also include Delbert McClinton, Boz Scaggs, Snooks Eaglin, Grady Gaines, Earl King and Jimmy Buffett.

Video link for the Andy T Band — https://youtu.be/ZXPU1RiyDRY.

The show at Sellersville, which also features Anson Funderburgh, will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $19.50 and $29.50.

Mother Mother

It’s been more than a decade since Mother Mother released its debut album “Touch Up.” In February, the Canadian indie-pop band released its sixth album “No Culture.”

Now, Mother Mother – Ryan Guldemond, Molly Guldemond, Jasmin Parkin, Ali Siadat — is touring in support of its new album – a tour that touches down in the area on July 9 with a show at The Foundry (1100 Canal Street, Philadelphia, 215-309-0150, www.thefillmorephilly.com).

Three months before heading to the studio to begin writing the new album, Ryan Guldemond put down a long habit of self-medicating with drugs and alcohol.

After a few months of sobriety, the honeymoon wore off and he fell into a depression. A debilitating period of writer’s block ensued, which inspired the first single “Love Stuck” and material for the band’s new album.

“I wrote the songs in 2015,” said Ryan Guldemond during a phone interview last week from his home in Vancouver.

“I had just unlatched from debauchery and drugs and alcohol. I wrote this album in a new skin. It was much more aware and heady.

“Creativity blooms when you’re not in your left brain analytic voice. Being so awake took some getting used to. Making music is always purging something inside that needs to get out.”

Guldemond opened up and let it flow.

“I had 25 songs that I had to whittle down,” said Guldemond. “It’s almost a concept album. It’s about finding your own truth and speaking to these things that help and those things that hinder. It’s all about saying these things in a proper way. I didn’t want it too spelled out.”

The band began in Heriot Bay in January 2005, when guitarist and vocalist Ryan Guldemond was at music school and wanted to start a band based on vocal-driven pop songs.

He recruited his sister Molly along with a friend from college, Debra-Jean Creelman, to accompany his own vocals for the songs he had written, and the trio played as an acoustic act before adding a rhythm section.

“The band formation was originally my talent – playing a piano as a child,” said Guldemond. “At first, my sister was as reluctant as hell. I said to her – give it a shot and see what happens. And, it turned into something with legs.”

Mother Mother recorded “No Culture” at a highly-respected studio in Vancouver called The Warehouse.

“The Warehouse is Bryan Adams’ studio,” said Guldemond. “It’s got tons of great analog gear – definitely a quintessential recording studio from yesteryear.

“When we were recording there, there was a certain amount we did inside the box. Once that was in place, we took advantage of all the analog gear. Most of the demos were done previously at a home studio on a little island in B.C. called Quadra Island.”

Video link for Mother Mother – https://youtu.be/xUPhK1y27AY.

The show at the Foundry, which has Blame Candy as the opener, will start at 8 p.m.

The Skints

The Skints, who are headlining a show on July 12 at Coda (1712 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, http://codaphilly.com), have been described as the torchbearers for modern British reggae music.

The band — Jon Doyle – Bass; Jamie Kyriakides- Drums/Vocals; Josh Waters Rudge – Guitar/Vocals; Marcia Richards- Keys/Sax/Flute/Melodica/Samples/Vocals — has a music style that incorporates reggae, ska, rock ,dub, chiptune, punk rock, dancehall, soul, grime and hip hop

The most recent album by the London-based band was “FM,” which came out in 2015 on Easy Star Records.

“I guess we’re at the end of the ‘FM’ cycle,” said Rudge, during a phone interview last week from a tour stop in Lincoln, Nebraska.

“It’s been a really good run with that record. We did three music videos and we’re toured all over – a lot.”

Prior to the current tour, The Skints released a cover of the Reverend Al Green’s classic  “Let’s Stay Together” as a dubbed-out duet. The single’s video is a bootlegged vintage animation cartoon mash-up edited to match the love song.

“We just made ‘Let’s Stay Together’ single and video in the last three months,” said Rudge. “It was time for something fresh.

“Next is a new album. We already started making some primitive acoustic-level songs. Our songwriting has no set formula. At this point, it really depends on the song. Our plan now is to get busy when we get home at the end of the summer.

Home for The Skints is Northeast London.

“We were all born and raised in London,” said Rudge. “We all went to the same high school. It’s one of the purest ways to start a band.

“Our music tastes are a real mix. We’re all into reggae – also punk, jungle, and hip hop. It’s always been more than just the reggae/ska influence.

“Our first album ‘Live, Breathe, Build, Believe’ was more punk rock – punk meets reggae. We recorded it in five days for $1,000 and it was pretty raw. It documented that time of the band’s history.

“The second album ‘Part and Parcel’ was made after we had done a lot of touring. By that time, we were better players and singers. We have three singers and all of us write.

“With ‘FM,’ a lot of it was written while we were recording the album. We did it over the course of a summer. We cut in Brighton at a studio owned by Prince Fatty, who is just the best producer of reggae in the U.K.

“For these shows in America, we’re playing songs from all our records and also ‘Let’s Stay Together.’ It’s a pretty good set we play.”

Video link for The Skints – https://youtu.be/OJd6HHjrcFU.

The show at Coda, which has Suburban Sensi as the opener, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12.

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