Article by: Angela Suico | Photo Credits: Melissa Madison Fuller (main), Tina VonHagel (live) | Posted: 04/23/2012
Take a country songwriter out of Texas, plant him down in Nashville, and what do you get? Well, a lot of different artists, actually: Willie Nelson, Roger Miller, and Harlan Howard, to name a few. Nowadays there’s also Andrew Combs, a country crooner who sought to emulate these men by making Music City his home. “I was kind of obsessed with the songwriters that first went to Nashville,” says Combs. “So I went there in search of that. Basically all my favorite songwriters are from Texas originally but a lot of them passed through Nashville.”
According to Combs, it is these songwriters’ distinctive brand of story-telling that leads audiences, both Southern and otherwise, to embrace his music. “People tell stories better in the South and down in Texas,” he asserts, “so I think they [non-Southerners] appreciate that. I've had pretty good reception in the Midwest and up North and stuff. I feel like people…at least recently, have really picked up on...country, and they're starting to think of it as not just 'Country [equals] red-neck people.'" What does Combs think accounts for this shift in society’s perception of country music? He admits he isn’t sure, but he hypothesizes that O Brother Where Art Thou, the 2000 Coen brothers film whose soundtrack featured country, folk, and Appalachian music, may have had something to do with it.
Unsurprisingly, when asked whether artists like Lady Antebellum are a good introduction to the genre, Combs says he considers the band more of a country-pop outfit, though he concedes that “music is so opinion-based I can’t really tell someone, ‘This isn’t the right way to listen to country music.’” Combs’ personal preference for country is what he refers to as the “old stuff:” John Hartford, Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, etc. But in keeping with his blend of Texas and Tennessee, he also names Caitlin Rose and “a lot of cool Nashville people” as artists he’s currently listening to, as well as mentioning his current tour mates, Virginia native Jonny Corndawg (who also has ties to Nashville), and the South Carolina band Shovels and Rope.
Combs says that his experience performing with the two artists has not involved too many wacky touring hijinks. “Every night’s a little bit crazy, depending on how much alcohol is consumed,” he says half-jokingly, “but we’ve been pretty tame this tour.” His last stop will be at The Basement on May 11th, where he will celebrate the release of his EP Big Bad Love, featuring the wonderfully gritty single of the same name and the woe-ridden “Take It From Me.”
In addition to making the EP available via the standard digital format, Combs also plans to release a number of 7” editions of Big Bad Love. His description of vinyl as a “cool thing” and a “cool medium” is completely fitting for an artist with a deep reverence for country’s musical heritage. Combs’ approach to his music is clearly a callback to the past, and where society may attempt to recreate what is old school, with its vintage-inspired fashion and old records used as wall decorations, Andrew Combs actually embodies it.
Andrew Combs - "Heavy, (Live at The Basement)"