Glen David Andrews
Glen David Andrews is on a mission. The trombonist, singer and showman, who hails from an extended family of musicians in New Orleans’ culturally rich Treme neighborhood, introduced himself to a national, and international, audience with the acclaimed 2014 album “Redemption.” Always eager to be more than a hometown hero, he is ready to fully realize that ambition, to build on the platform/pulpit that “Redemption” gave him. “The last few years of investing in myself, I’ve seen the benefits,” he says. “Now it’s time to work to that next level.”
Andrews grew up steps away from the fabled Treme nightspot Joe’s Cozy Corner. From an early age, he reveled in the sounds of second-line parades and church choirs; his cousins populated several New Orleans brass bands. Trouble occasionally found him, and vice versa.
His young cousin Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, now one of the Crescent City’s breakout stars, suggested he pick up a horn. Armed with a trombone, Glen soon found himself gigging with the New Birth and Lil’ Rascals brass bands. His first trip outside Louisiana was to perform with his cousin James Andrews in Zurich, Switzerland. Mentor Anthony “Tuba Fats” Lacen taught him how to entertain tourists outside the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans’ Jackson Square. Along the way, Andrews developed a singing voice that was equal parts Louis Armstrong, Big Joe Turner and Bourbon Street favorite “Big” Al Carson.
In 2008, after he’d appeared at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival with other acts for years, the festival finally booked Andrews under his own name. He’s never looked back. His headlining sets at the festival’s Gospel Tent and Blues Tent have been consensus Jazz Fest highlights – energized, sweaty affairs invigorated by the musical traditions of New Orleans and Andrews’ preacher-caught-up-in-the-spirit charisma.
Recorded in a former church, his “Redemption” album avoided New Orleans standards in favor of original funk, soul, gospel and rock. Andrews’ voice ranged from rugged, Howlin’ Wolf-style blues growls to a soul singer’s sweet falsetto to straight-up gospel testimonials. Reviews heralded the arrival of this major new – and authentic – voice from New Orleans.
“What made that record a success was that everybody on it, including the backing band, had had some kind of trials and tribulations, and had overcome it. I was being real vulnerable by putting myself out there for the public like that. But if you humble yourself to life, if you surrender, karma is going to take care of you in a good way.”
With “Redemption,” Andrews also made clear that he does not consider himself strictly a New Orleans artist. “I don’t want to define myself, or pigeonhole myself in New Orleans, because I do too many different styles. New Orleans is in me. I don’t need to play ‘Hey Pocky Way’ every night to prove I’m New Orleans. People want to hear what I’ve got to say – that’s what made ‘Redemption’ work. So I’ve got to play my songs.”
His repertoire now focuses on original material, including big band blues in the style of Solomon Burke. The rare cover songs that may turn up in sets are “different, all the way out the box, really unique. Like Led Zeppelin or Donald Fagen.”
Andrews credits the late Allen Toussaint, one of New Orleans’ most renowned and revered songwriters, producers and piano players, with providing a key piece of advice. While in Brazil for a series of shows with Toussaint, Andrews would often eat breakfast with the legend. One morning, Andrews asked how Toussaint stayed inspired to continually reinvent himself. “He said, ‘Right now I’m inspired by my microwave. It’s just amazing what technology can do.’ When he said that, a light went off in my head. This man is 70 years old, and he’s inspired by something as simple as a microwave. It was a humbling answer.”
The birth of Andrews’ first child, a daughter, has provided additional focus and motivation. “I need to provide for my daughter. I’m only able to do that by putting out better records, working with a better band, and upgrading across the board.”
His revamped band includes sousaphonist Julius McKee of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Backed by such top-tier musicians, Andrews intends to uplift, inspire and move audiences every time he steps on a stage. “One night I play for 4,000 people, the next night for 20 people. But I give them all a show for 20,000 people.”
During his increasingly rare breaks at home, he often headlines the Frenchmen Street nightclub d.b.a. for what is considered the must-see show in New Orleans on Monday nights. But he’s also conquered fresh terrain far from home, broadening his perspective with varied musical experiences. He’s showcased up and down the East Coast backed by only a guitarist and a percussionist. He’s made multiple trips to Germany to record with the Sazerac Swingers, and toured France for the first time with his own band. He’s sat in with New York-based soul-rock band Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds on Doobie Brothers and Allman Brothers songs. “I never would have thought that was right for me. But sometimes you’ve got to trust people. All the people I’m working with, they love me, and they believe in my talent. I’ve got to trust them, and let this process play out.”
With a new team behind him, he’s ready to reach the next level of his increasingly worldwide career. “I know where I want to go. It starts with me making the sacrifice to hit the road, instead of staying in my comfort zone. I’m hungry. So I’ve got to go for it.”
|04/29/2018 3:15 pm||Scène Laborde Earles Law Firm Fais Do Do|