Andy Griggs

Andy Griggs has seen plenty of changes in the country scene since he first debuted, back when kings like Waylon and Johnny still walked among us and "idols" were just little gold statues. Turning heads with his unmistakably soulful and Southern-as-molasses sound, he quickly topped the charts with hits like "You Won't Ever Be Lonely" and "I'll Go Crazy." And he weathered some down times, too, when things just didn't quite connect. But while the music business and its infinite changes continued to swirl around him through the years, one thing never changed: his belief in the power of a phenomenal song. And on his brand new Montage Music Group album, he has assembled a collection of what he believes are some of the absolute, best songs of his career.

"I believe in gut feeling...I don't believe in over-thinking things," explains Andy, about his unwavering approach to making music. "If it hits your heart and soul, then it's a winner. And I've always approached it the same way. You pick a direction and a style, and whether you're writing the song or someone down the street is, it's always about the song. Does the song fit you in your heart and soul? Are you willing to marry that song for the rest of your life? I'll never forget, that's one of the things Waylon always said to me. He said, 'Son, when you record a song, you better get ready to sing it for the rest of your life, and if you're not ready to do that, what are you doing wasting your time and everyone else's recording it?'"

From the sound of his debut project on his new label, Montage Music Group, Griggs was more than willing and ready to make that trip down the musical aisle one more time. And why not? Hits like "She's More," and "You Won't Ever Be Lonely" have cemented his reputation as a true song interpreter and won him fans far and wide. To him, it's those loyal fans and the time he gets to spend onstage with them that matter more than anything else he does. "Even before I landed the new record deal with Montage, we never missed a beat as far as getting out on the road and continuing to play the small towns and big cities, picking our guitar strings and smiling for the fans," says Griggs. "I guess I can say that's what I love most about music, is being out in front of the crowds singing for them. If that's not your biggest reward as a singer, I think you're in the wrong business!"

Arriving in Nashville with guitar in hand in 1994, Andy quickly made a name for himself on the country scene. Signing with RCA, he recorded his debut album, YOU WON'T EVER BE LONELY, and racked up two top 10 hits with the title tune "I'll Go Crazy." Soon after, his single "She's More" became his third consecutive top 10. The album also included a duet with one of his heroes, "Shine on Me," with Waylon Jennings, as well as a scorching rendition of Rodney Crowell's "Ain't Livin' Long Like This." YOU WON'T EVER BE LONELY was certified Gold in 2000.

Griggs followed his debut success with two more solid efforts, FREEDOM, and THIS I GOTTA SEE, before electing to change things up in 2005. Starting from scratch after a decade recording for RCA Nashville proved to be both liberating and a little bit scary for Griggs. However, he knew he had one specific goal in mind that was not negotiable, creative freedom. Knowing how rare and valuable that can be in an artist's career, he was willing to wait for it, no matter how long it took. Fortunately, fate stepped in and offered Griggs what he'd always been craving. "I wanted to sign with someone who was going to let me record the music I wanted to make. I've always felt I've been there about 70 percent, and gotten 70- percent accomplished, but not quite a hundred, musically. I think it's the nature of the business... with a large label there are a whole lot more strings attached with everything you do. Making the change to Montage gave me the freedom to have more control over my music."

When Griggs' heard about the team being assembled at new label Montage Music Group, he knew he would be in the right place. And feeling like a kid fresh out of Sunday school on a beautiful afternoon, he set out to find a new producer to help him celebrate and embrace his newfound musical freedom. A fellow co-writer at his publishing company Hori Pro, Frank Myers, helped him produce a couple of demos, and Andy quickly recognized the chemistry the two began to have in the studio.

"I've always been a fan of Frank Myers songwriting and the way he produces demos. We wrote a couple of songs together and Frank produced them and I just fell in love with his production. So by the time I signed with Montage, Frank was at the top of my list to produce my new album. We recorded a couple of songs, and as soon as I watched him work in the studio I remember telling my manager Donny 'that's my producer.' And we went to work on the new record."

The new album covers plenty of ground musically, from barn-burning rockers and retro-feeling story tunes to soul-searing ballads and bonified weepers. Andy translates each tale perfectly, channeling his bluesy, soulful side on tracks like "All About The Money," a cautionary tale about the root of all evil, and "Long Way Down," a wailing good time of a tune about the power of a woman's charms. His crystal clear vocals weigh heavy with anguish on "What If It's Me," a song about a man who finally realizes why his relationships keep crashing and burning, as well as on the power ballad "Tears And Time." And contemplative cuts like "If You Had Called Yesterday" and the masterfully written "Time Is A Gypsy" find Andy testifying in the bittersweet tones of a man who has crossed that line of no return in a relationship. He even channels a bit of his inner Elvis on "You Can't Drive My Cadillac," a fun, rockabilly-tinged ode to the American classic that lets a woman know just how far she can push her man. And he proves he can still rock with the best of them on the self-penned "Long Stretch Of Lonesome," a pounding, thumping backbeat of a Waylon tune that is an unapologetic love song to the open road and its unfettering promise.

A fitting close to the record is Andy's cover of the old 70's LeRoux classic, "New Orleans Ladies." Laid down not long after Hurricane Katrina hit his home state, Andy felt it a proper way to pay tribute to the Louisiana roots that factor into his sound so heavily. The moment he playfully challenges, "Hey Y'all, Check This Out," in the opening notes of the new CD you know that you're in for some serious fun and entertainment. That was exactly the hardworking singer's goal in making the record he's always wanted to make.

"I'm very excited about this project," says Andy. "Because this is me. This is the real me. I'm anxious to see what people think of it. As far as all the records that I've recorded, I'm definitely more proud of this one than anything else that I've ever been a part of. I really went with my instincts more than ever on this one. When I was stressed making my second album, Waylon used to tell me, 'Andy you're not curing cancer. Just listen to your heart and soul, and go with your gut feeling. And always remember that your whole career is based on three minutes of a song. And you know, putting it in that kind of light, Waylon's right. It starts with a good song, and it ends with a good song."

$25.00 - $30.00

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Andy Griggs

Thursday, October 10 · 7:30 PM at Ranch and Reata Roadhouse