Andy Waldeck’s musical genesis story is the classic Everyband tale, the same track laid down everyday in a garage somewhere in America. Spiky-haired kid hears music and composes an identity of it, then plugs in, tunes up and rocks out, a story that’s all about light-hearted experimentation, more Weird Science than rocket science. Of course, even Anthony Michael Hall has to grow up sometime, and Waldeck isn’t a kid anymore.
A down-to-Earth Andy Waldeck performs a benefit for Sk8 Nelson at The Hamner Theater on Saturday, August 23.
But consider for a moment Waldeck’s place among local rockers and what, exactly, his career represents. After his brawny funk band Egypt called it quits, Waldeck started Earth to Andy, the stately ’90s alterna-pop band that cleared a path from local venues to the top offices of Red Light Management, a path recently tread by both 2008 “Best Of C-VILLE” winner Sons of Bill and Sparky’s Flaw, who opened for Earth to Andy at Starr Hill in 2005.
What’s more, Earth to Andy’s lifespan was one of the earliest indicators of where the modern music industry was headed: The group was one of a multiplicity of genre bands that were lumped together—post-grunge, pre-pop punk acts like Stone Temple Pilots and Better Than Ezra—and met their demise when their record label, Giant Records, was absorbed back into parent company Warner Bros. in 2001. Incidentally, this was the same year that file sharing service Napster shut down and generally around the same time that record sales began their descent into nonexistence.
The most interesting thing about Waldeck’s career, however, is that the cosmonaut kid from Earth to Andy didn’t burn up in the atmosphere when his ship came crashing back down from the stars. Waldeck has adapted, evolved—or, to give him more credit for his efforts, grown up.
“I feel like there are nine or 10 bands coming up through town right now, and I want to do anything I can do to guide the next generation of artists in a positive way,” says Waldeck during a phone interview, a comment that sounds more paternal than young punk. He rattles off a list of young bands that he’s involved with currently—helping Will Nealy of local distorters Raven’s Place frame a few songs, producing the new album from local metal heroes Bella Morte (“Coming out in October,” he e-mails later), and recently practicing with Beetnix.
Waldeck also has a gig lined up for Saturday, August 23, a set at The Hamner Theater to benefit Sk8 Nelson, a group raising money to build a skatepark in Nelson County. Waldeck, who lives in Nelson with his wife, singer and photographer Jenn Rhubright, will perform a few of his tunes as well as songs from Rhubright’s bands—among them, the Dirty Dishes and Claire Quilty—and some “tasty covers.”
Waldeck speaks about the benefit gig with the same sort of fatherly attachment to the next generation of skateboarders. “That thing was on my feet all the time,” he says with a laugh. “I grew up at a time when skateboarding was criminal. Counties didn’t spend money to rent [skate park] structures, they hired more cops.”
Time for a tune-up! The Garage prepares to host shows starting in September, according to mastermind Kate Daughdrill.
Putting younger bands into the spotlight means that Waldeck moves at a more leisurely pace with his own music, but the wiser rocker planned accordingly. Rather than rent studio time, Waldeck completed a home studio roughly six months ago and says that he has been “continuously recording” material since then. Even his schedule of gigs focuses more on younger acts: Besides the Sk8 Nelson benefit and an upcoming Kid Pan Alley show at Foxfield on September 16, the next Waldeck solo gig is set for November 1 at Rapunzel’s Coffee.
But it is interesting to see a musician avoid the “Burn Out versus Fade Away” ultimatum by redistributing his efforts. Waldeck is still a force to be reckoned with—a veritable pop song machine with a voice that is warmer and more nuanced than most growling grunge-heads—and very much the enthusiastic kid he’s always been. He’s simply grown up enough to guide the next generation through the rockier times of rock ’n’ roll, and he may be the best man for the job.
In The Garage
A decision on the proposed Starr Hill Presents venue on Preston Avenue was deferred by the City Planning Commission during a meeting last week for reasons that include concerns over noise and traffic. On the same day that the Planning Commission met, however, I was standing with Kate Daughdrill in The Garage, a spot that she hopes will function as a small venue beginning in September.
Daughdrill previously coordinated the Makers Discussion Series, a monthly event hosted by Christ Episcopal Church in which local musicians and artists—among them former Hackensaw Boy David Sickmen, poet Lisa Russ Spaar and artist Allyson Melberg Taylor—gave free performances and presentations on their art in the church’s space. Now an employee of Piedmont Council for the Arts, Daughdrill hopes that The Garage, also owned by Christ Episcopal Church, will engage the community in a similar dialogue, but focus more on arts and performances; she mentions artist Patrick Costello and musician Adam Smith as possible guests at The Garage in September.
The space is a cozy fit, a large brick box that opens on both ends to reveal a few large lamps and a couch that looks somewhere between “worn in” and “worn out.” It does, however, offer stadium seating: The Garage is on First Street NW, directly across the street from Lee Park, where people gathered in June to watch a preliminary, casually announced folk gig.
There is no confirmed schedule set for The Garage yet, but watch this space for more in the coming weeks. For more photos of the space, read Feedback.