Q&A with Nashville-based multitalented Andy Peake, has been surrounded by music since his formative days

"Make peace with the blues. Some days are going to beat the hell out of you but it's all part of the tour. Celebrate the craziness that the music experience brings. My life would have been a hell of a lot more boring were it not for the extreme and even at times life threatening experiences I have had. Dance if you feel like it."

Andy Peake: Music City's Mood Swing

Andy Peake has been surrounded by music since his formative days. His mother held a bachelor's degree in music and sang and played professionally as a church support person. His influences included jazz, Broadway, classical and the pop music of the 1950s forward. He attended college as a music major and turned professional in 1972. After years of local performances, primarily in the Denver area, he moved to Nashville, TN where he began a fast track to regional and national success as an artist support person, playing drums and percussion for multiple touring and recording artists including Don Williams, Tanya Tucker, Delbert McClinton, Lee Roy Parnell, the Sweethearts of the Rodeo and highly successful songwriter, Gary Burr. He remains active, touring, recording and performing. In 1987, Andy was contacted by musician friends to come to Nashville from Colorado and join the band as drummer for pop artist Nicolette Larson. The offer was accepted and the process of becoming established as an "in-demand" drummer/percussionist in the active music scene of Music City began. This lead to international touring, recording, TV support appearances, product endorsements and audio engineering.                     (Photo: Andy Peake, Biglittle Recording Studio / Nashville TN)

In 1996, Andy took the plunge to learn audio engineering and coupled that immediately with music production. His 1st project received critical acclaim and netted 3 songs re-recorded by other artists for their own projects. In 2018, his production of an album, "Step On It," for the band, "Big Shoes," which Andy created, produced and managed beginning 2011, was awarded a nomination for "Blues Album of the Year" by music industry mainstay, Downbeat magazine. He continues his successful career as a drummer, producer, engineer and project coordinator based in Nashville, TN. ANDY PEAKE's MOOD SWINGS, his solo debut album, will be released on August 20, 2021. Produced and engineered by Peake at his Biglittle Recording Studio. The album is testament to the respect and friendship between Peake and his talented, accomplished friends.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Blues and Roots American music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you have taken?

In 1989 as I was touring England with Americana/country artist, Don Williams ("Living On Tulsa Time"), I was struck by the enthusiasm of the people in the audiences. It was clear that we were sharing something with them that was uniquely American. My perspective turned to all the music and art forms that have developed in the U.S. -- the melting pot that is American roots music. I was actually quite proud to be able to share my part with the people of the UK. I have been more aware of what we have here in the States ever since.

How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?

My sound represents the blending of American roots art forms -- The music of Memphis, Louisiana, Chicago, Muscle Shoals, Detroit. Whether it was "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green or "Satisfaction" by the Stones, it "drove" me. The sounds I heard coming out of radios starting in the 1950s through the present are all logged in my gray matter data base. I guess you could call it Random Accents Memory.

"Some of the best musicians in the world live in Nashville. Nashville has a deep well of "soulful cats." They are virtuosos of feel. They understand taste and restraint and how to apply it to their individual composition "on the fly." It's also "the songwriter's music city." There is a lot of great blues songwriting by Nashvillians like Gary Nicholson (Bonnie Raitt),Tom Hambridge (Buddy Guy), Delbert McClinton, Keb Mo'..." (Photo: Andy Peake on stage / Bourbon Street 2019, TN)

How started the thought of Biglittle Recording Studio? Which meetings have been the most important experiences?

After working as a studio side man for years, I realized in about 1996 that I could do a better job of musical production than a large portion of the people hiring me who billed themselves as "Producers." They were often only interested in collecting a fee and sending clients on their way. I also realized that I had absorbed so much music in my already 30 years of listening (often behind a set of drums) that I could add to the vision of the artist I was serving rather than just pushing them through the process. My first real production project yielded 3 songs being re-cut by other artists as a result of the quality of music that the artist and I created.

Are there any specific memorable moments with people that you've performed with either live or in the studio?

Performing on the Conan O'Brien show with Delbert McClinton was a moment. Standing backstage sharing stories with Max Weinberg of the E Street Band was awesome. That was soon followed by a show at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium split bill with John Hiatt. That was my kind of music for an audience that was into it! Those were as a band member. I am really looking forward to seeing what dragons I can slay as a front man/artist. In the studio, I recently got to drum and engineer with John Hall of the "No Nukes" concert and writer of the band Orleans' big hits "Still the One" and "Dance With Me." Wow! What a boatload of stories that guy has! Just hearing him describe overdubbing guitar parts on "All That You Dream" by Little Feat was a religious experience!

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

More emphasis on art and less on image.

"My sound represents the blending of American roots art forms -- The music of Memphis, Louisiana, Chicago, Muscle Shoals, Detroit. Whether it was "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green or "Satisfaction" by the Stones, it "drove" me. The sounds I heard coming out of radios starting in the 1950s through the present are all logged in my gray matter data base. I guess you could call it Random Accents Memory." (Photo: Big Al & The Hifis / Andy Peake aka "Pigg Latin")

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

Mostly, I miss the way music is presented to the public. There is still a huge spate of creative roots music being turned out by real musicians and writers that doesn't make it to the general public. The internet and roots radio has allowed roots music to still find an audience. The creators are still creating.

What would you say characterizes Nashville blues scene in comparison to other local US scenes and circuits?

Some of the best musicians in the world live in Nashville. Nashville has a deep well of "soulful cats." They are virtuosos of feel. They understand taste and restraint and how to apply it to their individual composition "on the fly." It's also "the songwriter's music city." There is a lot of great blues songwriting by Nashvillians like Gary Nicholson (Bonnie Raitt),Tom Hambridge (Buddy Guy), Delbert McClinton, Keb Mo'...

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

Make peace with the blues. Some days are going to beat the hell out of you but it's all part of the tour. Celebrate the craziness that the music experience brings. My life would have been a hell of a lot more boring were it not for the extreme and even at times life threatening experiences I have had. Dance if you feel like it.

What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want to affect people?

I respond better to art imitating life than life imitating art. My album, "Mood Swings" describes the ironies of life in various scenarios. Musically, its influences are Latin salsa, Afro-Cuban, Louisiana R&B, jazz, Memphis soul, and gospel. I would like my music to make people feel, dance, smile and think.

Andy Peake - Home

(Photo: Andy Peake) 

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