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Author Topic: Musician Andy York Enjoying His Journey  (Read 14584 times)
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« on: November 04, 2011, 08:50:23 am »

Lead Guitarist For John Mellencamp Welcomes Change of Pace

By Jeff Walker, Entertainment Writer

Veteran musician Andy York has been keeping himself busy for the past quarter century, most notably as the lead guitarist in John Mellencamp‘s band. York has spent the better part of 17 years traveling with the legendary Indiana rocker. Prior to his present gig York was with the very successful ‘indie rock’ group, Jason & the Scorchers from 1986-90.

The grass roots, country rock infused sounds found in both Mellencamp and the Scorchers music seem to fit York’s persona. “I would say that’s a fair assessment. Both bands incorporate the same raw guitar riffs that I’m comfortable with. I was definitely a big fan of both bands long before I joined either one.”

But just because he’s known for playing straight ahead rock n’ roll, York admits his own musical tastes as well as his influences vary. “I’m a big fan of music. There’s no doubt I well rounded. From classical to pop, and from delta blues to folk. You can throw avant-garde jazz into the mix. I just enjoy listening to really good music and artists that are masters of their craft.”

York’s own craftsmanship and guitar expertise have provided the journeyman with some mighty impressive session work. When not on tour with Mellencamp he has found time to lend his talents in the studio alongside rock pioneers Ian Hunter, Nils Lofgren, and Robert Plant. “I guess you could say I’ve been fortunate to record and perform with so called icons in our industry.  Certainly musicians I admire.”

When it comes to laying down tracks for other artists York says he has a clear focus. “My goal is to help them achieve the overall sound they hear in their head. If you can get in touch with what they are trying to lay down then it makes the whole recording process go a little smoother for me. I‘m more than happy to offer up advice if they want my input, but mainly I‘m there to help them get their sound.”

That’s a technique York has learned over the years working with Mellencamp. “John is a very gifted songwriter and likes to experiment with his music. He may be categorized as a certain type of artist but he is very diverse. One of the best things I’ve learned from John is how ever evolving music can be. John likes to take risks in the studio. And even on tour he likes to change it up a little. From a musician’s standpoint that is very refreshing.”

Joining Mellencamp’s band York says is a tale in itself. “How all that came about is rather funny and interesting. Back in the late 1980’s when I was still with the Scorchers I had an opportunity to play in another band called, Hearts & Minds with Bruce Henderson. Both bands were under the umbrella of A&M Records at the time.” When it came time for Hearts & Minds to head into the studio the label offered Mike Wanchic as a producer. Wanchic who has been a guitarist and with Mellencamp since 1976 was eager to take on the project. “We were all fans of John’s music so we felt certain Mike would be a good fit.”

Wanchic and the guys met in New York and clicked immediately. “Mike picked up on what we were trying to do right away. Not long after our first meeting he brought us back to Indiana to work in John’s studio. Naturally I met the rest of the band (Mellencamp’s) while I’ll was out there. I met Kenny, then Toby, and eventually John showed up at the studio.”

Success wasn’t in the cards for Hearts & Minds, and the Scorchers were about to begin a long hiatus. That was back in 1990. Four years later Mellencamp was in need of a new guitarist and he asked Wanchic if York was available. “I think John’s exact words were something along the line, ‘hey what about that kid in Hearts & Minds’. See if you can get a hold of him. I guess you could say the rest is history.”

York came along after the glory years. For over a decade starting from 1979 Mellencamp was one of the most successful artists on the planet. A string of 22 top forty singles including chart toppers such as ‘Jack and Diane’ and ‘Hurt So Good’ made Mellencamp a favorite on the rock and pop radio. “John has always been a very contemporary artist and no doubt he was one of few artists that ruled the 80’s. He’s had several top forty hits since I’ve been with the band. Personally I think John gets better with age.”

Fortunately for York, Mellencamp continues to record and tour on regular occasion. “I appreciate John keeping us all employed.” And there is always the annual Farm Aid concerts, Mellencamp along with Willie Nelson and Neil Young have been hosting now for a quarter century. “Easy for me to get pumped for Farm Aid. It’s a great cause, one I’ve grown very passionate about. When I listen to Neil Young speak about how the family farm is getting phased out by corporate farming it really moves me. I wish we didn’t have to bring attention every year to their plight but it’s something we must do, and John is as committed to the cause as anyone involved.”

John and the band have been out for over a year in support of Mellencamp’s latest release, ‘No Better Than This’ which was produced by the legendary T Bone Burnett. “We had a lot of fun recording the record. It really showcases John’s range as an artist. It’s very Americana and folk all at the same time.”

In the past and certainly during his hey day Mellencamp would let the music stand on it’s own with very little rapport with the audience. But over the past several years and on this tour specifically York says John likes to engage the fans. “He’s a little more talkative now than he was when I first joined the band. He used to tell me that fans didn’t want to hear him ramble on, they came for the music. John likes to mix it up now. He shares insight on the songs and his journey.”

Why the transformation. “I think John is just having more fun. It may be he’s not taking his career, nor his place in rock n' roll for granted, and maybe this is his way to give back to his fans for all their support over the years. All I know, everyone in the band is just having fun and it makes for a great night of music.” Andy York, John Mellencamp and the band play the North Charleston Performing Arts Center on Wednesday November 9th. Good tickets are still available by calling 800-745-3000 or by visiting the coliseum box office.

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« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2011, 09:44:43 am »

“I think John is just having more fun. It may be he’s not taking his career, nor his place in rock n' roll for granted,

I'm ROCK-in' In The USA
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« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2011, 10:51:02 am »

Love these interviews with the band, first Mike, now Andy!
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« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2011, 01:01:18 pm »

I agree, these interviews are great and so true. I think John is very creative in his ideas of how he wants the next CD to go. There is always something different and I as always can't wait to see what's next.
Wish I was going to the NJ show but it's too far. I keeping hoping he comes to Central NY. Oh well I will enjoy all the pictures and videos everyone posts. Thanks Everyone.
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