Sense of community...

Andy
Andy

Hampshire-based singer Andy Comley goes back to his roots on his Rural Routes tour.

Andy will be playing with double bassist Dave Bulbeck at Stedham Village Hall near Midhurst on Saturday, February 25.

“I live in a very rural area, and I know that for most things you have to go to town,” says, Andy, who lives in Owslebury. “Not a lot happens here, and I am 47 now, and I suppose you just start thinking about community and what you should be doing in the world.

“And the only thing that I can offer the community is my music.

“I started thinking that instead of going to the towns to do my gigs, I should be getting people together in the village areas. There is an altruistic bent there!

“But also I am thinking that I want my gigs to be wonderful. I don’t want to be someone who just turns up in a pub and bashes out a few songs. I like to think of myself as an artist and not just a musician. You can go to gigs in dodgy pubs or even decent venues in London and you can feel that you are being short-changed, which is why I started going to these wonderful village halls.”

Having played on three continents and supported singer-songwriters including Boo Hewerdine, Emily Barker and Amy Wadge, Andy said: “I believe in community and arts provision for all, and I understand that the local hall can be an important place for people to meet and create social ties.

“But I also want an intimate atmosphere for my music, where there’s no distraction, and the audience can focus and be transported musically, and I’ve found it in small rural hall.s”

The gigs are sit down, lights out, spotlight on affairs, says Andy who says he is looking for an immersive evening for the audience and performer alike: “There are no distractions. Nothing else gets in the way. Everyone concentrates on the music.”

Andy has been making music for a quarter of a century or so: “It’s acoustic guitar and vocals, but I have a double bassist that plays with me. In America, you would call it folk. You would call it roots here, I suppose. The person that I have most been compared to is Neil Young, which is fine by me!

“My songs are about love and longing and the odd drunken endeavour. They are mostly songs of love and lost love. You just write, and you don’t find out that the songs are actually about you until later on when you discover what they are! I am just a song-writer, writing from my own experience.”

Andy hasn’t recorded for a while, though. It’s just not his thing.

“Recording and me just don’t seem to get on. I just prefer playing live. I find recording too much of a spotlight. I am too much of a perfectionist. I record something, and I think it is good and then I listen to it a couple of weeks later and I don’t think it is good enough and so I start to tinker with it.”

Live performance is where he is at, particularly in his new rural-routes format: “I love the DIY aspect of it. Everything falls back on me, booking the halls, the arrangements, the seating. I love doing it. I am not relying on anyone else to do the job. It’s control-freakery, but it means that I can be more creative in every aspect. And I just like the idea that people come along and listen, and then once you have enjoyed the evening, it has gone… which means you have got to come back!”

Doors open at 7pm for 7.45 start. Tickets are £12 on the door, or £10 online at www.andycomley.com.

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