Lubbock musician Andy Hedges has put out a fine new album featuring his characteristic interpretations of classic cowboy and traditional folk tunes.
Cowboy Songster is definitely worth a listen for fans of cowboy and folk music and those with an interest in the American West, especially since it’s available for free for a limited time on NoiseTrade.
Cowboy Songster takes listeners back to the rough-and-tumble frontier days of the West, with its cowpokes, gamblers, trail-drivers, and dreamers. Andy paints a vivid picture of the era using his melodic acoustic guitar and banjo picking, distinctive gravely vocals, and selection of fascinating period songs, from tall tales to laments. Andy dug deep into the American songbook to find these pieces, and because of his acumen as a musicologist and historian, Cowboy Songster proves to be a reverent and finely curated ramble through the wide-open landscapes, ramshackle frontier towns, and whiskey-perfumed parlors of a time past.
Andy recently took time to talk with Texas Highways about the album and his approach to his music:
Q: When was Cowboy Songster released?
A: Yellowhouse Music released the album in October of 2013. The entire record was recorded in one day back in July of 2013.
Q: How many albums have you released?
A: Cowboy Songster makes eight. Two albums of cowboy poetry recitations that are now out of print, four joint albums with my pal, Andy Wilkinson, and another solo record.
Q: Why did you decide to release Cowboy Songster for free via Noisetrade?
A: I’ve wanted to offer an album for free on Noisetrade for a long time. I’m just hoping to expose more people to my music. I really like this model. People want free music and artists want fans. It’s a great way to connect with people. I hope a lot of people who’ve never heard my music will take a chance to give it a listen.
Q: How do you find old songs to consider performing?
A: I immerse myself in old-time music. I collect old cowboy and folk song books, 78 rpm records, and vinyl records. I also download and listen to lots of music and I’m always looking for something that might work for me.
Q: How did you select the songs for this album? Can you share a couple of specific examples?
A: The songs came from many different sources. I learned my version of “Boll Weevil” directly from the legendary folksinger, Billy Faier. It’s basically Leadbelly’s version but I heard Billy play it one night at his house in Marathon, Texas and asked if he’d show me how to play it. I learned “The Bronc That Wouldn’t Bust” from an old 78 record of The Arkansas Woodchopper. My version of “Old Chisholm Trail” was inspired by a 1930s Alan Lomax field recording of Moses “Clear Rock” Platt. Of course, my versions always end up a little different from the original source.
Q: What is it about old cowboy and traditional folk songs that is interesting and attractive to you?
A: I’ve loved this stuff ever since I was a kid. My dad had a few cassettes of artists like Tex Ritter, Jimmie Rodgers, Marty Robbins, and Sons of the Pioneers and I’ve been hooked ever since. It’s hard to say what it is so appealing about it but I think it’s the stories. I really like songs and poems that tell a story. I also love the sound of traditional American music and I love the lingo that is captured in traditional folk songs.
Q: Who’s your favorite living Texas musician?
A: Don Edwards. He’s an amazing singer, one of my favorite guitar players, and he’s a true scholar of old time cowboy music. Besides all of that, he’s a real gentleman.