Pittsburgh: Andra Faye Interview by Monica L. Yasher

Posted on 10/08/2009 by Monica Yasher

“A very special moment for me in Saffire…Just having the love of KoKo. Having some blues artist like her, be so welcoming to a young Midwestern white girl.”

That’s just one thing that Andra Faye shared with us. As promised, this is the second part in our three part feature of Saffire-The Uppity Blues Women. They are on their final farewell tour, which ends next month.

The day of my interview we arrived at the Heritage Blues Festival, and Maureen and I were walking around the food stands checking things out. The food...GATOR? Everything fried! There goes the diet I keep saying I'm on! And, I spied Andra's husband, Chris. I haven't seen Chris for a few years. But, he is someone that you just don't forget once you meet him. If you ever met him, you would know exactly what I mean! I used that old line, Hey I know you! And, Chris stops to chat, since he is our contact for the Saffire-Uppity Blues Women interviews! Chris makes the connection via cell phone and we are off to our interviews of the ladies.

I enjoyed speaking with Andra. Her smile is big, and she is just one of those special people you like to talk to! She likes to laugh. She tells me she laughs at Chris' jokes all the time around the house. And, from speaking with her, she likes to live; and, music has allowed her to live life and go places a midwestern girl can only dream of!

Monica: We’re here with Andra from Saffire and she is on the Saffire final concert tour.

Andra: Yes I am.

Monica: It ends in November

Andra: Yes.

Monica: What are your feelings of the final concert tour?

Andra: Well it’s been very exciting. It’s been fun to be able to full steam ahead again. We had kinda decreased for different health reasons and things, and it’s been really fun to be back up and in full tilt boogey mood mode! It’s bitter sweet you know.

Monica: I know.

Andra: Come November 8 after the last show, I’ll be like ah oh now what?

Monica: And, what now? Do you have any ideas?

Andra: Well I have several irons in the fire. I also have begun to give private music lessons at a music store-it pays the mortgage. A kinda nice thing. So I’m touring under my own name. A band that works quite a bit called Andra Faye and the mighty good men.

Monica: Is it acoustic or electric?

Andra: It’s both . It depends on the gig. I have drummers with me sometimes. Go electric sometimes. Go acoustic sometimes. It’s nice to have the flexibility to do both.

Monica: You were the country blues influence in the group. Are you going to carry that through more heavily in our own efforts?

Andra: Core roots I‘d probably say. Sometimes when I do a blues set I want to do a country song and if I do a country set full time I want to do more blues. I’m contrary that way. I just like…I really love…all kinds of roots music.

Monica: Do you think you will ever take on the title, I hate to say this since it’s a blues website, of Americana?

Andra: I don’t mind Americana. It’s right in there with roots.

Monica: Yeah. I think so to.

Andra: I’m probably a better fit there than other places. It’s hard to pin hole your music and I just like to sing what I want to sing. So, if it’s Americana that’s fine. If it’s roots, that’s fine. It’s blues that’s fine. Whatever just call me! Call ME!

Monica: What do you think is your most requested song?

Andra: Man-that probably depends a lot on what album people have. Gaye’s, Middle Aged Blues Boogie, is an all time….now are you speaking of one’s I sing? Or across the board?

Monica: Whichever you want to share.

Andra: The new album has our new little hit and it’s one that I do sing, called, Too Much But. And, there ain’t no such thing as Too much.

Monica: I think I have that on our site. I found a you tube copy and posted it. It’s not the best copy out there.

Andra: There’s a few of them out there. There’s a woman dancing to it called Chocolate Thunder. (laugh)

Monica: The one I found had you doing an acoustic set, and the crowd was going wild and just loving it!
I remember your husband singing that at the Augusta Camp. I thought he wrote it.

Andra: It was Gaye’s idea. It’s been around Fredericksburg and is a local hit. The guy who wrote it travels and is a comedian musician named Art Bruce. What’s really cool is it has been a guy’s point of view for all of these years, and I moved to town and heard it and thought. I just moved to town and how could there be a song about me already? You know. But some women didn’t like it. I thought it was fun. So Gaye suggested putting it in the first person. A lot of people….like women….kinda like it now. They’re owning it more rather than having someone talking about them. They’re kinda talking about themselves.

Monica: You can laugh at yourself.

Andra: That makes it kinda cool.

Monica: You know I had the great opportunity of speaking with Chris Smither. He wrote love me like a man.

Andra: Sure did!

Monica: That was the first time I heard it from the male perspective. That song is so hot!

Andra: That’s a great song! I can love ya like a real man. Yeah, right. That’s good.

Monica: That’s just tweaking the right person that the song is written in. What a difference it can make in a song!

Andra: It’s hard to say. Not all songs can be tweaked. But, it’s nice because it brings it such a fresh attitude to the song.

Monica: Absolutely!

Andra: I’m sure he’s happy Bonnie covered it though!

Monica: What does it mean to be musically promiscuous to you?

Andra: Well I am already musically promiscuous. I play with a lot of folks locally. You know for the past 5 years I’ve been the electric bass player at a jam every Wednesday when I was home. So I like to play with a lot of different great people. I give lessons. I’m always looking for opportunities to play with other people. I’ve been stepping out for a while. (she laughs) Which is true. Actually in the past couple of years we haven’t been gigging as much. So, I was looking for other opportunities just to play music outside of my living room. You need to meet other people. You never know when you might need another bass player, drummer that kind of stuff.

Monica: In your tenure with Saffire, what do you think was the best memorable moment you had? Do you have one?

(Andra got quieter) There’s a lot. There’s so many. I think you are going to make me cry. Best moments.. there are so many. One thing that is true for me is that I have always loved to travel…and so I‘ve gotten to go around the world. Barcelona, Spain, Brazil, New Zealand, Africa. Just so …it‘s amazing where our little band has gotten to go because of music….and having the experience of people enjoying your music that don‘t even speak your language enjoying your music is pretty cool. And, plus our music is so vocally oriented, when we are at a place where they don’t even speak the language we play really good. We try to make the music speak. You know. That has been for me, a dream come true.

Monica: Cool. Who do you listen to?

Andra: Eden Brent is pretty exciting. I listen to old favorites a lot. Etta James, Bonnie Raitt, KoKo..I just recently listened to KoKo. My own little tribute ’cause I love her so. A very special moment for me in Saffire…Just having the love of KoKo. Having some blues artist like her, be so welcoming to a young Midwestern white girl

Monica: That’s awesome.

Andra: It’s really awesome. I just finished listening to a whole 2 CD compilation of KoKo of her youth.

Monica: Are you a songwriter as well?

Andra: I am. I am not as prolific as Gaye, by any means. They cook. They take a while to cook. They have to sit on the back of the stove and boil a while. I have two on the new album.

Monica: Any thing you want to tell us?

Andra: Sure. My website is I’m always interested in meeting other women musicians and hearing what’s going on in the world. Our world is kind of small really. It’s nice to get to other festivals and hear other bands and stuff.

People who liked this article, also liked: Gaye Adegbalola and
Ann Rabson

Copyright © 2009 Monica L. Yasher. All Rights Reserved.
Photo Copyright © 2009 Maureen Ceidro. All Rights Reserved.

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