Jeff Andrew’s songs create a world of their own. It’s a place where gritty, character-driven travelogues and twisted love stories live alongside weird visions of ghosts and monsters in a post-apocalyptic future. The landscape is an electrified patchwork of outsider folk, post-punk and Celtic, with echoes of old-time Americana and 80s horror movie soundtracks.
Since 2009, this BC-based singer-songwriter, guitarist and fiddler has released 3 albums of original songs on Shade Tree Records, to airplay and critical acclaim across North America and western Europe. His 4th album, Blood Moon, will be released in fall 2022. This full-band album mixes keyboard synths, orchestral instruments and heavy percussion with his classic songwriting to create a new, harder-edged sound inspired by the dark soundscapes of bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and genre-crossing songwriters like Neko Case, Tom Waits and Nick Cave.
Jeff has been a featured performer at over a dozen festivals (most recently at the Ignite The Arts festival in Penticton, BC) and has toured Canada multiple times, playing hundreds of shows between Vancouver Island, Newfoundland and the Yukon. His live shows move between solo acoustic performances, raw, gutsy fiddle playing and loud, effects-driven electric guitar, all spun together with his folksinger’s baritone voice. The result, whether solo or with a band, is a thrilling journey of narrative songs with the energy of a punk rock show.
Jeff’s musical journey started with piano lessons as a child in suburban Ontario, and continued through his high school years, which he spent playing guitar, bass and drums in a series of rock and metal bands. After completing a writing degree at the University of Victoria (where he also worked as an editor at the student newspaper, and was an award-winning feature writer), Jeff entered a period of years spent traveling the highways and backroads of North America, supporting himself as a busker and tree planter. At some point during this time, songs began to emerge. Inspired by his literary interests, in particular the Weird Tales of HP Lovecraft and a fascination with the old hobo world (as heard in the songs and stories of the IWW, and the pre-commercial recordings of blues and folk singers – a record of a musical and social landscape now nearly vanished), he began an exploration of traditional music and a songwriting practice that continues to this day.
A door to the professional world opened in 2006, when Jeff co-wrote the song “Dark, Now” with Sarah Noni Metzner, who later won “Best New Artist” at the Canadian Folk Music Awards. By the following year he had released Dirt Alley Road, a self-recorded, 7-song EP featuring “Truck Stop Wall” (about missing/murdered indigenous women who vanished on Northern BC’s Highway of Tears), and made his first festival appearance, at the ArtsWells festival in Wells, BC (he would continue to perform there annually until its final year in 2019). In 2008 he teamed up with poet shayne avec i grec to form the music/spoken word duo Ghosts Of The Highway. That summer, the pair hitchhiked from Vancouver, BC to St. John’s, NFLD, performing everywhere they could along the way.
Throughout this time, Jeff was also learning to play fiddle. He’d picked the instrument up casually somewhere on the road, but by 2007 it had become an obsession. He began playing at weekly Celtic sessions in Victoria, led by renowned fiddler Daniel Lapp, and learnt a repertoire of Irish tunes there and from other players in the thriving West Coast trad scene. Daily busking sessions led to week-long immersions at the bluegrass/old-time camp Nimble Fingers and private lessons with a range of teachers, including John Showman (New Country Rehab, Creaking Tree String Quartet), Diona Davies (Po’ Girl, Geoff Berner Trio) and Adam Iredale-Grey (Aerialists, Fish & Bird). He also discovered a love of classical music, and began learning romantic and Baroque violin (in particular the solo violin and cello works of JS Bach, which he studied with Israeli violinist Gal Shahar).
2009 to 2011 saw the release on Shade Tree Records of the full-length albums Vagabonds & Wastrels and Hobo Postcards, both recorded by Corwin Fox. During this period, Jeff kept up a busy performance schedule, with weekly gigs in Vancouver and Victoria and multiple tours and festival appearances within BC and across Canada (including a trip as the VIA Rail “onboard musician” from Vancouver to Toronto). He also played fiddle and did numerous tours with Vancouver’s country-punk outfit the Joey Only Outlaw Band, and was a columnist for the magazine “BC Musician.”
In the fall of 2012, ready for something new, Jeff re-located to Nova Scotia, where he spent the winter learning tunes at Halifax pub sessions and attending workshops on Cape Breton Island. He also played 2nd violin with the Halifax Music Co-Op, a community orchestra, and sang with its choir. In 2013, following a return to BC and the release of his 3rd album Tunnels, Treehouses & Trainsmoke, (a collection of new and previously released material), Jeff wrote “Spiderwebs On The Music Box,” an as-yet-unreleased novel with an accompanying set of songs. In 2014 he co-wrote and sang with Vancouver punk band The Rebel Spell on their album Last Run.
2014 was also the year he began music studies at the Vancouver Community College. As a polymathic player with a wide-ranging but scattered musical education, it was time to go back to basics and build a foundation. He studied theory, counterpoint and arranging, sang in a classical & World Music choir, and focused on composition for strings and choral voices. During this period, he contributed a track to Rebels Sing, a tribute album to The Rebel Spell, whose singer Todd Serious was killed in a rock climbing accident in 2015. He also appeared as a guest vocalist and fiddler on recordings by the Joey Only Outlaw Band, Jesse LeBourdais and The Party On High Street.
In 2017, Jeff completed his Music Diploma, with a major in Composition and minors in Violin and Vocal Performance. His private teachers included Marc Destrube (violin), David G Duke and Bill Sample (composition) and Paula Kremer (voice). Another period of travel followed, which took him to Mexico, New Orleans and Nashville, where his chance discovery of a 1955 Gibson ES-125 rekindled his interest in guitar playing. An acoustic guitar that plays like an electric (his dream instrument), this vintage axe has helped him get closer to realizing the sound in his head.
In 2018, Jeff set himself to completing the songs for his long-awaited 4th album, Blood Moon. Much of 2019 was spent working on arrangements for Blood Moon and rehearsing with Vancouver musicians (including his long-time collaborators Kenan Sungur and Adam Farnsworth, of High Society and Babyface Brass, and Devon Venoit of The Party On High Street). In March 2020, the band traveled to Cumberland, BC to record with Corwin Fox. COVID hit while they were in the studio, and things got sidetracked for a while, but now the album is complete. Watch for a fall 2022 release, featuring artwork by Miccaotli.