Highway 81 Revisited is working with ReverbNation to find and spotlight up-and-coming artists in On The Rise
Andrew Bailie could’ve ended up pursuing hockey instead of music if not for a teammate bringing a guitar to practice one day.
“I started playing guitar when I was 13, and before that I was a hockey player,” said Bailie, a Brooklyn-based guitarist and singer who grew up in Nebraska. “I started skating when I was 2. I picked up a guitar when one of our teammates brought a guitar, and we kind of passed it around. I caught the bug, and that time next year I was playing guitar and not playing hockey.”
From Omaha to New York City
Bailie intended to go to Berklee College of Music in Boston when he was 18. “I had one of those small scholarships, it was no big deal,” he said. “I decided to take a year off, and that turned into nine years.”
He had fun playing the Omaha circuit, but moved to New York when he in 2012, when he was 26.
“I played in some bands, got a lot of word of mouth” in Omaha, he said, “but to make a living off it, if you want to call it that, I got my ass to New York.”
Not surprisingly, the differences between the two cities’ music scenes was striking. In New York, “you go where everyone is used to being the cream of the crop” wherever they came from, he said.
“Omaha was like being the tallest kid in first grade. It didn’t really matter at all,” he said. “There are some great musicians there, and I don’t want to knock their music scene, but at a certain point, if you really want to do the thing for real, you gotta go. I did the sideman thing for a lot of years and just started doing my own thing.”
He found support from fellow Nebraskans who moved to New York. “I’m an only child, so they’re kind of like my brothers.”
Have a listen to Bailie’s “Back In My Life,” the song that led us to checking out Bailie, and read on for more about his background, his love for David Gilmour and his tribute to a young cousin who recently passed away.
Influences and Inspiration
“When I started hearing Black Sabbath in eighth grade, I really wanted to emulate that sound,” said Bailie. “And I went to Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and some Clapton, and I had a teacher who got me into blues and I started listening to BB King and joined the jazz band almost on a lark — somebody said I bet you can do that. I started listening to old-school stuff, Django and Miles and Coltrane, and I’m still into that stuff. Just kept growing as a musician, and some of that stuff informed me. And nobody wants to admit it, but we all listened to Phish at some point when we were 16 or 17.
“My life really changed when I discovered David Gilmour. I love Pink Floyd. I love the patience in the music, I love the way he scripts every note. I love improvisation, but there’s something about putting something into every note.”
Bailey is gearing up to release his debut EP, “Mr. Sunshine.” The title track holds a special place in his heart.
“About a year ago, I lost a cousin to undiagnosed testicular cancer. His nickname was Mr. Sunshine, because he was a light in everybody’s life to everyone who knew him. I think it’s easy to say that about people that have passed away, but was a really great guy. He was in 21, in college, when he passed. He went out of his way to make people feel comfortable and was genuine friends to a lot of people.
“One of those things, it’s not so much I was trying to write about that, as it is inevitable that the writing process is more channeling than anything. I don’t sit down with an agenda as far as what I’m going to write about. But the single does pay tribute to his live.
“I’m also working toward spreading awareness to be checked out for these type of cancers. A lot of people feel invincible, they don’t want to go to the doctor. That could’ve been me. It could’ve been anybody.”
We spoke to Bailie in the spring before a string of shows and video sessions in the U.K. In 2015, he played more than 150 shows in more than 10 countries. He frequently plays at NYC rooms like Rockwood, Pianos, The Shrine and Silvana, and he gigs with Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles. Henry tours with the beloved instrumental collective Snarky Puppy.