“Andy Baylor is one of Melbourne’s greatest musical treasures… he lives by his trade and his trade is music” Keith Glass, Herald Sun.
Andy Baylor is one of Australia’s most versatile working musicians. He has drawn on America’s great 20th century legacy of popular music and his own Australian roots to create an individual voice.
The Melbourne-born roots writer and multi-instrumentalist has, musically, seen and done more than most. He has been acclaimed as “Melbourne’s King of Roots”.
“Melbourne is a treasure-trove of fine music and marvellous musical practitioners. One of the most gifted is Andy Baylor. He is a master of space and time,” Ken Williams, The Age.
As a guitarist, Andy combines a deep knowledge of blues, jazz, folk and country music. After spending his formative years in well-loved Melbourne inner-urban bands such as the Blue Rockets, The Honeydrippers and the Auto Drifters, he went on to cut his teeth playing with visiting USA masters including Jimmy Witherspoon (legendary blues shouter), Big Jay
McNeely (R’n’B saxophone pioneer), Jimmy McGriff (funky hammond organ virtuoso), Flaco Jimenez (tex-mex accordion king), Coco Robicheaux (contemporary singer/songwriter from New Orleans), Louisiana Red (Bluesman), Screamin Jay Hawkins (voodoo blues king) among many more.
“Over the years Andy Baylor has taken us on a world tour of musical styles, from western swing to Cajun boogie, country blues to sublime pop… Like many of the finest things in life, Andy’s new record takes it’s time to reveal its many delights. What at first seems a record of simple dignity gradually emerges as emotionally complex and full of quiet passion.” Jeff Glorfeld, The Age.
During the early 1980’s Andy co-founded the quintessential Aussie roots pioneers, The Dancehall Racketeers. This band toured everywhere in Australia, from Aboriginal settlements in Arnhem Land to big city concert halls, breaking down barriers and introducing such (then considered unusual and obscure) styles of music as Western Swing, Cajun, Zydeco, Rockabilly, Country, Hillbilly and Blues to Australian audiences. Their self-produced vinyl records on the Preston label are highly sought-after collectors items, and offer music that pre-figures the current “Roots” craze both in Australia and in the USA.
As a violinist, Andy has honed a unique Australian sound with elements of swing, Celtic, Cajun, classical and country fiddle styles. In 1989 and again in 2005 he traveled the back roads of the USA as a fiddler, where he played with many legendary musicians including bluegrass greats David Grisman, Texan swing fiddle master Johnny Gimble (a member of Bob Wills Texas Playboys), Cliff Bruner (Texas fiddle virtuoso), Cajun fiddle greats Dewey Balfa, Rufus and Tony Thibodeaux (Rufus toured with Neil Young for years), Dave Greely, Courtney Granger and others. He was mentored by accordonists Ray Abshire and Marc Savoy, and composed over 30 Cajunesque fiddle tunes in Lafayette. This first-hand experience has given Andy unparalleled insights into the traditions of American music.
In 2009 Andy published an M.A. thesis and CD at Melbourne’s RMIT university, “Possum Stole the Pumpkin”- Playing Cajun in Australia.
Also in 2009 Andy spent time in Nashville and West Virginia, playing and learning from master musicians such as mandolinists Mike Compton and Roland White, guitarist Russ Barenberg and fiddlers Buddy Spicher, James Bryan and Bobby Taylor, and Franklin George amongst others.
Over the years Andy has played all the leading music festivals with his various line-ups :- The Banksia Band which focuses on original folk-tinged balladry and exotica; The Hip Hillbillies, a western swing band and his well-known Cajun Combo which specializes in a unique, hybrid mix of Louisana-inspired Cajun dance music, blues, and original tunes delivered with a definitive Australian roots flavour.
Andy continues his unique musical journey with a host of diverse musical projects, and his wide artistic interests are reflected in his many CD releases.