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Get your fill of food and folk with Andrew Collins

Noteworthy Canadian folk artist to perform with his trio at Utopia in November
Andrew Collins Trio

Devotees of folk music can satisfy their palates for great food and great sounds, by taking in the concert next month at Utopia Hall featuring the Toronto-based Andrew Collins Trio.

Collins, a mandolin whiz, has contributed significantly to the acoustic scene in this country, having co-founded seriously noteworthy Canadian bands like the Creaking Tree String Quartet, the Foggy Hogtown Boys and, most recently, his trio.

Not to create a perception of generation-based snobbery, but Collins recently told BarrieToday he and his older fan base are helping quash the perception that acoustic/roots music has been either dead or dying for years.

“I will say that we do have an older audience than some. I think since we’re often playing in performing arts centres, and small folk venues, we attract a fair amount of retirees.”

But it’s about bringing everyone on board, regardless of age.

“Our music is all about pushing the boundaries and finding new sounds which are influenced by tradition but not bound by it. This helps keep the genre alive, I think.”

Andrew is aided in this venture by cohorts Mike Mezzatesta – on guitar, mandolin, fiddle and mandola, and James McEleney, who makes bass, mandocello and vocals shine.

What fans (who will be diners first on Saturday, Nov. 10, the buffet portion of the evening getting underway at 7 p.m. before the concert at 8) will warm to is the full menu of creativity in the sounds they hear.

“I’d say the facility that we have on our instruments and the eclecticism stylistically goes a long way. While we may have a little flash on our side, the fact that our music isn’t just about chops. We also have a lot of simplicity and humour in our music.”

For sure, Collins has collected Canadian Folk Music Awards hardware (seven awards in all), and five Juno nominations. But that doesn’t hold a candle to playing alongside bluegrass greats at the Merle Watson bluegrass festival (Merlefest, for short, Watson being the son of the legendary guitarist Doc Watson).

“I went to this festival almost 25 years ago, and getting to return as an artist (on the main stage) and peer to all of my heroes was an incredible treat. Also, they had some of the best sound of any festival I’ve ever played.”

The newest recorded efforts from the boys are two albums called Tongue and Groove, with 11 vocal tracks (tongues), and 11 instrumentals (grooves). What can fans who stream the music or buy the CD expect?

“In a word, breadth; these albums draw from so many different genres and influences, there’s something for everyone.

But, like so many artists, Andrew is a bit diffident about picking a favourite piece on the album, “but if I had to, I’d say from Tongue, it would be Cello Song and from GrooveFamous Last Words. They’re both the first track on each album, so I guess you can say I like to start with a bang.”

The Groove album has pushed the boys forward, getting them a Canadian Folks Music nomination for Instrumental Group of the Year. And the experience promises to be a fresh and exciting one, the trio never having been to Utopia before.

“I’m just looking forward to introducing our music to a new, unsuspecting audience. I guess I’m most avidly looking forward to meeting the folks that come out. It’s always nice to make new friends.”

Enjoy dinner and a show with Andrew Collins and his trio, at Utopia Hall, 8396 6th Line, Saturday, Nov. 10, starting at 7 p.m. If you’d like to know more click here.

Glenn Wilkins

About the Author: Glenn Wilkins

Glenn Wilkins, in a 30-year media career, has written for print and electronic media, as well as for TV and radio. Glenn has two books under his belt, profiling Canadian actors on Broadway and NHL coaches.
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