By Tripp Liles
I grew up in the south and while attending college my friends and I would hit clubs from North Carolina through Georgia seeing bands like R.E.M., Pylon, and The Connells in clubs like the famous 688 in Atlanta or the Cats Cradle in Chapel Hill, NC. This was a time called the Eighties, when cable TV was the Internet of today and music from the Southeastern portion of the U.S. reigned supreme. Those artists were unique to me because they didn’t hide the fact that they were from the south, heck they were even proud of it, and they inspired me in ways I can never repay.
I recently met a legend amongst that crowd of artists, Andy Browne, who lives in Roswell. Andy was the front man for a band called the Nightporters, who were a group of young men from the Atlanta suburbs that rocked this area for most of the 1980s. I saw them many times and while I wasn’t there, they opened for The Clash at the Fox Theater in their last performance in Atlanta in 1984… the man shared a stage with Joe Strummer. To some that could have been a career, but not Andy, he’s still barreling along expanding his music in ways I’m sure his younger self would admire.
These days Browne performs with multiple lineups of his own Andy Browne Troupe and solo gigs with his guitar. At his core Browne is a rocker and punk is in his soul but much like Strummer there is a whole lot more going on creatively than just swinging a guitar around. With his troupe they produce a sound reminiscent of the southern alternative scene from his past. His songwriting has never been stronger and the musical maturity is showing. The Andy Browne Troupe released a trio of CDs recently under the theme of “Zazel,” a performance name for Rosa Richter, who at the age of 16 was noted to be the first human cannonball in the late 19th century. The CDs represent a clean honest version of good old rock and roll with even a little dose of Americana. It is a sound that is instantly familiar crafted by a true artist. Dare I say that Browne’s voice even evokes Paul Westerberg of The Replacements these days.
But Browne is not staying put. The industry has changed a lot over the past three decades and these days the musical influences are varied. Life also has a different perspective and his passion has never been greater.
“With this new band I want to make everyone feel like they’re 20 again,” Browne said. “When you started listening to music, when you started to find the bands you loved. How did you feel? It energized you. I can’t sleep because I want to get up and listen to music.”
As Browne moves forward he is collaborating with a wide array of artists in the Atlanta area. Those influences are coming from various sources including a healthy dose of soul.
“We’re tapping into this new audience now,” Browne stated. “And I love it (referring to soul) because it’s showing me that music boundaries are coming down. I’m out there singling like Smokey Robinson and these people are like… where’d this guy come from?”
Well we now know he’s from Roswell and you can see him in person performing at the Roswell Arts Festival on Sept. 17 at 4 p.m. Additionally, he’s performing at Cherokee Brewing on Sept. 28. His website is andybrownetroupe.net and his music is readily available through iTunes and spotify.