Andy Baker
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Andy Baker

Gobles, Michigan, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2000 | SELF

Gobles, Michigan, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2000
Solo Folk Singer/Songwriter




"Andy Baker’s “North Country Sky” Was Created With A Caring Hand"

Andy Baker – North Country Sky

A little late coming but anyone who likes Steve Earle will appreciate this young Michigan troubadour Andy Baker. His 12-cut North Country Sky (dropped June 10th – Independent) manages to tap into a Steve Earle vocal style but not consistently.

“Second Wind,” is accordion heavy& delightfully sunny & melodic. This is Baker’s 4th LP of carefully measured Americana with traditional roots’ melodies, clever storytelling & instruments that weave together a fine musical tapestry. Nothing heavy-handed.

Produced by Ian Gorman & paced brilliantly with acoustic folk, rock salted with blues & country sifted in a skillet of musical ideas served up tastefully. It has originality despite all the easily recognizable ingredients that could be in the mix. That’s actually what makes for a great artist. Taking influences & solidifying something from it — making it your own.

Baker has this expertise & takes a fistful of flavorful styles to bake his own cake. There are pieces of Dann Rogers, Larry Weiss, Steve Earle & Buddy Miller — tossed into the pot. Sometimes a gruff leathery vocal but everything smoothed over & oiled.

“Sixteen,” – an homage to a younger sister who passed away is not an earth-shaking track but listen to the story. Lose yourself in the beauty of the words. This isn’t amateur hour; this isn’t commercial fare. This is poignant & heart wrenching stuff created with a caring hand. To write a song, some writers need imagination, inspiration, & lots of fiction. Andy seems to thrive on reality, for others, for himself, for the some that no one knows about. These songs take journeys, they actually go somewhere, or rather – they actually take you somewhere. This takes skill.

These go beyond mere songs. I returned to this one a few times. They are like little short stories, epitaphs, a small story hidden on page 42 of a newspaper, a forgotten soul buried alone on a rainy day with only two mourners who didn’t know him. No clichés here.

“Next Real Thing,” sounds like Andy may have listened to the late John Prine. That’s where stories like this originate. Andy with John Prine’s passing may have stepped up a notch now. These are purposeful songs. Not easy to write unless the songwriter has some experience.

Andy (vocals/acoustic guitar/octave mandolin/dobro/keys/hand percussion), Jeff Moehle (drums/Cajon), John Austin (bass), Will Walker (rhythm/lead guitar), Drew Howard (pedal steel), Mike Lynch (accordion/organ), Noah Nigg (Wurlitzer), Mark Schrock (mandolin), Mia Rose (backing vocals), Grammy Award winner Peter “Madcat” Ruth (harp), Ian Gorman (banjo) & the Black River Tavern Choir.

“I Know,” is the catchiest among many songs. Memorable, articulate & delicate. The tragic “Tsunami” has muscle & drama. Excellent. The finale, “North Country Sky,” has a touch of the old Jim Pulte (“Shimmy She Roll, Shimmy She Shake” – 1973) in this style. I always liked it, & glad Andy continues the tradition.

The LP is filled with dignified, well-written & performed songs. The 45-minute LP: Available at - John Apice

"Feted Michigan songwriter Andy Baker taps eclectic, heart-moving milieu for new album"

One might guess that as a two-time finalist in the Kerrville Folk Festival’s nationally renowned Grassy Hill New Folk Songwriting Competition, Andy Baker has a fertile repository of life experiences to shape his music.

He does.

The Gobles-based singer-songwriter and his wife are veterinarians who’ve raised three children and recently completed their 15th Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii (after Baker learned how to swim at age 40).

He started journaling as a young man after his sister died of a brain tumor at age 15, then turned to music in his mid-20s – inspired by the ever “so powerful, so poetic” songs of the Indigo Girls, U2 and Counting Crows.

“Something in me just fell for the power in the poetry of these writers,” said Baker, 55, who’s also a finalist in this year’s The Acorn theater singer-songwriter competition in Three Oaks.

“Somewhere along the line, I thought to myself, maybe I could do this as well. So my journaling turned into poetry and then to songwriting as I learned to play guitar. And then music became my therapy.”

Baker — who early this month released his fourth studio album, “North Country Sky,” recorded at Kalamazoo’s La Luna Recording & Sound — conceded that he does most of his writing “in very quiet places” as a “meditative thing.”

Indeed, his running and bicycling have planted the seeds for many songs.

“I have found that I do some of my best writing on long-distance runs or bikes,” he said. “There seems to be something about putting your body in motion – quieting some of the static in your brain – that makes room for creativity to enter.”

Baker displayed some of that creativity as this week’s guest for the Local Spins on WYCE radio show, which not only featured the lead track from his new album, “Second Wind,” but also a brand new, unreleased song inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic, “The Table.” Listen to both songs in the full radio show podcast below and check out a video for the track, “I Know,” here. - Local Spins


"One Fine Day" released 2017

"Down" released 2007

"Whisper" released 2001



“Lose yourself in the beauty of these words. This isn’t amateur hour; this isn’t commercial fare. This is poignant and heart wrenching stuff created by a caring hand.”   -John Apice, Americana Highways

“Andy’s an engaging performer…well crafted tunes, slices of life from touching story songs to hilarious sends, performed on a variety of stringed instruments. A real pleasure!”   -Jim Bizer, MAMA’s Coffee House

-2020 Winner, Kerrville Newfolk Songwriting Competition (2017 Finalist)

-2020 Falcon Ridge Emerging Artist Showcase

-2020 Acorn Theater Songwriting Competition Finalist

-2020 album "North Country Sky" charts in top 20 Folk DJ Charts

West Michigan singer/songwriter Andy Baker has spent a lifetime peering through microscopes. As a veterinarian, it’s a necessary skill…searching for small clues in order to grasp the bigger picture. Pretty handy tool for a songwriter too. In fact, Andy has spent a great deal of his life with his own lens turned inward…and outward…and it shows in his newest collection of award winning modern folk tunes. 

Songs from his 2020 studio album “North Country Sky” are deeply rooted in Andy's life experiences as a father, veterinarian, Ironman triathlete, poet, and humble ponderer. Influences such as John Mayer, Ryan Adams, and the Indigo Girls are easy to hear, and his sound is both familiar and all his own. Jon Stein of Hootenanny Cafe writes: "From the first note of the first song to the last note of the last song, Andy Baker's most recent CD North Country Sky is nothing less than brilliant. His tunes will compel the listener to keep listening...and then after the last note of the last song, leave them wanting more!” His 2017 album “One Fine Day” also garnered acclaim, including a coveted finalist spot in the 2017 Kerrville New Folk songwriting competition, and the entire record was nominated for Best Contemporary Folk Album by WYCE in Grand Rapids. 

But it’s on the stage where Andy’s music really shines. He plays 4 different instruments during his shows…guitar, bouzouki, dobro, and bass...and his easy humor and energetic performance style keeps his listeners on the edges of their seats. His shimmering open tuned guitar work is a nod to his hero’s like Michael Hedges and David Wilcox, and his humorous songs like “Pink Cadillac” and “Labrador Blues” get em rolling in the isles. But it's his pondering poetry and glimmering hope that sticks with his listeners long after the show is over. 


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