Doug Andrew
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Doug Andrew

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Jan
31
Doug Andrew @ TBD

Austin, Texas, USA

Austin, Texas, USA

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Tremendous, ferocious slice of twisted country blues from Canada

Snapping at you from the off with acoustic guitars thrust out front, Doug Andrew snarls throughout the opening song (Come Down the Canyon) like some country cousin of Pere Ubu’s David Thomas. Instead of Ubu’s synths we get sinewy slide guitar snaking throughout. The lyrics are tough (He lit out with a vengeance/Like a comet down a sewer hole/Black eyed and bruised with a half broke/Smirk on his face/They hung a pretty good number on him) and are spat out with feeling. In similar vein the title song is another bruiser, thrashing around looking for trouble while Hearin’ My Footsteps is a mean dirty blues with gutbucket guitar.Sitting in a Darkened Room evokes memories of the late Kevin Coyne in his prime. Things slow down for a couple of tracks. When Christ Was a Cowboy is an epic ballad (nine minutes, all good) one could imagine several Nashville rebels wishing they had written. Henry William could be a traditional lament lifted from Harry Smith but as with all the songs, it was written by Andrew. Best of all is The Cucko’ which lifts its opening from the traditional song but goes on in a Dylanesque vein with a tremendous guitar solo that sobs and trembles until the band eventually coalesce into that rare “mercury sound” that few achieve these days. Brilliant.


Date review added: Sunday, January 14, 2007
Reviewer: Paul Kerr
Reviewers Rating:

- AmericanaUK


THE GIFT: A TRIBUTE TO IAN TYSON
Various Artists (Stony Plain)


A masterfully compiled collection of mostly new and a few already recorded songs by Canadian country-folk legend Ian Tyson, performed by friends, musical trail mates, protégés and professional admirers Gordon Lightfoot, Tom Russell, Chris Hillman, Blue Rodeo, Corb Lund, Cindy Church, Amos Garrett and pedal-steel guitarist Buddy Cage, among others, is a rewarding tribute package that does Tyson proud. Top track: "Someday Soon" by Vancouver's The Circus in Flames, with Cage on pedal steel, performed as a sad and bitter lament. - GQ

- The Toronto Star


Doug Andrew & the Circus in Flames
Recordings By Shawn Conner
Publish Date: October 26, 2006
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A Little Bit of Gasoline (Independent)
Nearly a decade after their debut, Doug Andrew and his band the Circus in Flames have lit the fuse on another disc of ready-to-explode folk rock. A Little Bit of Gasoline reintroduces Andrew’s distinctively weathered voice and the talents of multi-instrumentalist Brian Barr, who also played on the 1997 self-titled Circus in Flames debut. New to the fold are bassist Ron Allan, with whom Andrew played in Shanghai Dog back in the first wave of Vancouver punk, and in-demand drummer Ed Goodine.
The first Circus in Flames disc collected its share of rave reviews, and A Little Bit of Gasoline is bound to do the same. Andrew’s story-songs, backed here with generous helpings of mandolin and slide guitar and sung in an edge-of-madness warble, have a rough-hewn, raw groove. “Come Down the Canyon (Down Canyon Blues)”, a raucous tale about a guy escaping the confines of his narrow-minded hometown, sets the disc’s mood. The bittersweet “See You Waving” and the traditional-sounding folk of “Henry William” give the disc variety, while “When Christ Was a Cowboy” is an ambitious epic. But it’s the scary title track that really delivers. The fastest, punchiest tune here, it gives Andrew and his cohorts a chance to let loose in a way that makes you want to see what the Circus in Flames can do live.

- The Georgia Straight


Review by Bob Gottlieb
If you think of crossing Tom Waits with the Band, and have them play a punk/country/blues/bluegrass hybrid, you might come close to the Circus of Flames' sound. The Circus is led by Doug Andrew, who contributes lead vocal and guitar, as well as writing or co-writing 11 of the 12 songs. His songs seem to reflect the viewpoint of an average guy who has been to a good party and is glad to be in the company of his friends. They are out for a good time, and their playing, rather than being flawless, reflects their simple joy of making music together.

- allMusic


The Gift: A Tribute
to Ian Tyson
Various Artists
Stony Plain Records - SPCD 1322

Stony Plain Records
P.O.B. 861
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T5J 2L8

Available from Hitching Post Supply.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker
(progdawg@hotmail.com)



Some will remember Ian & Sylvia, a pretty well-known folk-country duo who had several hits and proved influential to a number of rock musicians. The duo became part of the cult-legendary band Great Speckled Bird, an ensemble fated to come and go quickly due to the usual record company shenanigans, after which the duet re-emerged, then quitting performing in 1974, soonafter divorcing.

It was while Tyson and wife were establishing themselves early on that he wrote the song, Four Strong Winds, that CBC (Canadian Broadcast Company) Radio One listeners chose as the greatest Canadian song of all time. Thereafter, he was nominated as the Greatest Canadian but didn't quite make it. Still…quite an honor twice over.

Mention Gordon Lightfoot on *any* CD and I'm all over it. This one has not only him but Jennifer Warnes, Tom Russell, Chris Hillman, a number of well-known performers and one or two very surprising to hear again. David Rea, for instance, was a buddy of Leslie West & Felix Pappalardi, co-writing a Mountain song or two, thereafter neglected for his solo LPs. He returns to cover the title song here in moody reminiscence. Blue Rodeo turns in a killer version of the aforementioned Four Strong Winds, leading off the 15 cuts, and Lightfoot trots out Red Velvet in his inimitable style, making the tune absolutely his. Cindy Church's Range Delivery is a bouncy cover with a little surprise: Tyson joins the backing vocals, the only appearance he makes in the tribute. His Speckled Bird compeers Amos Garrett and Buddy Cage put in their two cents worth, one cut each, Cage sitting in with Circus in Flames on the classic Someday Soon in a much hoarser coarser version than you're used to hearing, dry and dusty as pueblo noon. It's a scintillatingly morose take, much sadder than the original, Doug Andrew delivering rural tones and wistful knowingness in a been-there-done-that-dammit voice. Cage's steel guitar is understated, becoming the perfect complement. In a welter of excellent renditions, this is the stand-out, not for its excellent composition but rather the moving interpretation. Then catch the gorgeous closing instrumental Moondancer, kinda like a mid-western Albatross (Fleetwood Mac), and float away.

One of the better moves I made in the last year or so was to begin reviewing for FAME, as it's proven to be an excellent locale for delving into the best of what's available in the slowly refining and modernizing country-folk-bluegrass scene, a style that is somehow managing to maintain its roots better than most any other available. This CD's only one of many superb discs I've been able to absorb, re-informing an affinity that had been too long slumbering. About the only criticism I have for The Gift is that I would've really loved to have heard a cut covered by the leader of a nearly forgotten group contemporary to Ian & Sylvia and Great Speckled Bird: Iain Matthews of Matthews Southern Comfort. Few have ever been able to get that maximum mellow country-folk vibe or more beautiful group vocals than him. Such an appearance would have bookended Blue Rodeo masterfully.

- Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange


Discography

The Gift: A Tribute to Ian Tyson - Doug Andrew's contribution of 'Someday Soon'
A Little Bit of Gasoline - Doug Andrew
The Circus in Flames - Doug Andrew and The Circus in Flames
This Evolution - Shanghai Dog
Clanging Bell - Shanghai Dog

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Bio

In a career that started in punk rock in the early 1980's, over the years Doug Andrew has shared the stage with everyone from the Ramones to Raffi to Ramblin' Jack Elliott. Beginning with bands like Shanghai Dog (2 vinyl releases: 1984's Clanging Bell EP & 1985's This Evolution LP) he has continued to write songs and is today recognized as an accomplished singer-songwriter respected by critics, peers and music fans alike.

His latest CD, A Little Bit of Gasoline, recorded with his band The Circus In Flames and released in late 2006, has drawn rave reviews, being hailed as "Brilliant. 9 out of 10" by Americana UK. It follows The Circus in Flames self-titled debut disc which was described by Dirty Linen as "a strong argument for indie release of the year" in addition to earning four stars from America's All Music Guide. As well, C.B.C. Radio has nationally broadcasted the band in concert and has consistently aired both CDs on a number of programs.

Most recently, The Circus In Flames joined such artists as former Byrd Chris Hillman, Blue Rodeo, Gordon Lightfoot and Jennifer Warnes on The Gift: A Tribute To Ian Tyson released by Stony Plain Records and distributed by Warner Music. The group was honoured to welcome legendary steel guitarist Buddy Cage (New Riders Of The Purple Sage, Great Speckled Bird, Bob Dylan's Blood On The Tracks) onto their version of the Tyson classic, Someday Soon, which the Toronto Star chose as the Top Track after rating the album 3½ out of 4 Stars.

Andrew formed The Circus In Flames in the mid-90's when asked to perform at a friend's St. Patrick's Day bash. It has since grown to include various players, frequently touring Western Canada, appearing at several folk and music festivals and garnering critical acclaim. The group's "unique but rooted musical vision" (Vue Weekly) has inspired the description "garage string band" but its sound can be difficult to pin down. Although there is a certain familiarity about the music, stemming from its roots in traditional country, folk, and blues, at its heart are Andrew's songs. Their "slightly twisted, always interesting storyline lyrics" are delivered "with an energetic thrust that falls just shy of reckless abandon" says Peter North of The Edmonton Journal. He is "an untapped talent for wryly observant story-like essays" writes The Vancouver Province's Tom Harrison while Warren Footz of See Magazine says Andrew's songs "should shuffle him off into the Canadian musical songwriting hierarchy". They stand on their own, performed solo on guitar, or can work within the context of a band.

"Sheet metal country," Doug Andrew describes the music. "It bangs and rattles and booms, generally making a fair amount of noise, but it can also be light and quiet. It can go from sounding like a runaway locomotive thundering down the mountain without any brakes, to a wind slipping through the forest at midnight."