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Worcester’s Andy Cummings Offers a New Take on Classic Sounds

Saturday, January 05, 2013


When he was just 10 years old, Worcester's Andy Cummings says he wanted to be one of three things when he grew up: a major league baseball player, a superhero, or a musical entertainer.

 "The third option seemed the least impossible," he jokes. Indeed, this dream has shown itself to be not only possible, but has come to fruition, as he now entertains listeners across Worcester and Central Mass with his own unique brand of American popular music, "Americana" as some call it.

He describes this style as "pretty much cover[ing] a bit of everything." This includes "bits of jazz, blues, country, folk, and rock and roll."

His recently released first album, entitled Backyard Superhero, produced by Dorian Gatej, is a perfect representation of the sound he tries to get across.

"It's not a rock album as such, though there are a couple of rock songs on it. It has an overall jazzy, folk, country feel to it. It's a mainly acoustic, Americana type of affair. It's a good representation of my overall sound."

Cummings grew up listening to the classics of the 50's, such legendary musicians as Frank Sinatra, Buddy Holly, Bobby Darin, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Roy Orbison and Chuck Berry, and their continued influence on his sound is palpable.
 "Some would call it old school, I prefer to call it classic," he says of his chosen genre.

"I've always loved rock bands from the 60's and 70's like The Who, The Beatles and The Beach Boys, but when I play I always feel more like a musician from the 50's. I can't explain why I'm just most comfortable with that vibe. It just feels natural."

Indeed it all just comes naturally. Cummings considers music his “calling.” In other words, it was never truly his choice, but a pre-ordained destiny.

 "It's a tough way to make a living but playing music is all I ever wanted to do. I don't feel right doing anything else.  I feel it's what I'm supposed to be doing here."

The way Cummings writes his music reflects this feeling. The sound and the lyrics don't necessarily come from a place of pure reason, but from the gut or simple vibes. In other words, like his interest in music itself, it's all about natural instinct.

" I try to follow my instincts and not second guess myself too much. I usually finish a song without too much revision. When it's done and I've played it dozens of times then new things will just happen. Maybe new a phrasing, chord change, or lyric."

On tour, Cummings routinely plays with two other musicians: double bassist Geoff Watson-Oehling and drummer J.D. Foster. Cummings takes care of the guitars and vocals. Together they are called Swingabilly Lounge, and they all have the same passion for the style of music they chose to embrace.

"I call them Swingabilly Lounge because it's uncanny how versatile they are at helping to keep me in that place," he says of his fellow musicians.

"Too many players feel the need to update the old sounds, but we embrace them. I'm using the guys more and more whenever I can. Half the time I'm still playing solo acoustic, but I'm trying to work more with them at this point."

But whether Cummings is playing alone or with a band, he hopes his listeners get the same thing out of a live performance.

"My ultimate goal with all of it is to make people happy. That's what I believe entertainment is. It's nice to be part of the soundtrack of the galaxy."

But, of course, Cummings also finds something in it for himself.

"I try to make myself happy too. It's a difficult balance sometimes, but I find  fulfillment in entertaining others. When they're happy, I'm happy. Usually." 

The future looks bright for Cummings, and there is no indication that his musical calling will wither anytime soon, and neither will his passion for the art. He has found his niche in the universe.

He hopes to keep "refining my little corner of the universe," he says, and "continue building an audience and adding to my ever-expanding repertoire of songs."

You can be entertained by Andy Cumming at Nick's Bar and Restaurant in Worcester every Sunday night and look out for him performing at venues across Central Mass.

To learn more about Cummings or to listen to some his music, visit his website or find him on Facebook. 


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