Andy Wagner started young but over time has found great inspiration in songwriting from artists like: Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Lucinda Williams and Daniel Lanois.
“They have a special gift to transcend and take us to a different world. Still reflecting on what’s right here in front of us but looking deeper to see something the rest of us would have missed.”
“It took me a long time to piece everything together but I care equally about playing my instruments, writing lyrics and making records. The artists I admire the most do all of these things well and they find a way to reinvent themselves year after year.”
Denver, Louisville, New Orleans and Chicago have all been home to Andy, and his musical journey pays homage to all of these great American cities.
After moving away from his birth state of Colorado, Chicago would be Andy’s first stop and would prove to be fertile ground for strong roots and steady growth. It was 1998, and at age 20, Andy aligned himself with an instrumental quintet called The Tundra Survey. Together, they released one self-titled 7inch, one CD single on Day Release Records and one self-released full-length called Cracked Radiator, Bum Transmission.
The Tundra Survey lasted for two years and somewhere in there an artistic community/record label/printmaker called Tense Forms was born. While Tense Forms continued to grow, Andy moved to Louisville, KY in 2001 where he would spend the next year working on his debut solo release called Horse Year which was originally released on Tense Forms in 2003.
In 2003, Andy moved back to Chicago to reconnect with the Tense Forms community and spent the next two years playing live with his own band, and also with Casey Meehan and the Delta Still, and would make his theatre debut as a guitar player for “San Valentino and The Melancholy Kid”, with an up and coming company called The House.
A twist of fate in the summer of 2005 brought Andy to New Orleans to tour with World Leader Pretend (Warner Bros) as a piano and guitar player for their new record Punches. Highlights included two main stage appearances at the New Orlean’s Jazz Fest and an appearance on The Today Show.
Before World Leader Pretend disbanded in 2006, Andy was introduced to Theresa Andersson, and was hired to co-produce a self-titled, five song EP with her. The EP was the best selling CD at the 2006 New Orlean’s Jazz Fest and was voted as one of the top ten best releases for the year by the Times-Picayune. Andy toured with Theresa for the next year and in between tour dates, he recorded his second album called Departures which was also released on Tense Forms in 2006.
Later that year, Andy headed back to Chicago where he now currently resides. Although Tense Forms ended operations, many of its artists are still in Chicago and continue to play live and record together. It was the vision of Casey Meehan’s to form Rock Proper in 2009 to function as a net-label that offers free downloads of albums from former Tense Forms artists and more. Andy released a 6 song EP called Those Who Forgive on Rock Proper in 2009. The Wheel’s Still In Spin considered it one of the top ten EPs released that year.
Andy also maintained his relationship with The House theatre company and was the musical director for their original productions of “The Attempters” in 2008 and “All The Fame Of Lofty Deeds” (a play inspired by the music and art of Jon Langford) in 2009. The band formed for “All The Fame Of Lofty Deeds” found a great natural chemistry with each other and stayed together as Andy’s backup band for a 9 song LP titled Silos and Smokestacks released in October of 2011.
The song “Everything I Need” from Departures was used for the credits of Patrick Wang’s masterpiece film “In The Family” released in November of 2011. Andy also arranged and performed “The Valley”, also written by Patrick Wang, for the movie.