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andi and i days

Back in the states, we played a few songs here and there for church, work functions, and to amuse our ferrets. We inadvertently became what is now andi and i when we went to test out a new sound system for a friend. The friend was Darcy Greder, and she was starting up the Blue Moon Coffeehouse at Illinois Wesleyan University, our alma mater. Darcy gave us our first real gig, during the Blue Moon’s first season.

That first performance was almost all covers of other people’s songs, with two that Al wrote. The show went well enough that the audience demanded an encore. This was a problem because we’d played all the songs we’d learned. As Darcy hollered, “I don’t care if you repeat a song, you’ve got to come back out. This is pandemonium!” we decided we could pull off Randy Stonehill’s “Weight of the Sky.” Great song, a capella, and a nice ending to the evening. It was quite a first gig.

We continued performing around the Bloomington-Normal area, but moved to Chicago in 1995, partly to pursue music more intentionally. It was a difficult transition at first. Al recollects, “Once we got booked in a few places, we were greeted not by the hundreds or even dozens of attentive concert goers from our early days, but by a handful of people trying to talk about last night’s date or playing Jenga. We’d play our little hearts out, standing in front of the pastry display and periodically getting drowned out by the milk steamer. It was brutal . . . but we did get a good song out of it eventually.”

These experiences sharpened our music and Al’s songwriting. Having learned that people in the city don’t consider you worth their attention just because you play a guitar and stand in front of a microphone, Al concluded that we needed to give folks a reason to listen to us. His writing became more aggressive; our arrangements, tighter. And sometimes, according to Al, we became dangerous: “So we were playing at this fairly small, very loud coffeehouse, and we had a number of folks interested in what we were doing. But as often happens, there was a couple sitting right in front of us talking as loud as they could through our whole set. We were doing some song that required audience participation, and something just came over Andi. She took her mic out of her stand, stepped over to the table with the talky couple, and just WHAPPED Miss Gabby in the head. She apologized of course, and played it off like she was just bringing the mic down for the woman to sing into, but it made a terrific sound (and on the beat, too – i was proud). The audience seemed more attentive after that.”

We recorded our first CD, Days Like This, in the fall/winter of 1996. By this time, we had had the opportunity to work with some very talented musicians, but we decided that our first CD should capture the sound we began with. All the songs on Days Like This were recorded in one (long) day at a Methodist church in Evanston, IL, chosen for its acoustics and beauty. The project was completed in time for November CD released at the Garden in Evanston and the Blue Moon Coffeehouse in Bloomington, IL.

 

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Andi’s pre-Al days
Al’s pre-Andi days
They meet (just like in Pac-Man!)
Early music together
andi and i days
Life today
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