Andrew Collins brings his blend of multi-instramentalists and myriad genres – including bluegrass, folk, blues, jazz, oldtime, swing, Celtic and classical – to Oak Bay Friday.
Collins has been nominated for multiple Juno and Canadian Folk Music awards for various projects such as co-foundedCanadian bands the Creaking String Quartet, the Foggy Hogtown Boys and most recently the Andrew Collins Trio.
Collins and his cohorts play a lot of different styles of music and he draws from those when composing.
“That’s kind of what brought us together, exploring ways to push boundaries and blend all these different genres of musicthat we’ve studied. But we love songs as well and what better way to keep a show flowing,” he said.
The Andrew Collins Trio includes fellow string guru Mike Mezzatesta – a master of guitar, mandolin, fiddle and mandola.
“Between he and I we can really draw from all these different palettes which keeps the music evolving through the show, butalso offer these textures that evoke feelings and connections to the music,” he said.
Then there’s the “wonderful bass” of James McEleney, who also adds mandocello and vocals.
“For us it’s a way to draw from all these different styles of music to keep the show flowing and evolving … not everyone cansit through two sets of instrumental music.
While the album is all instrumental, a show includes vocal tunes in a bid to draw in the audience “any way we can.”
“We try to devise a show that pulls people in. I’m a little bit of a smart-ass, so hopefully the patter is entertaining as welland will bring people into the songs and stories,” Collins said.
“I really like the idea of playing music that is intellectually satisfying and all that, but it’s not just about being art for art’ssake. I take seriously that we’re trying to entertain people. The onus is on us.”
Four years along, the trio brings its second album, And It Was Good.
“Despite the fact that we don’t only do instrumental music, this is an instrumental album,” Collins said. “Each piecerepresents what happened in each day of creation, it’s kind of an acoustic creation story.
The concept album is based on a story Collins figures is fairly well-known as reaction to responses from listeners aftershows about their personal connection with the music.
“They’d come up and say random things like ‘I envisioned this purple tractor in a field,’” Collins said. “I wanted to step upthe game a bit and have a tale that is a little more accessible, something people actually know what the story is. It’s auniversal tale and I just tried to figure out a way to make it challenge my writing.”
To push himself and move forward with the music he incorporated the “psychedelic string players” dubbed thePhantasmagoria String Quartet that developed a “lush” quality to the album.
“They’re all really amazing roots music players but they’re all also classically trained,” Collins said. “When I wrote andarranged the album with the trio we worked all the material out so everything is built around the trio, but then I wrote allthese string quartet parts.
“It was a lot of work but really satisfying.”
The Andrew Collins Trio performs at the Upstairs Lounge at Oak Bay Recreation Centre, 1975 Bee St. Friday, March 31.Tickets are $20 available at beaconridgeproductions.com online, Ivy’s Bookshop and the Oak Bay Recreation Centre.