Andy Cohen grew up in a house with a piano and a lot of Dixieland Jazz records, amplified after a while by a cornet that his dad got him. At about 15, he got bitten by the folk music bug, and soon got to hear records by Big Bill Broonzy and the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, both of which reminded him of the music he grew up to. At 16, he saw Rev. Gary Davis, and his course was set. He knew he had it in him to follow, study, perform and promote the music of the southeast quadrant, America¹s great musical fountainhead. Although he's done other things- a certain amount of writing, and physical labor from dishwashing and railroading to archaeology, playing the old tunes is what he does best.
Unlike ballads, which tell a connected story, blues songs are said to be 'episodic', a series of events happening to the narrator that may or may not be related, but which bear on the narrator's fate from different directions. How the blues form was shaped in the hands of Memphis bluesmen and women matters to the subsequent history of the form, since so many Memphians and Mississippians landed in Chicago.
Early practitioners like Frank Stokes ('He could write a song about anything, I don't care if it was your foot!') and Memphis Minnie ('She could play as good as any man', meaning really, she could play twice as better) set high standards of presentation, musicianship and showmanship. Andy's program focuses on them and people who came up with them.
Andy will perform at Coffeyville Community College on April 16th as part of the Humanities Project. The public is invited to the 10:30 a.m. Tuesday humanities performances at CCC. The performances are free and held in the Spencer/Rounds Performing Arts Theatre.
For more information about the humanities project at CCC, please call 620-251-7700, ext. 2166.