ANDINA AND RICH – Because We Can!
Stephen Lee Rich and Sandy Andina have been sitting in on each other’s performances for some twenty years in the Chicago area. Around 1999 Rich moved to Madison and has been performing in the area ever since. Also known as “the yodeling cowboy,” Rich has finally followed through on getting an Andina and Rich recording made. Because We Can! is thirteen songs of sometimes satirical, sometimes historical, sometimes poignant and always well-crafted tunes recorded in various live settings by Mike Wiegmann. There are a number of musicians joining the couple such as Amy Curl, Ron Dennis, Doug Hamilton, Julia McConahay, Ingrid Frances Stark and Quin Stickler.
The album kicks off with the only cover, “A Fine Romance,” a song made famous in the musical of the same name, recorded by Fred Astaire in 1936. It’s a comical piece and Andina carries the melody until about halfway through when Rich takes over. It’s nearly startling how much Rich can sound like Willie Nelson at times, with that same deep, resonant voice seasoned with character. McConahay (Michigan’s Madison Greene band) turns in some exquisite fiddle tracks, especially on the gorgeous Rich composition “Time Has No Mercy.”
Rich’s compositions are especially memorable. Songs like “Mudball” and “Time Has No Mercy” have an emotional depth that rings true and a classic folk feel. “Buddy, I’m Just Sick to Death of Christmas” forays into more comical terrain and also has one of the more interesting kazoo solos ever committed to tape. Andina’s songs are in the storyteller vein, a bit more traditional in structure. Perhaps her best song, “Because We Can!,” is a send-up on the corporate world and taking it up the wazoo for The Man. “Safe Home” benefits greatly from Hamilton’s stand up bass and the interplay of the guitars in the middle section is tender and effective.
Fans of Lou and Peter Berryman might appreciate this recording, although the intellectual wit of Andina and Rich is on a different level. It’s a treasured piece for fans of these two no doubt, stretching back twenty-some years and I’m placing my bet on twenty-some more.