Video Feature & Web-Exclusive Interview


Video:  “The End of a World 


Andy Gullahorn was a Kerrville New Folk Winner in 2010 and was a runner-up at the 2009 Rocky Mountain Folks Festival. After graduating from Belmont University in Nashville, Gullahorn spent a number of years as a staff writer for publishing companies while playing guitar on the road for singer/songwriter Jill Phillips (who he happened to be married to). Since 2005, he’s released 4 solo albums and a Christmas album with Phillips.

Andy Gullahorn will be featured at the Blue Rock aLive! Cool Nights 2020 virtual concert series this Thursday, December 3. The series is “for the songs, for the artists, for all of us.” You can buy a Season Pass for only $105—and have a seat in the house by sending in your headshot. They will place the large headshot on a seat, so you will literally be sitting in the room.

Blue Rock’s innovation, quality and creativity is evidenced in concerts produced with broadcast quality audio-video from their renowned Texas room—streamed straight to you. Individual tickets can also be purchased for $25:

Andy Gullahorn’s songs transport the listener on a journey where they can visualize and feel the emotions of his lyrics.We talked with him about how a well of songs can spring out of a songwriting drought, how he has focused on the immediate world around him, how he remains hopeful and hopes to help others make sense of the confusion of these times and how he has come to realize it’s the small things that matter and everything is as it should be.

with M Music & Musicians magazine publisher, Merlin David

Tell us the story behind a song you’ll play at Blue Rock’s Cool Nights 2020.
I wrote the song “Village” after Hurricane Harvey affected many people. I lived in the Houston area. I was kind of paralyzed—unsure of how to help. Writing this song helped move me out of my paralysis by paying attention to the world around me. I visited Houston and was so inspired when I saw the millions of ways neighbors were helping each other. It reminded me that even when things seem so out of control and hopeless, we can still do small things out of love for the community around us. There are still many ways that the world seems too big to change. This song challenged me to start with changing the space around me. On a good day, I think I can rise to the challenge.

How did the idea of “The End of the World” come to you?
I wrote it after witnessing a tragic incident that ended with the loss of a beautiful 3-year-old daughter of good friends. I remember driving home that evening and my own young daughter asked me how people could be walking down the street—smiling, as if nothing horrible just happened. I thought of all the normal, every-day actions that seemed profane in the light of the tragedy and suffering that we had just encountered. This song was, among other things, my way of wrestling with the questions surrounding that kind of suffering. It was a difficult song to write. I spend a lot of time trying not to feel. I would just get stuck. But I kept going back to the thought my daughter said. It’s important to let yourself feel something when you write.

What did you learn about yourself after recording Everything as It Should Be?
Most of the songs from this record came after my own songwriting drought of 2016. I wondered if I was going to write another song again. I kept trying to write big songs that would heal the world and I just couldn’t do it. The songs on this record taught me that I don’t have to heal the world. There is real value in focusing on the immediate world around me—and just trying to make a difference here. If there is a life-changing song, it will happen by accident.

Andy Gullahorn’s songs transport the listener on a journey where they can visualize and feel the emotions of his lyrics.

Tell us about one of your newer songs “Small Things Matter.”
I wrote it thinking about the important things I wanted to instill in my son before sending him off to college. It was inspired by a routine I have of walking a mile and a half every week to give a friend a high five. We kind of started doing it as a joke, but it has turned into a really rich experience in my life. Somehow, we have been doing this walk every week now for the past 6 1/2 years and it has meant so much to our friendship. With this song, I wanted my son to know that there is great purpose in being faithful in the small things and routines in life.

Who originally inspired you to write songs?
I grew up listening to country and folk music. Some of my favorite songwriters, when I really started paying attention to songs, were John Gorka and Hugh Prestwood. Not long after I started writing songs, someone introduced me to the music of David Wilcox. I was immediately attracted to the way he could tell a story while encouraging personal growth and healing through the song. I remember thinking that was what I wanted to do when I grow up. It is still what I want to do when I grow up. (Laughs)

What songwriting tip would you like to offer?
I’m not the best at daily routine writing. After the drought, I had to put a guitar in my path—walk by the guitar so that I had to play it. One of my favorite songwriting tips came from David. He told me not to write just about who I was but to “write into who I want to become.” I think of it as letting the song pave the way in front of me in the direction that I would love to go. So when I want to be a better friend, I write a song as if I was that better friend. It gives me something to aspire to.

What instruments/equipment can you not live without?
I bought my Larrivee C-10 acoustic guitar back when I was in college and have used it to play on every record I have ever recorded—even when playing for anyone else. I have owned a number of Larrivee guitars and have always been a huge fan of them. This C-10 is by far my favorite guitar I have ever played. When I am on the road, I love using my LR Baggs Venue and Baggs pickups. I love how they keep the natural sound of the guitar—like you’d hear if you have your ear against the guitar. You don’t have to use a lot of EQ. I also love using my Ear Trumpet Edwina mic for certain live shows.

What about accessories?
Kyser Capos are easy to use and reliable—they hold the tuning well. I play in open tunings, a lot. I change turning almost after every song. Kysers are just so easy to use. They have always lasted for me and they do the job. I’ve used D’Addario Strings for a long time. I have a Rode NTK mic and a couple of Audio-Technica 4033s. I use Pro Tools, Mackie reference monitors and Sennheiser HD 280 headphones.

Which Top 5 Musicians inspired you to become a musician?
David Wilcox, Pierce Pettis, John Gorka, James Taylor, Neil Finn.

What is it about Pierce Pettis that inspires you?
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better lyricist than Pierce. The angle he takes—so beautifully done. It’s honest and comes straight from his heart. Gorka and Wilcox are the same.

What are your Top 5 favorite albums of all time?
Big Horizon (1994) — David Wilcox
Marc Cohn (1991) — Marc Cohn
Try Whistling This (1998) — Neil Finn
Almost and Always (2009) — David Mead
Bachelor No. 2… (2000) — Aimee Mann

Tell us a “pinch me” moment when you thought “Wow, this is really happening to me!
I have already written a lot about David Wilcox, but I have to say that every time we write together, play shows together or just share a meal together is a “pinch me” moment. Calling him a friend is one of the great gifts of my life. Also, getting to play some events with one of the nicest guys in Nashville, Vince Gill, is amazing. He is one of the most talented people I have ever encountered and is even more kind and generous.

What is the best advice someone has given you?

I was lucky enough to do a few events with author Eugene Peterson. He spent most of his life as a pastor of a small church. He helped teach me that small things really matter. I have always felt connected and comfortable with more intimate show environments where I could engage with the people who came to listen, but felt like I should have the drive to outgrow such things and expand my reach.

The best advice you’d like to give upcoming musicians?

Find what makes you come alive as an artist and don’t compare it to someone else’s dream. There is room enough in the world for all of us to bring our own unique gifts.

How do you remain hopeful in this strange and unique socio-political time?
It is certainly difficult, but I feel I am especially equipped to carry hope through this kind of time. As a self-employed musician for the last 20+ years, there have been many lean years and many changes in the industry. I recorded my first record on 2-inch tape. A good part of my income used to be from physical CD sales. Part of being a musician has required being able to adapt to new situations. Being a traveling singer-songwriter is the most non-essential job on the hierarchy of essential workers. That’s okay. But I am finding that it isn’t as non-essential as some people might imagine. During times like these, we all need artists in this world to help make sense of the confusion, suffering and grieving—and to build a bridge across the divisions. Although the immediate future is uncertain, I am not anxious about it. I couldn’t stop wanting to write songs even if I tried. There are many generous people out there who care enough to make sure that artists can survive through these difficult days.

Where can new fans get more info and stay updated?

Instagram: @andygullahorn

Twitter: @AndyGullahorn



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