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Andrew Calhoun

TIGER TATTOO (Waterbug) • Andrew Calhoun

A great work that reminded me why I once wanted to be a folk singer.

Andrew Calhoun is not trying to be cute, he's not trying to be funny, he's not even trying to be clever. He's not a wannabe rocker or a pop star with an acoustic guitar. He's just real as rain, and bright as the sun. And good as gold.

He makes an impression on you with the strength of his quiet character. I'd driven from Nashville to Portland the day after the terrorist attack with brother Jon, as his daughter Grace was going into labor. There were no flights the day after 9/11, so we drove there in 48 hours, and somehow arrived in time for the birth. I took the opportunity to drop in on an old friend, Phil Garfinkel, who now works with Audix microphones. There was a little party going on, for Mary Kate's birthday. Andrew was there, and Claire Bard, and I took a liking to them and settled into their company. His reputation preceded him; Annie Gallup's quiet praise had already placed him in the small pantheon of greats. He was there with his close friends Tracy Grammer and Dave Carter. The last two songs on this beautiful record are in memory of his friend Dave, a great soul now lost to us.

"Goin' Down to See John Prine" alone would be worth the price of admission, and I hope John hears it. (I may walk it down to Oh Boy Records myself.) But there are many more, especially the remarkable "When I Have Arms Again," "Fred's Brother," and "I Shall Not Look Away." I well recall Andrew's rendition of the title song that night when we swapped some songs.

The spirit of remembrance bade me track Phil down. He was working in D.C. for the Columbus Day show of Little Feat, where many stars would guest and the entire Waiting for Columbus album would be reprised. Phil said that during the recording of Tiger Tattoo, the studio was vandalized and much of the gear stolen, and much of it had to be started over.

This is great, in depth songwriting without artifice or pretense. Andrew Calhoun is touring in support of Tiger Tattoo, watch for him in your town, and buy it from Waterbug Records, a label he started in 1992 with the highest standards. • FG

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