|Photo by Kenny King|
Today we have a video premiere from Kentuckian Andy Brasher for the song “Drugs in the Tip Jar.” It’s a tune from his debut album Myna Bird, out April 3. “Drugs in the Tip Jar” is a driving country rocker that takes a peek into the life of a touring musician, many of whom would kill for a tip jar at this moment. The song is catchy and real, with strong vocals and a healthy dose of humor and easy-going heartland rocking. Highly recommended to fans of John Mellencamp, Chris Knight, Steve Earle, and Cody Jinks.
This is a true story from my time in Nashville. I lived there in the early 2000's. When I first moved there, I was working on songwriting primarily. I focused on getting co-writes and playing open mic nights at the Bluebird and Douglas Corner Cafe, among others. I wanted to get a publishing deal. I roomed with a couple of friends in a small apartment, but, I still had to pay my part of the rent, so I'd gig as often as I could. Broadway wasn't really my thing (although I played plenty of those shows if I had to)...I'd try my best to play little neighborhood bars around Nashville.
One such place wasn't far from my apartment, so I ended up there a lot. I was glad to have a gig so close to home, but let's just say...I lived in kind of a "sketchy" neighborhood.
After my first gig at this place, I checked the tip jar and was pretty surprised. Yeah, I had a few dollar bills, a good tip or two...but I also had a little street drug store hanging out in the very bottom. You name it..."go fast", "go slow", pills, a joint...and this kept happening at that place! It led me to wonder, 'What makes them think I want this? Is it me? Is it them? Do I want this?'. Aside from encouraging me to take a little self-inventory, I thought it also warranted a song.
More about Andy under the video!
Andy Brasher - Myna Bird
Kentucky's Andy Brasher brings fresh energy to the Americana music scene through his vivid storytelling, soulfully captivating vocals and mastery of his instrument -- all of which are on full display with his stunning debut solo release, Myna Bird.
Having already headlined shows across the U.S. and internationally, Brasher’s previous band Brasher/Bogue has also shared the marquee with Tim McGraw, Kid Rock, Kenny Chesney, Hank Williams Jr., Charlie Daniels, Blackberry Smoke and many more over the course of their tenure.
Produced by Harry Lee Smith (Restless Heart, Angeleena Presley, Martina McBride) and multi-Grammy award winner Ross Hogarth (Keb’ Mo’, Shawn Colvin, REM, John Mellencamp) at Nashville’s renowned Blackbird Studios, Myna Bird is equal parts modern Americana and stone-cold country, laden with folk philosophy and clever turns of phrase. Smith & Hogarth’s expert production flourishes are apparent throughout, from the warmth of the acoustic guitars, radio-ready electric guitar tones and licks, the crack of each snare hit, to Brasher’s singular vocals nestled neatly on top of each track.
Opener “21” sets the tone for the record with soaring, reverb-tinged electric guitars layered with urgently-strummed acoustic instrumentation. It’s a vibrant tune harkening back to “the good old days” and the innocence of youth on the cusp of adulthood -- the perfect soundtrack for a windows-down weekend drive through the countryside.
Title track “Myna Bird” showcases Brasher’s introspective side, the country ballad’s title taken from the nickname his mother gave him as a child due to his ability to quickly memorize song lyrics from the radio (Brasher notes with a chuckle that she “probably meant mockingbird”). It’s also a gutting tribute to the late Wayne Mills, a legend of the honky tonk circuit, as well as a friend and a mentor to Brasher before his tragic passing.
“He spent his whole life going out there and playing music. His original music was every bit the truth...it was so great,” Brasher recalls. “But he was running himself ragged getting to and from these bars, forced to play ‘Wagon Wheel’ and ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ over and over.” Therein lies the myna bird comparison -- both artists had their own music and message to take on the road, but they end up playing the same songs everyone’s already heard in order to keep themselves on the road -- a duality of working the honky tonk circuit.
“If She Loves” also runs along the country ballad thread, a slow-burning number featuring sparse acoustic production that builds into a wall of sound led by wailing electric slide guitar. Originally intended as a love letter to Brasher’s longtime girlfriend, as it was written the song evolved into an anthem lifting up and celebrating the strength and perseverance of all women.
“Drugs in the Tip Jar” chronicles the stranger-than-fiction tale of Brasher’s early experiences playing for tips in Nashville’s honky tonks -- unexpectedly finding his tip jar filled with multiple types of contraband in lieu of cash at the end of a set. It’s a rollicking, stone-cold country song that would likely have worn out jukeboxes in years gone by.
Born and raised in Owensboro, Kentucky, music was a family affair for Brasher from an early age. After learning to play the acoustic guitar -- taught by his father and grandfather -- crafting songs became second nature for him. Brasher studied under the lyrically driven music of Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, Bob Dylan, and Guy Clark, while also taking sonic cues from rock luminaries of the era such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin, and Queen. At the age of fourteen, Andy started his first band and began performing at parties, festivals, and bars in his hometown. Through his soulful interpretation of covers as well as his original works, he built a large and loyal local following that gave him the courage to relocate to Nashville and explore the music scene. Brasher refined his skills in the Music City’s renowned honky tonks and songwriting circles, gaining wisdom through valuable life lessons along the way.
In 2009, Brasher and fellow musician Dustin Bogue recorded an album of ten songs and formed the band Brasher/Bogue. While formed as a duet, Brasher/Bogue grew into a five-piece band that began their touring career on Kenny Chesney’s 2011 “Goin’ Coastal” tour. By 2012, Brasher/Bogue had produced three albums and were a staple of the festival circuit, as well as regularly supporting top national acts.