By TERRI LEE FATOUROS
Every so often I’m blown away with the extraordinary talent of an individual musician or a band. Recently, my mind was set ablaze with The Andy Layfield Sound, gigging at Musicland in Fawkner.
Musicland is definitely worth the drive as the place is pure band/music oriented. You’ve got a decent-sized stage boasting professional lighting and awesome sound with superb video recording/cameras set up. The flashing coloured lights sync with the songs. Darkened atmosphere with seating in nooks and crannies up stairs and downstairs stool and chairs scattered under specially designed shanties create a miniature live concert feel. There’s a good sized bar with adjoined concrete beer garden/smoking area, comfy band room and a decent sized music shop sectioned off by a large glass wall just inside the entrance.
Musicland is huge. Out the back in a sound proof room boasting a smaller, intimate stage with focused lighting is The Hume Blues Club ran by Sam Salzone, offering cool blues with jazz overtones every Thursday night.
Musicland is definitely worth hitting up for a visit. Contact Cathy Rohotas, the owner if you want to showcase your band or go and enjoy the ambience and music. Mobile: 0412587587.
So let’s break down the Andy Layfield Sound.
You’ve got the very humble and rather shy Andy Layfield, songwriter, acoustic/electric guitar, lead vocals and harmonica. Peter Ryan’s superb unassumingly confident keys, sax and back up vocals. John Kacar’s intuitive yet powerful bass line and back up vocals. Greg Hayward’s driven groove topped with precise stops, slightly attacking rim shots, short fluid fills with exceptional yet not over done accents on drums.
These guys are the real deal. Their sound is tight polished and seasoned, and they all wear cool hats and stylish gear. They definitely look and sound the part.
Although Layfield’s music is blues-based, his bent is playing distinctive riffs and grooves with funky jive overtones and variable tempos. His songs are solid and repeat themselves in your head, and you’ll find yourself humming catchy little riffs days later.
The group’s two albums, Change My Hat and Mad Time absolutely must-have. These albums rival top international bands, I kid you not, and part of the reason they sound so good is ex-Channel 9 sound guru, Steve Vertigan of Soggy Dog Recording Studio.
In fact, the albums reached no 3 in The Australian Blues and Roots charts, and have achieved international airplay in the UK, Europe and USA, resulting in discussions for a world tour. I have to say, that’s rather impressive for an Aussie band playing entirely original tunes!
Layfield’s story isn’t a typical one either. At the late age of 16 he picked up a guitar and started playing, which eventually led to gigs in rock bands. With the wild fervour of youth, naivety and mixing with the wrong crowd on his side, he tried his hand with a PA audio hire business, getting burnt in the process. However, with fate shining upon him, he met his wife to be, Bronwen, settled down with guitar still in hand, and concentrated on raising a young family, putting his passion for music on hold for 15 years.
Luckily for us, a good mate of Layfield’s offered him a gig in 2007, enticing him to start playing seriously again. Thus, Andy Layfield was reborn.
But from 2007 to 2012 he played acoustic rock, not feeling all that happy about it. Then two sliding-door moments occurred for him. The first was a conversation with Paul Meaney, a famous jingle writer for several decades up until the late ‘90s. He said, “Why do you keep re-arranging other people’s songs. Why don’t you just write your own?” He hasn’t looked back.
The second watershed moment was meeting with Geoff Achison at a time when he felt confident in ditching the rock’n’roll covers. Achison said, “If you really want to play and feel passionate about playing blues, then just do it!
“I really believe that if you free people up to be creative, then they achieve so much more. It’s loving the finer things in life that remind us how good it is to be alive and to be human and to enjoy music, art, food, new experiences, quality relationships and so forth. Good music sends a tingle down your spine… it’s about passion, emotion, and improvisation. It’s not about perfection.”
And that’s exactly what The Andy Layfield Sound does; sends tingles down your spine. It’s possible that in the not-too-distant future, other bands may very well want to play covers of The Andy Layfield Sound.
Do yourself a favour and check them out – they’re awesome. Make sure you’re cashed up as I can guarantee you’ll want to buy both of their albums. Particularly Mad Time – it’s world class.
Seaford Hotel, 11th March, 8.30pm
Heritage in Balnarring, 3rd April, 3pm
Davies Soul Train Frankston, 10th April, 5pm