REVIEW: Short Stack/Acoustic Solution

Short Stack
 "Eclectic folk originals from consistently good family trio" By Jim Donald - Aug. 21, 2015
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     On their new release Short Stack, Acoustic Solution gives us a 5 track EP of original material that is self produced, recorded, engineered and has an original jacket design that is composed of entirely green components. 
      Acoustic Solution, a family folk rock trio with John, Wendy and Seth Andrews, has been around the coffeehouse and summer outdoor circuit since 2003 in their present form and for decades in previous iterations. Their blend of electric/acoustic folk covers and original material blends nicely with the revival of this genre in the recent past.   
     On the opening number, 'Peabody Crump,' Wendy Andrews does the vocals telling the tongue in cheek story about a showman/teacher, perhaps a little nerdy, like a cross between Bill Nye the Science Guy and Sgt Pepper. 'Bottom Line' is a love song that has universal appeal with a nice Latin beat and reggae bass. 'Suitcase And Tennis Shoes,' with Wendy on vocals, and using an octave pedal on fiddle for a cello effect, urges the listener to maintain forward progress in the face of challenge. 'Reminisce,' the final track is heavy on nostalgia, featuring Seth singing of the changes of the decades – to our hometowns, friends and the places of our lives.
      It's track 3, 'My Brother Bob,' that is the crowning jewel on this release. It's at once a Dylan tribute and satiric commentary on all those who may have met the Master, or written about him, stolen his “words” or maybe knew someone that could get them backstage during a show. Lyrics like a “girl named Sarah,” … “Zimmerman on her drivers license,” but was a real “snow job/couldn't get me into the concert to see my brother Bob” tell us what students of Dylan have long known, that, like us, he's a moving abstraction constantly shape shifting and shedding irrelevance along the way. Music and verse is pure early Dylan. I immediately thought of Just Like a Woman in the first bars but as the lyrics unfolded it took me back further to the Highway 61 Revisited stream of consciousness and then even further, evoking strains of Subterranean Homesick Blues. My Brother Bob is still runnin' around in my head.

Acoustic Solution at the Deepest Valley Theater" (review by Jim Donald) 

This video has a home movie feel with a certain wildness about it.  Hand held camera shots traveling down Hwy 395, one of the most beautiful drives anywhere, and varying degrees of wind noise from my subwoofer add rather than detract from the sense of adventure and mystery that a trip in search of the Deepest Valley Theatre entails.  It has a refined Kesey-esque quality sans the psychedelics. 

  

Acoustic Solution, a three piece family band that defies easy genre labeling, is in search of the Deepest Valley Theatre in the Alabama Hills near Lone Pine, California.   Because of good weather, proximity to Hollywood and stunning vistas, many popular movies were shot here and the Deepest Valley Theatre saw some interesting performances in the latter half of the 60’s. 

After some terrain bracketing band members find the natural amphitheater, set up and play – on the DVD – a five song set.  Entirely self produced, directed and edited, this video is a fascinating look at the band, their material and the scenery.  It’s not an easy place to play but the band performs well and manages to display their talents on multiple instruments including mandolins, guitar, violin and drums. 

The members of Acoustic Solution are talented musicians; John, with over 40 years on guitar; Wendy, mostly on violin (she also plays with the Carson City Symphony); and Seth on drums, keyboards and guitar.  Interestingly they all switch instruments frequently, sometimes every song, which lends a variety and freshness to everything they do.  And they all can sing. 

  

What they sing constantly amazes listeners as they perform covers from CSN&Y, The Grateful Dead or the Beatles among many others.  Sometimes it’s their own interpretation and often they’re true to the original.  John’s guitar on ‘Teach Your Children’ could easily fit the original and likewise ‘Franklin Towers’ is unmistakably a Jerry version.  ‘I’ve Just Seen a Face’ (Beatles, of course) sung by Seth and ‘Out of the Rain’ (the Duhks) with Wendy on vocals and violin sound great.   

They can play for hours giving audiences a good mix of originals, covers and traditional Celtic instrumental tunes.  Their flavor is decidedly folk/rock/Celtic with significant diversions into other genres. 

Acoustic Solution plays the coffeehouse/outdoor venue circuit all over northwestern Nevada and eastern California.  They have an excellent website at acousticsolutionmusic.com that lists their repertoire, upcoming shows and other information.   Catch them next time through then watch the video.  You’ll be glad you did. 

Sharlene at the Record Courier  visits with Acoustic Solution:

 Friday, January 21, 2011   -Sharlene Irete   People Editor of the Record Courier 

Playing together, staying together 

Acoustic Solution is an all-singing, all-playing family band with a collection of instruments that could fill a music store. The band is Gardnerville residents John Andrews, his wife Wendy, and John’s son Seth, who have been playing together as Acoustic Solution since 2003. 

    Whether they’re on a stage, in a coffeehouse or in an outdoor venue, Acoustic Solution creates a colorful, tie-dyed Renaissance fair-inspired set. The Andrews decorated the performance area with part of their collection of six- and twelve-string guitars, electric bass, bouzouki, keyboards, congas, mandolins, banjo, violin, drums and percussion instruments. John uses his graphic arts background to create signs and artwork for the band’s website.  

“From a visual standpoint it gives an acoustic, eclectic impression. It gives an idea of where we’re headed,” said John. 

The name of Acoustic Solution’s new CD, “Bakersfield, Ireland,” gives an idea of where the band is headed with their music - from Bakersfield to Ireland. They play folk, traditional and Celtic music, and covers by Crosby, Stills and Nash, the Allman Brothers, Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead. Their 200 to 300 song repertoire includes many of their original songs.  

The Andrews have lived in Gardnerville since 1993. John’s been a musician since he hit the road in a rock band a couple years after graduating from high school in Southern California in 1972. He played with Johnny and the Rebels at Eddie’s Fabulous ‘50s in Reno in the late ‘90’s.  

Wendy plays fiddle and mandolin, and plays violin in the Carson City Symphony. Seth is a 2002 Douglas High School graduate. He sings and plays guitar, keyboards, drums and percussion. 

And like just about any other musician, the members of the Andrews family each have at least one day job. John’s worked at G&R Environmental Services for 14 years, Seth does maintenance at Minden Emergent Care and is a licensed massage therapist, and Wendy is in charge of keeping the family business going.  

“We run Acoustic Solution as a small business,” Wendy said. “You have to consider the inflow to keep it rolling, and just like any other business, we pay taxes, which keeps the community going.” 

John said it’s the paying jobs that support the gigs they play for free. Playing in a band is a challenge from the standpoint of earning an income, so it’s important to support local arts and music.  

“We’re part of a larger group of local musicians like Beth and Larry Nair of Ten Dollar Pony, and Russell Ketenjian. “We’re happy to go out and see them,” said John. “And we’re grateful for the people who show their support of us, and to the places of business that support the arts. We like to think we’re a positive contribution to that. 

“Just like they say on the airlines, ‘You cold have flown with anyone, so thank you for flying Acoustic Solution.’”  

Besides Carson Valley and Genoa, Acoustic Solution has played in Carson City, Virginia City, Reno, Markleeville, and Lone Pine, Calif. They play 7:15-9:30p.m. Jan 28 at 88 Cups &Tea, 1663 Lucerne St. in Minden Village. 

Check out their play dates and their “Bakersfield, Ireland” CD and “Acoustic Solution at the Deepest Valley Theater” DVD at acousticsolutionmusic.com 

Music is: 

Wendy Andrews: “Music is inspiration and healing to me. I always learn something from concerts. You know your own limitations, but we can impart something. It’s an educational thing, and that’s what I like - to learn something. Music is a catalyst that brings people together to enjoy it.” 

Seth Andrews: “Music is an enjoyable outlet. It’s awesome to use music as a way to stay close together as a family. I have friends who lost touch with their parents, so I’m glad we have the way to do something as a family.” 

John Andrews: “Music is a happy means of self-expression. The creator has given us the gift of music that draws us together. We provide something where people can bring their family.” 

The Record Courier