Andy Baylor was born in Melbourne in 1954 and is a respected and influential Australian musician known for his multi-instrumental skills, songwriting and versatility. Andy’s early life was spent living in St Kilda with his father, Jack Freeman, a leading social realist Artist before eventually settling with his mother,politician Gracia Baylor, in the small mountain town of Healesville.
Early lessons on violin and singing in church choirs led Andy to an interest in music which blossomed in the late 1960’s with the Beatles, Dylan and other rock music icons.He moved past mainstream rock’n’roll and pop music when he was introduced to records by Lightnin’ Hopkins, Fats Waller, Django Reinhardt and other legendary blues,folk and jazz artists of the “pre-Beatles world”.“When I heard these musicians, I knew there was something else, something deeper than the pop music on the radio.This happened pretty quickly for me and by the early 1970’s I was immersing myself in the roots of popular music and flying an ‘alternative’ flag”
In the heady days of Melbourne’s busy music scene in the 70’s and 80’s, Andy was a key figure in the formation of several popular bands such as the jump blues band, The Honeydrippers (pre-dating the band of the same name formed in the mid 80’s by Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant) and the much-loved Western Swing band, The Dancehall Racketeers.Both of these bands were hard-working touring bands who introduced many different styles of music to Australian audiences.
After freelancing, touring and supporting many leading American musicians, the 90’s saw Andy forming his Cajun Combo with the famous Daddy Cool rhythm section – drummer Gary Young and bassist Wayne Duncan, plus guitarist Sam Lemann. The impetus for this band was a long trip to USA in late ‘80’s where Andy came into first-hand contact with Cajun music of Louisiana.The mix of Southern blues, funky rhythms, hot fiddle and Australian bar-room music resulted in residencies at many Melbourne venues, several best-selling CDs, and assured Andy’s reputation as a leading musician in the Blues and Roots trend that was emerging.
Through the 1990’s and well into the millennium Andy continued to produce a string of well-received original CD’s starting with “The Bush Is Full Of Ghosts” 1994 ( see discography) and worked with a who’s-who of Australian music. He toured the USA several times studying and performing , completed a Master’s Degree at RMIT on playing Cajun music in Australia –Possum Stole The Pumpkin, worked in theatre with Richard Frankland’s Charcoal Club , played blues bars, performed at festivals and further developed his voice as a songwriter. Andy was also a member of chart-topping funk,jazz band Banana Oil.
In 2012 Andy released ‘Reel of Joy’- a CD of jukebox favourites, crossing genres from Cajun to Blues and Country and, in response to troubling times for independent artists in the music business, took a break from recording to focus on music study,painting and writing .In 2018, ‘back on the horse’ ,so to speak, Andy released Blues From The Irene Building– a collection of original blues-inspired music recorded in a Brunswick warehouse. This album topped the independent blues and roots airplay charts over summer 2018/19 and in late 2019 Andy released brand new CD release with the Banksia Band – The Old Southern Line. This album presented a polished, eclectic sound drawing on Andy’s vast experience in the field of ‘ roots music’ styles-country ballads, folk fiddle music, blues, and world music exotica. The Banksia Band features a sweet string sound with fiddles, violas, mandolins played by Sophia Dunne, Kate Connor, Sam Lemann with Andy on surf, jazz electric guitar,fiddle and vocals. This formidable front line is driven along with percussionist/producer Denis Close’s percussion and Sharky Ramos’ masterful jazz drumming plus the bass of Kain Borlaise.
2020 finds Andy Baylor still cooking up songs and tunes in isolation and enthusiastically anticipating a new album – The Other Side -a way forward for art and music in Australia.