Andy Dale Petty

Published on October 1st, 2018

Andy Dale Petty

“I find myself very influenced by the weather and the seasons,” says modern troubadour Andy Dale Petty.  “A certain song emerges when you’re driving in the blinding rain and snow. A very different one comes through when its spring in a vegetable garden.

“My year usually revolves around touring with music,” Petty continues in a talk with PureHoney, “working short-term labor jobs, growing food, sleeping outside as much as possible.”

Born in Alabama and betrothed to the four winds, this young folk musician with a curled mop of hair and an earnest smile is an anachronism, in the good way, in an era that has forgotten its roots in the rush to technology — forgotten what the soil feels like.

Petty cites Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie and Big Bill Broonzy as early musical discoveries at his local shop, the late Sunburst Records in Huntsville, Ala.; at flea markets and antique stores he visited as a boy with his aunts; and in his exposure, he says, to “old instruments like zithers and accordions as well as old tintypes and farm tools.”

He bought his first Kay banjo, which he considers “the rawest of all the stringed instruments,” at age 15.

On Petty’s latest, “Frick’s Lament,” from 2015, he distills old-world transience into 12 fully-realized tracks of Americana that run the folk-canon gamut from Appalachian-styled numbers to story-driven ramblers to ethereal instrumentals. But the work isn’t nostalgia so much as a re-envisioning.

“I’d like to think of myself as a somewhat modernized human preforming a collection of songs taken out of my life on stringed instruments,” he says. “My songs are about dreams, characters, places, memories.”

This auteur of American primitive has also found audiences abroad — and the serendipity that calls to every wanderer. Touring not long ago in Italy’s Veneto region, Petty landed at Outside Inside Analog Recording Studio in Montebelluna and worked surrounded by antique instruments and tape machines.

A key to Petty’s musical life is the seeming lack of planning or long-term concern — a devotion to his art that further cements his image as a vagabond, but again, in a good way.

Andy Dale Petty performs with Phase and Haute Tension on October 9 at Voltaire in West Palm Beach. ~ Abel Folgar

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