Glen David Andrews taking it day by day, tonight with Amanda Shaw.
Glen David Andrews has had to make so many changes in his life that for tonight's gig with Amanda Shaw at d.b.a., he refers to himself as "GDA 2.0." He's back in his regular Monday night slot at d.b.a., but since he has returned from a three-month stint in rehab, he is more focused on his music and has laid off crowd-surfing and similar theatrics when he performs. He has made changes to his band to put some distance between himself and temptation, and he has changed how he drinks during a show. "Twenty-two bottles of water last Monday onstage instead of 6 Wild Turkeys."
Andrews and Shaw have always seemed like an unlikely musical duo, as her music focuses on Cajun and country roots with a slightly commercial edge while he revels in the Treme songbook and performance styles, often presenting New Orleans music in its most hardcore form.
"Glen is so much fun to play with," Shaw says. "He has so much energy and I love sharing that energy and stage with him and the audience." The two have bonded over the fun they have performing together whether at d.b.a., French Quarter Fest or Jazz Fest, and Andrews values the way Shaw and her family stood by him during and since his time in rehab. This is their first show together since he returned to performance, and it's a holiday show that benefits Covington Head Start, a non-profit organization that helps with early childhood development. Shaw has beome close to the school since her family adopted a child with cerebral palsy who attends it, and those who come to the show are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy for children who attend the center.
Andrews is working to get his life under control. He has had a history of battling with addiction, a battle that got away from him in recent years. "Heroin is like Satan's cup of coffee," he says. "You have to get loaded to take a shit, to tell your girl you love her, all of that." In late July, he checked himself into a three-month rehab facility in Connecticut after being arrested for his part in a domestic disturbance with his girlfriend. He doesn't shy away from recognizing his role in what happened, but he's trying to move forward. There are things he maintains he didn't do, but "I can stand up honestly and say, 'I did that in my addiction,'" Andrews says. "I did that, but I didn't do that."
At some point, he knew that his heroin addiction was affecting his music. "The Three Muses record came out in my opinion ot well at all," Andrews says. "I heard the reality of what was going on on the recording and it wasn't well at all."
Now, he's bringing the same intensity he has onstage to his efforts to stay sober. As much as he loves the Treme, there is too much temptation there for him to visit it in anything but the most quick-strike way. He keeps his sober coach nearby - at least as close as a phone call - and is considering paying to take him on tour with him. He remains musically ambitious, playing his usual show at d.b.a. and a traditional jazz set at Three Muses, and he's planning a new album with guest spots - he hopes - by Pete Fountain, George Wein, Wendell Eugene, and Dave Bartholomew. "It's a traditional jazz jazz record, and these are people I idolize," Andrews says.
As part of his therapy, Andrews now works out regularly, and the day we meet, he rode his bike to Frenchmen Street from New Orleans East, and he planned to ride to Gentilly before following the lakeshore back out east. He has been told not to make plans, to keep things day-to-day, but he can't help but think about Soberfest - a family-oriented alcohol-free event performed by musicians in recovery. "That's the only thing I have planned besides doing a benefit for Right Turn [his rehab program] before Jazz Fest. If I work on doing a festival with you, I practice, I do two records, I worry about my old lady - that's how I become complacent about staying sober."
"I really want to leave the persona of Glen David Andrews onstage," he says. "I credit that to Woody Giessmann of The Del Fuegos. He told me, 'The days of hanging out in the barroom are over. You work there; you don't hang there.' My life went from 250 miles per hour to 60, and I've got to take 20 more miles off that."
Shaw has gone through some changes as well, though hers are far less dramatic. She has signed with Catherine Enny and the San Francisco-based Guerrilla Management. "She is pretty awesome with some really great and creative ideas," Shaw says. Enny booked Shaw to play a number of California festivals and events to develop a West Coast following.
Enny has also connected Shaw with Spearhead's Michael Franti, Matthew Gerrard, Vince Pizzinga and Keeley Hawkes to write songs for an upcoming album. Good Southern Girl, her 2010 album, was a one-off with Poorman Mayfield, so she and her manager are looking for label deals.
Where others see Andrews as part of a musical family or a representative of a musical heritage, she bonds with him over something simple and immediate. "It comes from the love of music and sharing that love onstage with the participation of audience members," she says. "It is always incredible to me how that place can start to rock on a Monday night!"