In the My Spilt Milk podcast, New Orleans trumpet player Glen David Andrews talks about live with and without drugs.
Some interviews are easier than others. Glen David Andrews, for instance. Get him started and he'll take it from there. We talked for more than an hour before Christmas outside Cafe Rose Nicaud on Frenchmen Street, and all I needed to do was get out of the way and let him lay out his truth. I asked a few questions including some about the upcoming gig he was doing with Amanda Shaw, but I listened a lot more.
Our interview came after John Swenson and Keith Spera had both written stories on Andrews' return to performing after a three-month stint in rehab. Both stories are strong, but my one nagging doubt in both cases is that they took a recovering addict at his word - in this case, one who had proclaimed that he had cleaned up before. I don't want to diminish Andrews' recovery or Swenson or Spera's stories, but both stories had a tone of triumph over adversity that seemed like it should have been a little more provisional, with "for now" attached to a lot of sentences.
In our conversation, Andrews talks frankly about the sort of attention he has to pay to his efforts to stay sober. It has forced him to rearrange almost every aspect of his life. On the day we met, he rode his bike to Frenchmen from his sister's house in New Orleans East, and he planned to swing out to Gentilly before heading home.
Getting sober has affected his approach to making music, but it hasn't changed Andrews' core intensity or impulsiveness. When I mentioned that I had met his sober coach - The Del Fuegos' Woody Geissman - when he played drums for a great band from Kansas called The Embarrassment more than 30 years ago, Andrews immediately called Geissman's voicemail and handed me the phone.
In today's interview, there are more edits than I like. They happen for a number of reasons - in one case, he mentions people in ways they might not want to be mentioned, and in another, Clarke Peters from Treme stops to talk on his way into and out of the coffee shop.
Andrews has always been a lightning rod. When we ran an interview with him in Backtalk at OffBeat in 2008, it inspired some really hostile commentary on Facebook that seemed to be more about him in general than anything he said. Sitting with him on Frenchmen Street was a reminder that he is also beloved. Not only did Peters stop to talk, but you'll hear on the tape many well-wishers, and others simply waved as they rode by.