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Resident artist McAndrew found niche in Nashville

Singer-songwriter John McAndrew may have found his creative niche in Nashville, but the Minnesota native's heart still belongs to his home state.

"I really enjoy Nashville, and being a part of the music scene there," he said Tuesday at the Historic Holmes Theatre, as he was beginning a six-day artist residency in Detroit Lakes. "But I miss Minnesota, and I always will."

McAndrew got his start in the music business by playing with country and country rock bands around the Midwest, including locally-known groups such as Steamboat Willie and Maverick.

"About 20 years ago, I started writing my own music," he said.

His love for his heritage is reflected in his music: The song "This Little Town," which will be featured in his Sunday afternoon concert at the Historic Holmes Theatre, pays homage to his childhood spent growing up in small towns around Minnesota.

"When I wrote the song -- which is 20 years old -- I had just been robbed three times within a 10-day period (while living in the Twin Cities)," McAndrew said. "I reflected on all the little towns I grew up in, where you could leave your doors unlocked and leave your bike out in the yard.

"I was inspired by wanting to go back and have that life back again. Most of my music comes from personal experiences."

That music has now filled nine albums, the first of which was recorded 12 years ago at the famed Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama, where Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and others recorded some of their biggest hits.

"I learned a lot from those guys," he said. "I've been writing music and recording and touring since then."

Another of McAndrew's songs that will be performed at Sunday's concert, "Give Me New Eyes," is on the soundtrack of the upcoming motion picture release, "Jake's Corner," starring Richard Tyson and Dianne Ladd. It was originally recorded for his most recent CD release, "Good Enough," which was produced by Ken Polk of Warner Brothers in Los Angeles.

Someday, he noted, when he writes that "big hit song," his dream is to be able to buy a lake cabin in northern Minnesota where he could spend several weeks every summer with his family, while still being able to live in Nashville during the rest of the year. "I don't miss the winters (in Minnesota) so much," he admitted.

But until he gets that lake cabin, McAndrew will still be able to keep in touch with his roots through artist residencies such as the one he's doing this week in Detroit Lakes.

"I really enjoy meeting people and working with them," he said. Part of that work includes sharing some of the more important life lessons that he's learned.

During Tuesday's session with the ALC students, he talked about the importance of "being yourself" and not letting anybody else tell you that you're not good enough.

Over the next four days, McAndrew will be working with students in local schools (Tuesday through Friday), performing for area senior citizens at St. Mary's Nursing Center (Saturday) and tonight (Wednesday), there will be an open rehearsal at the Historic Holmes Theatre for anyone who wants to join McAndrew on stage for a few songs at Sunday's concert.

"I enjoy bringing as many people as possible up here (on stage) with me," he said, as he stood on the Holmes Theatre stage following Tuesday's session with the ALC students. "There will be all kinds of little surprises for Sunday's performance."

For several weeks now, the Holmes Theatre has been advertising the opportunity to sign up for Wednesday's rehearsal in the local media. It is open to anyone in the area who would like to take part in a unique community experience. The rehearsal starts at 7 p.m. in the theater.

Tickets are now on sale for Sunday's concert, which begins at 2 p.m. in the Historic Holmes Theatre. For more information, contact the Holmes Theatre Box Office at 218-844-SHOW (7469), or visit

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454