Rad Andy

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Andrew Hardy Williamson, commonly known as Rad Andy, is a contemporary NC singer/songwriter in the genres of jam, acoustic rock, bluegrass, jazz, pop and ‘anything that grooves’.  With prominent musical roots in the family, the artist performs on electric and acoustic guitar, drums, beats and bass.  He is most popularly known for his foundation of ‘Real Groove Music’, a studio, production entity, and concept of the defiance of genre in songwriting and musicianship.

Father and long term collaborator Tony Williamson inspired an interest and fascination with music in a young Rad.  Andy was able to take advantage of the opportunities a family in music provided, performing locally and across the East Coast.  Senior year in High School, he recorded his first full lenght record “Push On Thru” with his band RIFT at Doobie Shea Studios in Virginia.  The work consisted of Rad’s own lyrics and songwriting collaborations with Tony Williamson.  

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John Cowan soon dubbed the style ‘Grunge Grass’ after RIFT performed at Merlefest in the early 2000s.  Energized by the reception of his original work, the Radster took time between High School and College to travel to Europe, where he worked on developing his sound playing unaccompanied in cities from Hannover and Bremen to London and Paris.

Returning to the States, Rad attended courses at NC State for two years while recording his first solo album “Enjoy Responsively”.  The album was recorded, written and produced entirely by Rad Andy and prominently featured Tony Williamson on acoustic and electric mandolin with a songwriting credit on “New Lease On Lloyd”.  Rad’s Uncle Gary Williamson was featured on the unlisted bonus track “Heartbreaker”, creating a surprise bluegrass coda to a more acoustic rock feeling album.

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Equipped with the new solo album’s release and a recent influx in his involvement in the local NC music scene, Rad Andy became inspired to work on a more collaborative and engaged level with the artists he frequently met playing festivals and concerts across the state.  This led to his enrollment in the Music Technology program at UNC Asheville in 2006.  By making connections in the program and deepening his understanding of the recording process as an engineer, Rad hoped to give other talents an opportunity to be heard and enjoy the aesthetic preservation that had become prevalent in his own life.

The mountains of North Carolina were a welcoming venue for Andy.  Within a week of living on campus, het met and forged a strong friendship and musical alliance with jazz and metal bassist James Dawkins.  He introduced James to Tony Williamson, and began gigging and writing music with him under the band name ‘The Tony Williamson Trio’.  During this time, Rad established a mobile studio and mastering endeavour he called ‘Burning Man Studios’, and began recording projects for the group.  After a few years of writing and recording, the three musicians released ‘Dreams & Lies’, featuring a few guest performances from Tony’s long time friend and collaborator Martha Bassett, an accomplished jazz vocalist.

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In 2010, Tony Williamson brought Rad back to Merlefest along with James and Don Wright.  At the festival, they collaborated with aspiring country music singer Jenna Paulette to write the bluegrass country song ‘I’m Out’.  They featured Paulettte on their cabin stage set opening for Doc Watson.  

The resulting performance attracted the attention of Merlefest’s live recording ‘FestivalLink’ series, who captured the set on tape.  The actual set consisted of 5 onstage performances, so FestivalLink worked with Rad Andy and Burning Man Studios to record and license 4 studio tracks into the recording as bonus material.  Three tracks were originals composed by Rad himself (with Tony holding an additonal songwriting credit on ’Shakti’) and performed by the trio, and one track was a Music Tech Program Final Project originally submitted by Rad for the program; a cover of Tony Williamson performing ‘Back To Sorento’.  This became a favorite of Tony’s to perform live, and appears as a musical interlude in Tony’s live performance of ‘Shangrula’ in Japan, which was released in 2016 on the album ‘Now Trending’.

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After graduation May in 2011, Rad Andy established an acoustic rock duo in Asheville with James Dawkins known as ¡Rad & Jamez!.  The intent was to defy genre and incorporate all the elements of Jazz, Rock, Traditional, and Swing that had inspired and influenced the two throughout their musical careers.  Rad composed the original tune ‘Real Groove Music’, which encapsulated his philosophy on the subject, defining RGM as ‘…the kinda music makes you wanna just move to it.’  

In the lyrics to 'Real Groove Music', Rad  emphasises that ‘…no touring band don’t start local… and get local fans before packin’ their vans.’  To this effect, ¡Rad & Jamez! launched an effort in Asheville to support and promote local startup businesses.  The Ice Cream Parlour ‘Chillin’ Out!’ worked prominently with the duo in this respect, and ¡Rad & Jamez! played a residency here with local vocalist and saxophonist L-Fire, simultaneously releasing an album called ‘Chillin’ Out!’, which began with a title track celebrating the Ice Cream Shop, and featured the first ever studio version of the song ‘Real Groove Music’.  The album was released as a 6 track exclusive, limited edition disc, which was later re-released as the ‘Chillin’ Out Exclusive’ recording, extended with a few live tracks from Asheville performances featuring the duo and L-Fire guesting on vocals.

In the wake of the success the Real Groove Music initiative inspired, Rad Andy re-established his mobile studio efforts and expanded to mastering capabilities.  With the newfound technology, and the proficiency that his recording experience and Technology degree afforded him, Rad renamed his studio Real Groove Music and launched the 'Real Groove Music Live’ recording series, a downloadable series documenting celebrated Real Groove Music artists and collaborators.  

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The first two installments of RGM Live were soon afer combined into one 16 track Collector’s Edition entitled ‘Live In The Traid Vols. 1 & 2”.  The recording documented to Nov. 1st album release performance for “Dreams & Lies”, and largely presented Tony Willamson and ¡Rad & Jamez! playing their own original music, joined for a few tracks by Martha Bassett.  The cover songs performed that night were omitted on this recording, and later licensed and released as bonus tracks on “Now Trending”.

The live series gained notable interest and success, and Rad added two more additions in 2015 and ’16 with Tony Williamson’s band ‘The Williamson Brothers’.  ‘Live In Virginia’ Volumes 1 & 2 featured Tony and his brother Gary Williamson backed by a full band performing originals and traditional bluegrass and gospel music.  The package served as a digital companion to the Williamson Brothers’ 2014 release ‘Bluegrass!’, which Real Groove Music Studios had worked to create album layout and liner notes as well as post-production for.  Gaining favor with Tony Williamson in these endeavours and his similar involvement with the album ‘Lloyd Loar Mandolins’, Rad was able to co-ordinate and engineer Tony’s guest appearance on T. Michael Coleman’s 2016 solo release ‘Pocket’.

On June 30, 2015, Rad Andy was married to Emily Godleski, an inspirational beauty and talented vocalist.  Later this year, Emily was featured on the 6 track EP ‘Christmas Past, Present & Future’ on the holiday classic ‘Winter Wonderland’.  This Christmas recording was produced, recorded and released by Real Groove Music, and inspired by the holiday music series Tony Williamson had involved Rad Andy & James Dawkins in at the Raleigh Airport.  The album was released under the band name ’Tony Williamson’s Christmas Trio’, and coincided with the first anniversary of Tony Williamson’s PBS Christmas special on UNCTV, on which he featured Rad Andy on vocals and guitar for two performances. 

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In 2016, Rad Andy released a retrospecitve style recording entitled ‘Now Trending’, celebrating the studio work and collaborations he had the privelege of being involved with over the years.  It consisted largely of collaborations with Tony Williamson and ¡Rad & Jamez!, and included several tracks on which he had overdubbed all the parts.

The most recently recorded track on ‘Now Trending’ was a mash-up style medley of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s ‘Cold Shot’ and Pink Floyd’s ‘Money’, affectionately titled ‘Cold / Money / $hot’.  Also included in the package was the song ‘Creatures Cafe’, celebrating a local business of the same name ¡Rad & Jamez! had collaborated with during the inception of the Real Groove Music concept.   The album included several live performances for a few venues over Rad’s career, including the cover tracks to complete the ‘Live In The Triad’ recording series and an exclusive solo mandolin performance from Tony Williamson live in Japan.

Ever endeavouring to create new and innovative music and sounds, Rad Andy continues to write songs, perform live, collaborate and record.  Consistantly growing as an artist and seeking inspiration, Rad & his signature Real Groove Music will continue to evolve, delight young and old audiences alike, and be perserved through high quality recordings for decades of enjoyment to come.

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 © Rad Andy 2015