Celebrating 25 years of Shanneyganock success, frontman Chris Andrews reflects on happenstance and hard work
Could musical success be thanks to divine intervention? Maybe that’s too far a dramatic stretch, however, there’s a cute yarn that happened in the fall of ’84 that’s too cool to go unspun.
A young Chris Andrews was building a cabin in the woods with his buddies near his home in Logy Bay when he heard his mother blare out his name. Like ya would, he came running, just in time to see then visiting Pope John Paul II drive by.
“He waved. The pope waved at us. We were like, right on,” he says, followed by a gruff – perhaps some could say signature – chuckle.
A singer’s birthright
Of course, if you can’t pin Shanneyganock’s fame ’rackly on the pope, you could, perhaps, point a finger at his parents. One could argue a love of traditional music just might be his birthright. To demonstrate, Andrews shares another wonderful yarn.
“Back in the days before cell phones, my mother was in St. Clare’s waiting to have me,” he begins. While waiting for the blessed event to occur, Andrews’ father made a quick stop. “Well, dad ran into The Strand to watch Ryan’s Fancy perform and missed me being born. True story,” he shares. More laughter.
But the career path of Shanney’s frontman Andrews and the equally talented Mark Hiscock is filled with delightful tales involving blood, sweat, tears, saltwater spray, 20-hour long roadtrips and happenstance. Take the beginnings of their partnership for example.
A chance meeting
“Mark and I never knew each other. We were double-booked at Erin’s (Pub) and instead of sending one of us home that night, we played together. And here we are, 25 years later.”
There’s a similar tale surrounding connecting with now long-time bandmate Craig Young. “Everyone talked about this amazing musician, Craig Young. We had never met him. Finally ran into him on a longliner going from Ramea to Burgeo,” Andrews shares with a head shake.
The band had performed and “needed to get out of dodge” to catch a flight to their next gig. Too late for the ferry, they booked a longliner that happened to belong to Young’s father-in-law. “He was on the boat, and we chatted as we rode this boat along the bottom of the bay on the roughest ol’ kind of a day, and that was seven years ago.”
As the saying goes, there’s no rest for the wickedly talented, and Shanneyganock has a busy few months ahead. The band’s 14th album is in the works, plus there’s a few shows they are looking forward to on home soil, like an all-ages, everyone’s welcome gig at Holy Heart Theatre on Nov. 9th featuring special guest Bud Davidge of Simani fame.
‘It was deadly’
Another “chance meeting” tale follows. “We never knew Bud, and we were doing a benefit concert and someone said Bud Davidge wanted to come out. Well sure! So Bud and Wince Coles came out and sang with Shanneyganock that night and the place went upside down, and it was deadly,” he reflects.
The response of the crowd that night didn’t surprise him, though it was eye-opening for the Music and Friends singer, he continues.
“I said to him, I don’t think you realize the impact you’ve had on music and culture in this province. Just get past the success of Mummers (The Mummers Song) for a minute, it’s so much more than that one song, and the influence isn’t just on older generations, it’s all generations. From old to young, they all know the songs,” he says enthusiastically.
Being able to be on stage and feel that energy and vibe? Incredible he says, adding a sincere, “I feel so lucky.” Andrews is quick to laud the many other musical “greats” this province has produced.
“Bud, Fergus (O’Byrne), Ralph (O’Brien), Chris (Hennessy), Ron (Hynes), Ennis (The Ennis Sisters); all have a place in creating the fans for this type of music.”
Shanneyganock has created their own unique niche in the industry, but while they have a reputation for being a ‘party band’ they are also lucky or blessed to have fans of all ages, and the show at Holy Heart is the perfect spot to celebrate that fact. “We’ve been around for 25 years and it’s like our fans keep regenerating.
“There was a time when we’d hear, ‘oh! My mom loves ya.’ Or, ‘nan loves you guys,’ and now we hear, ‘my daughter really loves your music, I’d love to be able to bring her to a show,’ or someone will say, ‘excuse me sir. I grew up to your music.’ It’s almost mind blowing to think you raised a generation, right? So we’re trying to do more shows to celebrate that because the fact that the band appeals to everyone blows me away.”
One phrase that seems to keep popping up throughout the interview is this line; “It’s great to be here.” (What? You were expecting the trademark; ‘Any Newfoundlanders here tonight?’)
Andrews pauses. “It’s great to be here. I can’t lie. Who else can say they had 7,000 people fill a venue on a Tuesday night to listen to traditional music from home? You take old songs and make them new again, and everybody loves it. It’s great, right?”
So, what’s next for the b’ys? Can Andrews, Hiscock, Ian Chipman, Brad Tuck, Craig Young and (sometimes) Davidge keep up the pace? Andrews sits back, thinking.
‘‘Maybe slowing it down a bit. Getting our road days down a bit. You know, we’re no spring chickens anymore. But who knows?” Andrews says while much of the band’s progress and success – from his and Mark’s first time onstage onwards – can be considered ‘luck’ he also knows it’s because of hard work.
‘You’re all excellent’
“We were lucky but a good friend of mine always said to me, luck is a result of work. And you know, you make your own luck. To make it in this business you’ve got to be willing to work like dogs.”
Planes, trains, automobiles and a scattered longliner; they’ve been everywhere by any method available.
“The back of a Hercules, 20-hour drives for a one–of show. Whatever it took to get wherever it was. And we always give the same show for 400 in a hall or for 7,000 on George Street. We take our jobs seriously.”
Any message he’d like to get out to the fans? “Thank you, everybody, for the support. Keep coming to the shows. Say hello. Love y’all. You’re all excellent. Thank you for listening.”
And lastly? “It’s great to be here.”
For more Shanneyganock news and future shows, follow them on Facebook or Twitter. For tickets for their all-ages show, visit holyhearttheatre.com