Andrew Leahey & the Homestead
For three days in February 2011, Andrew Leahey and a group of friends holed themselves up in 'The Grotto,' an old brick building in Virginia that was originally built in the 1930s as a movie palace. The films stopped running over 60 years ago, but the theater lived on, briefly hosting a country music variety show in the '50s before turning itself into a masonic lodge. Leahey used it as a recording studio instead, setting up instruments in the main room and running cables up to the projection booth above the balcony. A Richmond native who took up the guitar at six years old, sang at Juilliard, and spent the majority of his 20s working as a music journalist, Andrew Leahey came to the Grotto with a collection of songs that split the difference between heartland rock & roll, folk, and alt-country. 'Penitentiary Guys' took it's cues from Ryan Adams & the Cardinals; 'Since I Climbed the Lighthouse' was originally inspired by Ray LaMontagne and came out sounding like Tom Petty. 'When Kristina Mends,' with it's handclaps and piano chords, even sounded a little vaudevillian. Joining Leahey in the studio were a number old classmates and new friends, all of whom also play in their own Virginia-based bands. They pulled long hours. They ate pizza. They added harmonies. Most importantly, they put their own spin on each song, turning what began as a solo project into the first proper album by Andrew Leahey & The Homestead. The Homestead's lineup is a shifting, evolving thing. People come and go. Arrangements are poked and prodded, and songs sound different according to who's playing them. But the Homestead will stick around, fronted by Andrew Leahey and filled with whomever happens to be passing through town or walking by the studio on any given night. It's gonna be a long road. This is the first stop.