Newfoundland’s Andrew James O’Brien will break your heart at the In The Dead of Winter Music Festival

(photo: Andrew James O’Brien website)

Andrew James O’Brien has been called “The next great songwriter to emerge from Newfoundland” (Jamie Fitzpatrick, CBC).  His debut album garnered him 3 Music Newfoundland and Labrador awards (Male Artist of the Year, Rising Star of the Year, Pop/Rock Recording of the Year).

Andrew pours his heart and soul into his music.  Christina Martin introduced him at a songwriters circle in Halifax this past year by saying “I’ve been told Andrew is going to make me cry”.

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The next generation of musicphiles

I stumbled upon Andrew’s music purely by chance a year or two ago.  I was visiting St. John’s, strolling downtown heading towards my favourite store (in the world) Fred’s Records.  As I am wont to do in downtown St. John’s, I was looking at the telephone poles to see who was playing that weekend (Sidenote: If you are in St. John’s, the telephone poles in the downtown area provide the best live music information).

I kept seeing posters for Andrew James O’Brien’s Songs For Searchers album.   I had never heard of Andrew James O’Brien but something about the posters intrigued me.  I think it was the artwork, but I never did put my finger on it.   The posters kind of looked like this:

In any event, I had pretty much convinced myself to buy the album by the time I arrived at Fred’s.  I entered the store, looked around at the new releases, listened to a few of the CDs on the listening posts and then headed to the cash.  This is where fate took over.  There were 2 guys working behind the counter that day.  I asked if they could recommend any new local releases.  One of the guys picked up Songs For Searchers and said “I’d recommend this one, but that’s me”.  The other guy said “It really is him”.  There was no way I could not buy it at that point.  And so, I bought Songs For Searches from Andrew James O’Brien at my favourite store.   I also bought either The Long Distance Runners ep and The Gramercy Riffs “It’s Heartbreak“; or The Once and Peter Narvaez that day (I can’t remember precisely which).  I do remember we had a nice chat about Amelia Curran (whose Juno Award is on display in the store).

Songs For Searchers has been in constant rotation in my house, car and ipod since then.  The kids love the fast songs.  “All These Things” quickly became a family sing-along song and helped make long car trips to Cape Breton or Camp Yogi more manageable as we would sing the words and then make up our own lyrics to the tune.

Aside from the songwriters circle, I have only seen Andrew play once  (at The Carleton with The Novaks).  He is an excellent live performer.  He is playing at the In The Dead of Winter festival in Halifax on Friday (at Cempoal) and Saturday (at The Company House).  I am really looking forward to seeing him play again.  Hope to see you there.

Here is the Heavy Weathers video for West Street Serenade :

Check out more of Andrew’s videos HERE

To read interviews with other artists performing at the In The Dead of Winter music festival (Morgan MacDonald, Jennah Barry, Kim Harris, Heather Green, Gabrielle Papillon, Folly & The Hunter, Ria Mae, and Catriona Sturton) check out Jen from Twitter

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