Exclusive Premiere: Stream Andy Pickett's Debut Album In Full.
Hype is a most peculiar thing.
More and more, though, it's a necessary part of the equation for any successful music career. It's the reason a guy like Leon Bridges can share the stage with the surviving members of The Beatles before even releasing his debut album. It's why somebody like Post Malone can sell out a club the size of Trees on the strength of six songs uploaded to a Soundcloud page.
But she's a fickle beast, that hype. And for every buzz band du jour, there's an untold slew of artists flying almost completely under the radar.
Fort Worth's Andy Pickett is an artist that falls squarely in the latter camp. While Pickett's bearded mug is certainly a recognizable one in the city's Near Southside neighborhood — especially to those that frequent The Chat Room Pub where he works the door — few are even aware that Pickett's a performer in his own right.
“I don't think many people really knew that I played the piano,” he says. “I started playing at Live Oak, and that was part of the draw; they wanted to see the big hairy door guy from the Chat Room. 'What? He plays piano!?' It turns out I do.”
Fortunately for Pickett, those Live Oak shows didn't go completely unnoticed. Three years ago, he was approached after one of those gigs by Jerry Hudson, who runs Fort Worth's Eagle Audio. He helped Pickett record a solo EP.
“Jerry came and saw one of the shows and saw that people were coming,” he says. “It seemed like people were into it, so he said, 'Do you have songs?' I said, 'I've got some songs.' We recorded this little thing, just me and a piano. It was called Songs Off the Keys of Sea Miner. We sold about 150 copies of it and Jerry got a wild hair up his ass and said, 'Let's do a whole thing.' We started in June two years ago and we just finished it. That's kind of how it came to be. It was Jerry's idea to do the full-band scenario.”
The album to which he refers is It Happens Every Night, the debut solo full-length that finds Pickett soulfully crooning R. Stevie Moore style over plodding keys and a backing band that includes a who's who of Fort Worth music scene folk. Produced by The Theater Fire's Britt Robisheaux, the 11 tracks are smattered with a richness in talent, including Telegraph Canyon's Chuck Brown and Tamara Cauble Brown, who handled the bass, horn and violin duties between them; Panther City Bandits' Brian Shaw and Rivercrest Yacht Club's Lucas White on drums; and Brenton Carney of Unlikely Candidates on a guitar track. Elsewhere, Ginny Mac plays the accordion, Tom Kreuder of the Buffalo Philharmonic lends his viola and Priya Patel and Brady Roberts each contribute vocals to the LP.
“It's a lot of people from some pretty well-known groups and some people from the neighborhood,” Pickett says. “It's pretty much a neighborhood endeavor. Jerry hangs out at the Chat. Eagle [Audio] is his baby. We're all friends.”
The Browns and Shaw will also help Pickett bring the album to life when they perform at — where else? — The Chat Room this Saturday as part of the album release show for It Happens Every Night. It's a fact even more fitting considering that not only does Chuck Brown also tend bar there, but it's also the inspiration for much of the album. For instance, it's not hard to imagine Pickett having to put an ornery bar patron in his place with a stern “Don't bro me,” as he does in a song of the same name. It's also easy to picture the crack-smoking neighbor and other characters roaming Hemphill Street in the album's titular track.
Or as Pickett puts it: “You've got to write about what you know.”
Before Saturday's show, we're stoked that Pickett and Dreamy Life Records are letting us premiere a stream of this shockingly seasoned debut album in full below. Check it out and see for yourself why it's one of our favorite releases of the year.
Cover photo by Nick Prendergast.