08CollinsIt can be hard to put a name on the genre of music the Andrew Collins Trio plays, but regardless of label, the music resonates. Thursday, May 3, the winner (seven times) of the Canada Folk Music Awards and nominee (five times) of the JUNO awards – Canada’s Grammy – brings its award-winning sound to the Cameo Art House Theatre on Hay Street.

Collins fell in love with the mandolin when he was 18. “But I’d had guitars before and didn’t think I would have it in me to practice,” he said. “It kept me from getting a mandolin. 

“I went to a fest with a friend. I like music played at a high level, and bluegrass is a technical music. That is what I like about it. At 23, I was living a ski bum’s life. (Then) I quit skiing and sold my gear to buy my first mandolin. It took over my life.”

Now, he writes and plays, enjoying the growth that comes from performing onstage with the band. It’s challenging, he said, but fun to see hours of playing together yield synergistic energy in performance venues. It’s musically technical and soulfully touching. 

“Our music draws from jazz, classical, folk, swing and blue grass,” said the group’s namesake. “There is usually enough of a musical memory and feeling of familiarity for people to feel comfortable and appreciate it, but it’s also new and fresh.” 

The playlist includes the band’s double album “Tongue & Groove.” It’s 11 vocal cuts, or tongues, and 11 instrumentals, or grooves. 

We do a few covers of things including jazz and traditional bluegrass,” Collins said. “The instrumentals move around several styles, too. These two albums are a real mix, which is really fun.

“Our show has a lot of storytelling and jokes within the show as well. The idea is to make it musically fun but also entertaining.”

The trio is composed of Collins, who plays mandolin, fiddle, guitar, mandola, mandocello and croons smooth vocals; Mike Mezzatesta on the guitar, mandolin, fiddle and mandola; and James McEleney on bass, mandocello and vocals. 

The Andrew Collins Trio pushes for technical prowess matched equally with soul and personality. “The genre that we play – a lot of people refer to it as new acoustic music,” Collins said. “Often when we play, it is like we are educating, too.”

This year marks the band’s first tour in the U.S. Collins noted that lately it seems the band is playing more in the U.S. than in their native Canada. 

“So far, we’ve been very well received. And it has been a lot of fun for us, but also the audiences seem to really enjoy it, too. Often, we are playing to audiences that are very familiar with this genre.”

The May 3 show starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Cameo Art House Theatre, 225 Hay St. Tickets cost $12 in advance or $15 at the door. Call 910-486-6633 or visit www.theroosterswife.org/shows/andrewcollins-trio-cameo to purchase tickets.

Learn more about the band at www.andrewcollinstrio.com.

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