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Singer-songwriter Andy Sydow sitting on a stone wall. April 30th, 2024

Q+A with LEAF Songwriter Competition Finalist Andy Sydow

In a career spanning more than a decade, Americana, rock, folk, singer-songwriter Andy Sydow has released several albums and singles, toured internationally, received Triple-A airplay (Alibi, 2022 and Keep On Driving, 2023), been a finalist in the Kerrville New Folk Songwriter Competition (twice!), and supported numerous acts including Shane Smith & The Saints, Dick Dale, Chuck Prophet, Tab Benoit, Samantha Fish, Lucero, and Anders Osborne.

Andy is one of eight finalists selected to showcase and compete in the LEAF Singer Songwriter Competition, Presented by NewSong Music, at LEAF Retreat on May 11.

NewSong Music: What is the most recent song you wrote and what inspired it?
Andy Sydow: Well, it’s still a working title, but right now it’s called “Jam On Toast.” It’s not about putting jam on toast, that’s just a line in the third verse that stuck out to me. It’s also an odd name for a song, and I like that! “Jam On Toast” is about getting stuck in a rut and going through the motions. I’ve struggled with feeling that way some lately so I guess I wrote it as a remedy for that. My friend Nic Clark co-wrote the song.
What was your journey to becoming a musician — are you classically trained or self-taught?
My parents put me in piano lessons in elementary school and I stuck with it through high school and then majored in jazz piano in college at CU Denver. I also played the saxophone in concert band and jazz band through high school, and my dad taught me guitar in high school as well. Growing up, we often went to this radio show in Boulder called “eTown.” I got to see so many amazing artists from week to week including Natalie Merchant, Jackie Greene, Ben Harper, and Keb’ Mo’. One show in particular that stands out was seeing Buddy Guy at “eTown” as a 10 year old. Buddy saw me in the audience and walked over and handed me his pick and let me play his polka dot guitar in the middle of a song! I didn’t know how to play at the time, but the rush of getting to be a part of the show really gave me the performance bug. 
What music was playing in your house while you were growing up?
My parents had a pretty big CD collection to pick from! A few that come to mind as I’m thinking about it now are Eric Clapton, Dave Matthews, Sarah McLachlan, Tom Petty, and Rush. I was also always big into movie soundtracks for the films I was watching as a kid. Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Jam and Shrek are a few that jump out off hand.
If you could co-write a song with anyone, who would it be, and why?
Dead or alive? Ok… I’ll answer both. Alive – Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes. He words things in ways that are truly unique, yet the listener knows exactly what he’s saying. It’s poetic without being too cryptic. Dead – I’d love to write a wild, twisted rock anthem with Warren Zevon. 
What has most surprised you about being a singer-songwriter?
The community is incredibly supportive. I don’t know what I expected when I got into this as a teenager, but it wasn’t this. The community is wonderful. It has also surprised me how many non-music related skills I’ve learned through this journey.