I spent last week in a semi stupor along with the rest of Columbus, Ohio and music fans/bands/friends from all over the country, mourning the sudden passing of Andy “Andyman” Davis. Andy roamed the FM airwaves at the legendary Independent radio station CD101 for over 19 years and was the program director for more than a decade.
Since Andy had so many interests that it would take a Ken Burns like mini series to cover everything, I am going to focus on how I knew him best, as a passionate fan of rock n roll. Family, Friends and Faith always came first for Andy, but I am reasonably confident rock n roll wasn’t too far behind those big three.
I cannot remember the year I first met Andy, but I remember the circumstances. He was the overnight DJ at this new little alternative rock station that had suddenly jumped to life on our Columbus FM dial at 101.1 FM.
Up to this point, if you lived in central Ohio (or almost anywhere in the Midwest for that matter) the only rock music being played on FM radio was…. ironically, the same songs still being played today.. What kind of station dared to play The Replacements, Elvis Costello and Ramones, but not a note from Boston, Rush or Pink Floyd? This couldn’t last! Could it? How could it? CD101 might as well been broadcasting out of the Santa Maria replica floating on the Scioto river in downtown Columbus. It was pirate radio turned loose on a bunch of Ohio State Fair going land lubbers.
Anyway, my band, Watershed had finally finished our first record. And when I say record, I mean a vinyl 45. Not because we were trying to be ironic or retro-cool, but because radio didn’t play CDs yet and still had turntables. I was too timid to drop off our new single during business hours, so I showed up in the middle of the night and tapped on the glass until this bigger than life figure stepped out. I told him I wanted to drop off my band’s first record. (Watershed-“ Rise” b/w “Love Passes Underground” produced by Willie Phoenix 1990) to see if they might want to play it. (Did I mention I was young?)
“Step on in brother..” Actually, I can’t remember what he said, but we did hang out while he was on the air and a friendship was formed.
Over the years, Watershed and CD101 partnered on so many shows, memories still come back to me in random moments. Here is one:
I remember playing New Year’s Eve at Ludlow’s (95-96?) and Andy was wrapped up in Christmas lights and hanging from a giant crane outside the club in the frigid air. They were going to drop “Andyman” like the Times Square ball to bring in the New Year. Andy always understood that radio, along with rock n roll, was supposed to be fun.
Shortly after he took over as acting program director, he added the latest Watershed songs, “Star Vehicle” and “Black Concert T-Shirt” to heavy rotation. It was a tough time for the band and me. We had been dropped by our label, manager, agent and our original drummer Herb had left the band. To add insult to injury, I had no car and had to ride my bike from Clintonville to my job at Subway (on Lane Ave in UA!) every morning. And my cat died..
Suddenly both songs started doing very well. I remember doing laundry in my basement at 256 Crestview where I lived when “Star Vehicle” was the #1 song of the day or whatever they had then. I got a little emotional as the highest I had ever finished in anything was #3 in kickball kick at field day in 5th grade. Andy and CD101 had “by the grace of their mighty hand taken Watershed off life-support and plugged us back in”
BUT…. And this is important…
I ran into to Andy at O’Riley’s bar not long after and said, “Andy, thanks so much for playing our songs, it’s really cool of you.. to..”
Andy cut me off and pulled me aside, “Let’s get this straight. I’m not playing Watershed because we are friends, I’m playing it because I think it sounds good on the radio and people will like it. If I can take one local band, put it in rotation, and it tests well with the listeners, that means I can justify adding another local band the next time I hear something I like.”
Columbus Bands that have been in regular rotation on CD101:
(That I can remember..)
Willie Phoenix/Happy Chichester/Scrawl/Earwig/ Pretty Mighty Mighty/ Scott Gorsech/Karate Coyote /Gaunt/ The Johnson Brothers/ The Sun/ X Rated Cowboys/ RC Mob/ The Toll/ The Whiles/ Scrawl/ Watershed/ Howlin Maggie/Two Cow Garage/ Envelope/ Me – and many more.
If you are keeping score at home, Watershed songs that have been in rotation “How do You Feel”, “If That’s How You Want It”, “Star Vehicle”, “Black Concert T Shirt”, “Mercurochrome”, “Can’t Be Myself”, “Anniversary”, “Obvious” and “Superior” with the Bones.
But really, while adding local bands to regular rotation is a huge deal and would get most PDs fired if they missed on even one song, Andy made an even bigger contribution to the Columbus Music scene by his little acts of kindness.
“Andyman was watching us tonight!!!”
Andy loved local music and would always check out bands and was happy to receive any demo. He would mention all kinds of shows on the air and not just the coolest or biggest shows. Especially not the coolest or biggest.
I can testify first hand that when your show gets mentioned by Andy on the radio: your boss cuts you some slack, your girl/boy friend suddenly finds you a little sexier, you parents quit bitching about you getting a job with benefits for a couple of weeks, drummers show up to practice on time, ect. It improves moral for everybody. Columbus is an amazing place to be a musician and Andy was/is the biggest part of that.
If there is such a thing as the Columbus Music Scene, we might as well rename it “Andyman”.
In the past year, Andy and my paths crossed less frequently. Sure, we still had our annual time on the Andymanathon, but with families, coffee shops and Quinn and Andy selling the Treehouse, there just weren’t as many random late night rendezvous as in past years.
Still, I looked up one morning at Colin’s Coffee and there was Andy towering over me with a big grin on his face, “We’ve got to get you back on the airwaves and I think I have an idea how to do it…and I’ll take a large coffee”
Thus, “Colin Karaoke” was born on Friday afternoons around 4:30pm. I never was really comfortable with the Karaoke part as I don’t know many sing along tunes and cannot even spell Kareoke, but I was very comfortable hanging out with my friend Andy, laughing, playing rock n roll, “taking calls” and calling it “work”.
The thing is, with Andy Davis, radio and rock n roll was never work to him. Despite all his success and talents as a promoter, DJ and programmer, he remained a fan first.
“Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life” True words. So long my friend.
I got a number of e-mails concerning what I said and played at the Andyman Remembrance at the LC Thursday July 22,2010
To summarize: Andy put his life’s work into CD101. Now you need to help spread the word and keep his dream alive and thriving. E-mail somebody, tell them to tune in, wear a shirt, take out an ad. Get involved. Don’t just sit and listen in your car by yourself. Run a bus off the road, roll the windows down, turn that mother way up and scream “check out this radio station!!”
The songs I played at the remembrance were:
Guy At Show: “Dude- why are you going to play over too soon? That song is such a bummer.”
Me: “Because this is a bummer, dude.”