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Sandy Andina: Bio

UPDATE: In Dec. 2013, to her delight and amazement, Sandy was awarded the int'l organization Songsalive!'s "Songwriter of the Year" Award for her body of work and service to the songwriting community!

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Brooklyn-born-and-raised, longtime Chicago resident (with a stretch in Seattle in between), Sandy Andina has been performing professionally for over 25 years (not counting occasional forays onstage in college and law school). She started as a solo folk singer-songwriter and guitarist, soon adding mountain dulcimer, frailing banjo, 12-string guitar, harmonica, autoharp, ukulele and electric bass to her arsenal of instruments. Along the way, Sandy honed her humor chops as a house opener in Chicago's comedy clubs, and was bassist and singer for the rock bands The White Women and Lake Effect; she also lent her bass, guitar and vocal skills to Emanual Congregation's 100% Kosher Ham-it-Up Band, playing rock, Broadway, jazz and klezmer.  

Sandy took some time off to raise her son Gordy (a talented bassist and improv comedy actor-writer) and practice law part-time.  15 years ago she decided it was high time to get back into the swing of things and put out her first full album (during her comedy club days, she had a cut, "The Preppy Anthem," and some acting parts on the now-out-of-print Eclipse Records LP "The Preppy Comedy Album"). After re-polishing her songwriting skills at the Old Town School of Folk Music with instructors as diverse as the Bad Examples' Ralph Covert, folk legend Michael ("The Dutchman") Smith and Americana country-rock Renaissance Man Steve Earle, Sandy chose Ralph Covert to produce her first CD on her Essay label, "Ghosts and Angels," which also features the talents of Corky Siegel. Dave Specter, Michael Miles, Frankie Donaldson and Tom "Pickles" Piekarski, as well as other talented side musicians and singers. Released in 2001, it enjoyed a 72% pickup rate in a 50-station promo campaign. Its followup, "Candy Apple Red Herring," is due out in late 2014 or early 2015, helmed by studio ace Gary Gordon (see below).

A song she wrote a couple of years later, "Because We Can," soon became a Dr. Demento hit (twice landing in the Funny Five and featured on his annual compilation "Basement Tapes #13" Demento Society CD) and still garners recognition and requests. It earned a 2006 Just Plain Folks Award nomination for Best Novelty Song. She also was a 2003 solo artist-in-residence for the Coffeyville (KS) Humanities program and has performed solo across the upper Midwest, Great Lakes, and venues in NY, OH, CA, VA, MD, TX,TN, Canada and Mexico. Her songs have been played worldwide on terrestrial, satellite and Internet radio, she's done numerous in-studio radio performances; and she's been on local TV several times. In 2004 Sandy was part of the "Give Peace a Chance" Remake Sessions (spearheaded by Cathy Richardson, Alice Peacock and Jim Peterik)--on vocals, dulcimer and percussion, live and in-studio, featured on NPR.

Sandy has recently also been a member of two other bands, one of them currently: in 2001, she rejoined former Chicago comedy club singing partner Stephen Lee Rich (your friendly neighborhood yodeling cowboy comedian), now a resident of Madison, WI, to form the eclectic acoustic Americana duo Andina & Rich; their debut CD, "Because We Can," featuring the duet version of the title tune, was pre-released in 2005 and remastered and released in early 2006. (An FCC-friendly version is availble--just contact us).  Steve & Sandy have performed all over the upper and lower Midwest, Northeast and mid-South, as well as CO, WY, WA and OR--appearing on their own and opening for Michael Smith.  Sandy returned, this time as half of Andina & Rich, to the Coffeyville Humanities Project in 2009, presenting their eclectic program "Humor and Music Through the Hard Times."  They've since expanded their program to libraries, schools and senior centers; as well as festivals, churches, temples, bars & cafes (including but not limited to opening in Pittsburgh for folk supergroup Red Horse, and recording a well-received episode of the syndicated "River City Folk" radio show hosted by Tom May).  For institutional and educational shows, they are represented by Unbound Booking of Loveland, CO.

They released their full-length second studio CD, "Two Guitars, a Dulcimer and an Attitude" to great acclaim and wide airplay (and have begun touring regionally behind it (expanding to the East Coast, Intermountain and Pacific NW and Great Plains in spring 2011). It was included in 7 categories in that year's Grammy Preliminary Ballot. Every song on it (all 14!) has received airplay! Songs from it appear on the prestigious Acoustic Rainbow Roots/Americana Sampler and upcoming Bluegrass Sampler.  Its followup, "Chasing Lightning" (as well as their holiday EP "Merry Humbug") is set for summer and autumn (respectively) 2014 release.

All three duo CD/EPs (2010-14) were engineered, mixed and mastered by Gary Gordon at Inside Out Studio in Sparta, IL.  You can hear "Two Guitars" streaming right here on this site--just click "Music" in the left sidebar!  Click "Products" to buy it from us or CDBaby.com (where you can also purchase it as a download). Some of the mid-South's top talents lent their deft and subtle touch to the projects: engineer Gary Gordon is best known, with his wife Roberta, as one of North America's top award-winning Americana/bluegrass/traditional country duos The Gordons, who have graced stages worldwide.  You can also hear his harmonica, dobro, blues guitar licks, and Roberta's & his harmony singing. Multi-instrumentalist and Nashville session ace Robert Bowlin, who's played at the Grand Old Opry with and without partner Wil Maring as well as all around N. America and Europe, lends fine fiddle, mandolin and accordion; versatile and always tasteful string bassist Ross Sermons (just back from an Australian tour) is on every cut that's not a cappella; Ingrid Frances Stark on tin whistle; and young Shane Cordevant plays some deft percussion on one track. "Chasing Lightning" and "Merry Humbug" also add the talents of Hunter Beattie on keys and drums, Rocky Maffet on percussion, and Curtis Jay on bass.  That one tiny (and delightful) corner of SW Illinois probably has more bluegrass and Americana talent supplying Nashville, Louisville and Knoxville than much of Tennessee and Kentucky, and we are pinching ourselves as to how lucky we are to have them grace our work. (And Chelsea, MI's Annie Capps expertly made our CD as good to look at and easy to navigate as our Southern Illinoisans helped us sound like ourselves on a great night when the planets are in alignment, the audience vibe is upbeat, and our voices are going with the flow).

Sandy used to anticipate recording sessions with as much enthusiasm as she does root canals, but this time we had a blast; and Sandy can't wait to go back down to Sparta to finish her second solo CD!

Sandy and Steve are proud members not only of Folk Alliance but also of Local 1000 (The Traveling Musicians' Union) of the American Federation of Musicians--on whose board she served as Midwest Rep. from 2009-12. She was a longtime Board member, past President and Registrar of FARM (Folk Alliance Region Midwest), past President and current Media director of the Chicago Songwriters' Collective, and past Chicago Chapter Head of Just Plain Folks (still an active member). Other affiliations include Songsalive!, Chicago Bar Association and The Recording Academy (NARAS, the Grammy organization, of which she's a Voting Member).

Sandy just finished her thirteenth year in the Chicago Bar Assn's annual Christmas Spirits Bar Show, titled "The Merry Old Land of Lawz." (For her body of work--singing, acting, guitar playing and committed attempted dancing--in her eighth year, Sandy was awarded the coveted Spear Carrier Award--which commands fear and respect on the streets but poses some problems getting through turnstiles on the CTA or in the TSA line at O'Hare). The "Bar Show," as it's been officially renamed, is a fully choreographed and staged B'way-style musical topical parody revue, and runs five performances each December at the Merle Reskin Theater in the South Loop of Chicago. All proceeds go to the CBA Charities.

Sandy is always available to perform for public and private functions, and teaches mountain dulcimer and beginning guitar. She's not taking on new law clients, however--she considers herself a "recovering lawyer" and self-confessed political junkie--having been a former precinct captain and political organization officer and volunteer in Seattle and Chicago. When she is not careful, she finds herself accidentally volunteering again and again.

Andina & Rich, having emerged from studio hibernation and the dreadful Winter of 2014 (aka The Thing That Wouldn't Leave), are already once again actively booking all over the Great Lakes and mid-South through 2015 and 2016--check "Calendar Dates" here and on their Facebook and ReverbNation fan pages for where to catch them. Check our contact info if you'd like us to play in your town, cafe, festival, house of worship, or your home or backyard.  We're polite, don't make a mess, can be as loud or soft as you want, make scintillating conversation, and usually bring great coffee (often roasted by yours truly).

NOTE: From 2004-9 Sandy was also part of SASS! and The SASS! Trio with veteran singer-songwriter Susan Urban at a suburban Chicago science fiction convention (as part of Bob Berlien & the White Women back in her rock & roll days, Sandy discovered the sci-fi con scene, was a Musician Guest of Honor at Minicon and is a member of MN-StF, the science fiction society of the Twin Cities). Their CD "Album One" was released on their BWC label in Nov. 2006 and garnered a 2008 Just Plain Folks Music Awards nomination for Best Traditional Folk Song (the Urban-penned "Annie Oakley"). Adding traditional and contemporary/classic folksinger Kate Early, they morphed from time to time into The SASS! Trio, appearing in various combinations all over the Midwest, Great Lakes, Middle Atlantic, South and Southwest at various science fiction conventions, UU churches, folk festivals, college campuses, house and municipal concert series, live radio broadcasts, and myriad clubs and coffeehouses. The SASS! Trio retired in 2009, as Sandy and Stephen have kicked Andina & Rich into high gear (and Susan and longtime companion--now spouse--Phil Cooper formed February Sky).  "Album One" is still available through CDBaby, and half the proceeds thereof go to Susan--so if you're a fan of hers, you get to do a doubly good deed if you buy it.

And a special shout-out to Sandy's real-life "angel," biggest fan, and soulmate of four decades--without Bob's appreciation and support, she'd still be doing Traffic Court call (or worse, be a politician).