Up past the cobblestone high street of old fashioned and picturesque town of Guildford, on a back road, that at this point was dark and mysterious and clouded by the heavy falling rain, stood an old english pub, a tavern if you will, which is so small you could easily walk past it as is hidden in its terraced form.
The Keep, where Courtney Marie Andrews played on a Saturday night is certainly a hidden gem for live music. An intimate setting of the very best, (unless you are short and have a circus of tall people standing in front of you) because of its tiny capacity of no more than 100 people gathered in the one area. Any more people and they would have had to stood outside in the back which, to be fair, is covered with a gazebo but this is England, It’s March and it was raining.
No support act, Courtney walks in casually with her band member as if almost just another patron and takes to the stage, which is just a couple of microphones and a pedal steel guitar, no raised setting, just on level with her audience.
The crowd, a mixed, chirpy bunch of all ages, all friendly, mostly local and all respectful of each other apart from the rather sizeable man who chose to stand directly in front of me in a very uncomfortable fashion, blocking any chance of view I had to the point I was concerned my review would consist of – Saw the back of a bald guy, the end.
Thankfully, with the help of a friendly neighbour and playwright, I moved in front of him with my friend behind me so we could both see.
Courtney is instantly likeable, when she is on stage she oozes charisma and is adorable and funny. She plays her set somewhat spontaneously and does the odd nod to her only band member to indicate what is up next. Beginning the show stating how “there aren’t many cobbled streets and old buildings in Arizona” I had to chuckle how she pronounced the D in Guildford which is usually silent.
Courtney treated us with most, if not all the songs off her fantastic and critically acclaimed album Honest Life. Courtney’s set included many interesting stories of her experiences such as her cactus story, the jumping cholla. Which is about a cactus that can shoot its spines at you and at your butt and she laughs as she further explains how her mother once planted one in their driveway in Arizona. Laughing again, Courtney says “the desert will always find a way to kill you”.
Not all the stories were of the comedic sense though. Courtney also tells us of a heartbreaking story before singing a new song of how her once very active Aunt Cheryl was out of nowhere diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
On a happier note, the night is treated with some of her finest songs such as Rookie Dreaming, Put The Fire Out, Honest Life and Irene. Introducing us to her song ‘How Quickly Your Heart Mends’ Courtney tells us of this bar she worked at and how it attracted the strangest and most interesting of people, so much so that when she filmed the video, she featured some of them in it. She told us of Dancing Debbie who would dance all night in the bar, whether it be to the juke box or the band, when Courtney asked her to be a part of the video she cried, “I’m going to be a star” . Then there was Talking Terry’ who talks too much. Whilst rehearsing the Director Josh Perrault asks Courtney “where did you find these actors?” To which she replies “This is just who they are. Give them a couple of shots of tequila at 8am and they are away”.
With another new song, Courtney explains her birthday usually falls on election day. Last year she cried into her beer when Trump was elected and decided to write a song which she premiered on the women’s march, I wish I remembered more of the lyrics but its began something along the lines of how do you feel seeing your daughter covered up in case a man…
Her set went by too quickly, even with a encore which just goes to show how great she was.
Courtney is such a refreshing artist and is truly a treat to watch and listen to. Her voice is so enchantingly beautiful and she is an artist of old soul, a modern Joni Mitchell if you will but also a stand alone artist in her own right. Her songwriting talents are to be admired as her story telling lyrics are not only interesting but mesmerising and inspiring.
Courtney, live, is an artist not to me missed, never to be overlooked and is certainly worthy of your time.
Courtney is an artist who will appeal to fans of all genres including Country, Folk, Americana, Soul, Jazz, Blues, any genre really.
Courtney will be returning to the UK at the end of August through to September and I highly recommend that you catch a show.
I hope you come out to see her later in the year, I will be there for sure.