By the Time I Get to Phoenix: Courtney Marie Andrews Is the Biggest Star in the Valley's Blooming Pop-Folk Scene

It's 1 p.m. on a blustery Sunday afternoon, and more than 100 music fans are lined up outside downtown Phoenix's Modified Arts. The doors to the intimate venue don't open for another hour — and the headliner, Courtney Marie Andrews, won't take the stage for nine hours — but that doesn't deter the throng of people waiting.

During recent folk festivals in the Phoenix area — featuring local artists in their late teens singing stylistically updated singer-songwriter music in the vein of Bob Dylan and Carole King — people came from all over the country. One carload of teens traveled all the way from Ohio.

Today's turnout is no exception: the line snakes 75 yards down Roosevelt toward Fifth Street. Because Phoenix's reputation for this musical form has burgeoned, these fans aren't taking any chances of getting turned away.

Nine hours and 14 bands later, it's finally Andrews' turn. Modified Arts (which has since ditched nightly concerts after changing ownership) is packed with teens, some of them fellow musicians sitting knee-to-knee on blankets spread out on the floor. Many are hyper-focused on the songstress with long black hair and bangs that cover her eyebrows. One teenage girl, who clutches a pink lunchbox depicting the Beatles, seems especially hypnotized.

The room is silent as Andrews launches into a song from her latest album, Painter's Hands and a Seventh Son, a disc that listens like a pared-down Björk playing a singer-songwriter set for her best pals in a park. Andrews, wearing a black dress and brandishing a black acoustic guitar, sings with closed eyes. Her stage presence is deceptively mature for a 19-year-old, and her songs contain wisdom that's accessible to both the teenagers and adults in the room.

As she closes the 30-minute set with "Darling Boy" — a simple yet powerful aria about love that's just out of reach — the girl with the lunchbox is so wrapped up in another world that it would take a human-size spatula to pry her off of Modified's wood floor.

Over the past few years, the Phoenix area has quietly become an epicenter for a new breed of folk-centric musicians. In the past, many talented creative types have ditched the Valley for more culturally relevant places like New York City and Portland, Oregon. However, thanks to the growth of the pop-folk movement here, a number of musicians have moved to the Phoenix area to become part of a grassroots community.

Some who aren't able to relocate here pine for Arizona over the Internet, whether it's exclaiming, "I Wish I Were in Phoenix!" in their MySpace profile headlines or traveling from the Midwest to see locally produced music festivals. A Seattle band even wrote a song that chronicles its perceived magical view of Phoenix.

The reputation of the area's pop-folk — which encompasses other styles, such as indie rock, and whose themes range from unrequited love to poppy front-porch-style storytelling — has made noise throughout the country.

Largely because of Courtney Marie Andrews. The recent high school graduate and face of the movement built the community by recruiting talented musicians from across metro Phoenix and playing do-it-yourself shows all over the country. Says a prominent musician with national cred, Andrews, who will make her major-label debut this fall, is on the verge of making it big-time.

Though the Valley is an affordable place to create music — thanks to the availability of inexpensive recording technologies, as well as the Internet's ease of getting music out there — the area remains, culturally, a small town. One legit label owner, who's been integral to the pop-folk movement, claims that a larger indie label would have signed Andrews if she lived somewhere like the Pacific Northwest.

Because only a few are anchoring the local pop-folk trend, the price of notoriety has taxed the scene's limited resources, causing a number of inexperienced producers and engineers to emerge. As a result — and coupled with the loss of Modified Arts, which was the music's main home base for live performances — the Phoenix area's pop-folk scene and its homegrown future are at a crossroads.

Courtney Marie Andrews makes a beeline to her car at a downtown Phoenix parking garage. The rear window on the driver's side of the gray four-door sedan is gone, the result of a burglary months earlier, which is why Andrews takes her acoustic guitar (which needs new strings) from the vehicle wherever she parks.

She walks to the front of the vehicle, where the front bumper hangs near the structure's concrete wall. To lift the bumper off the ground, she must maneuver her petite, 5-foot-3-inch frame into the small gap between the car and the wall. Otherwise, she will drag the bumper along the pavement on her way to a job interview. If she doesn't secure employment, she won't be able to fund her next tour or pay to re-string her weathered instrument.

Six days earlier, the Valley native and two girlfriends hopped in the car, which has seen better days, and drove to Topanga Canyon, California, where Vincent Pascoe — who's made videos for disturbed alt-rockers I Am Ghost and Cuban-American rapper Sen Dog — filmed a $20,000 piece on spec. According to Andrews, the shoot for her six-minute-plus song "The Buffalo and the Bird" went well, but the jaunt to the Topanga bohemian colony near Los Angeles (unintentionally founded as an artist enclave by Woody Guthrie in the 1950s) did have its tense moments.

Before leaving Phoenix, she had only $54 to pay for gas and food. Her friends didn't have money to spare, so Andrews asked her mom, who raised Courtney without a father figure, for a loan. That didn't work because Andrews' mother had just made a mortgage payment.

Once in Topanga — which continues to be a neo-hippie spot made famous by past residents Joni Mitchell, Jim Morrison, and Marvin Gaye — the film crew trespassed to put up a tree swing attached to a 50-foot piece of rope. Luckily, they documented the key shot just before an old man in a pickup made it clear that they weren't welcome.

Three days after the shoot, Andrews recorded six tunes at the Tempe studio of Jim Adkins. The vocalist and guitarist of major-label pop band Jimmy Eat World had heard about Andrews from a member of local emo-core group Reubens Accomplice. At the time, Adkins listened to her MySpace tracks and was impressed enough to attend one of Andrews' album-release shows.

A few months later, during one of Adkins' solo performances, he invited Andrews — who's drawn to great black female singers Billie Holiday and Aretha Franklin, as well as to the dark lyricism of Elliot Smith and the simplicity of Nick Drake — to sing Wilco/Feist's "You and I."

"She did a pretty good Feist," Adkins says, "so I thought it would be fun to use her on a few songs in the studio."

The tunes that Adkins cut with Andrews will appear on Jimmy Eat World's upcoming album (scheduled for an early-fall release) — a major breakthrough in Andrews' career. About the two days of sessions, Adkins says, "She brings it. She's super-solid on pitch and delivery. I've never heard her do a bad take, just different takes. She's all pro for how young she is."

The quiet and pensive Andrews, who writes all her songs, comes across as grounded and humble; she learned the hard way through an impoverished upbringing in the West Valley. Despite the upcoming music video and major-label debuts, she continues to live the life of a starving artist. When she's not scratching out lyrics in a spiral-bound notepad or talking adamantly about her astrological chart (she's a Scorpio), she finds support in a community that she helped create.

Andrews has spent her entire life in northwest Phoenix. In school, she always felt like a weird eccentric, and she was prone to lying to fit in. When she transferred to a new school in sixth grade, she tried to be cool by telling people she was a surfer in San Diego during the summers. "It didn't work," Andrews says.

Things didn't improve much during her freshman and sophomore years at Barry Goldwater High School. At lunch, her classmates would sometimes toss fries at her and her friends.

Outside school, things were happening. The 14-year-old Andrews started booking shows at coffee shops that didn't typically host live entertainment, such as Mama Java's on Indian School Road and the Coffee Bean in Peoria. Her first gig was at Fiddler's Dream, a place that hosts weekly acoustic music showcases.

At 15, she started sharing the bill with Ryan Osterman, an Ahwatukee-based singer-songwriter who now plays under the name Owl & Penny. A year later, Andrews and Asher Deaver, who lived in Cottonwood at the time, found each other through MySpace. Shortly thereafter, Andrews played a Gilbert coffee-shop gig and met Bradley Cluff (a.k.a. Bradley and the Materials), who ended up as her first tour mate. In just two years, many young and talented musicians living in the sprawling Valley had found each other, thanks to Andrews.

As she played more out-of-state shows in modest venues up and down the West Coast, Phoenix's reputation for pop-folk grew. "I remember one of my first shows in L.A.; the kids there were singing all of the lyrics to my songs. I was like, "Whoa, where did they come from?'" says Andrews.

Some in the Pacific Northwest took it a step further. The Benjamin Clocks, a Seattle-area indie-rock band, wrote a song called "The Medicine" that shrouds the Valley in a sonic cloak of anonymity, thanks to the bridge: "Phoenix sounds like / Phoenix sounds like / Phoenix sounds like such a mystery."

Now, musicians and bands from Washington are planning to move here for the scene. Says Andrews, "The kids I talked to in Seattle say that it's one band for itself there, [and that] nobody wants to have a community. They think it's so crazy that [musicians here] hang out together."

Aside from the alternative-rock scene pioneered by Meat Puppets, Gin Blossoms, and The Refreshments in the '80s and '90s, Phoenix has never been the center for any musical genre. In terms of folk music, John Stewart was the one heavy-hitting singer-songwriter in town during the '70s, says Erich Sielaff, who hosts the AZ Music Café show on KKNT 960 AM. But, technically, Stewart was an off-and-on relocated California boy whom Phoenix adopted as its folk hero, Sielaff says.

Though Arizona is crippled with statewide budget crises, the Pacific Northwest's larger cities have been worse off since the dot-com crash in the early 2000s. (For example, the current unemployment rate in Portland is 11.3 percent, compared with Phoenix's 9.2 percent). The creative communities in those cities find themselves especially leveled as overpopulated artist enclaves compete for a slice of the dwindling pie.

Meanwhile, metro Phoenix remains an affordable area to live and create. Outside the Courtney Marie Andrews circle, the Valley is also home to other talented singer-songwriters, such as Matthew Reveles and Stephen Steinbrink, the latter signed to Tempe-based Gilgongo Records.

There's also the 25-year-old Tobie Milford, whose Alyosha recently came out on Surface to Air Recording. The local indie label documents music in a $150,000 facility, complete with 20-foot vaulted ceilings and oak floors, near McClintock Drive and Rio Salado Parkway in Tempe.

To the label's Cary Miller — who learned his audio skills from Shelly Yakus, the renowned audio mixer who engineered John Lennon's "Imagine" — Milford sounds as though he were plucked straight out of folk music's heyday.

"Musically, he could be a new Jeff Buckley," says the 29-year-old Miller. "Artistically, he can be the next Bob Dylan. I'm really impressed by [Tobie], and I'm not impressed by much."

It makes sense that the nation's fifth-largest city — which has a unique acoustic showcase known as The Train Tracks, featuring non-amplified musicians playing songs on the Valley Metro light rail — is starting to make sonic waves nationally, says Jimmy Eat World's Adkins.

"Phoenix is cool because there's room to do something here," he says. "You know how many people move to L.A. or New York and can't do anything because everyone else is trying to do the same thing? With the Internet, there's no reason to move to a place like that."

As for Andrews' progress, Adkins says she is doing everything that she needs to do: "She's writing songs and touring. Those are things you can count on to make a difference in your longevity.

"The worst thing that can happen for any musician is to blow up out of nowhere without building that foundation, because you run the risk of fizzling out quickly. It bodes better for your longevity if you build it up naturally, and that's what she's doing."

River Jones stands barefoot outside his second-floor downtown Phoenix apartment. In his left hand is a lit cigarette. In his right, an iPhone connected to somebody in the music industry.

On most days, this tiny concrete patio is the farthest Jones gets from his live/work recording studio, which he shares with his fiancée. Decked out in a faded shirt and a pair of skinny jeans, the blond, bed-headed Jones hangs up the phone, takes another puff from his smoke, and explains that he's way over his cell-phone minutes for the month. However, he says it's all worth it.

"If somebody had told me that I would be running a folk label at age 32, I would have told them that they were crazy," Jones says. He's not even a folk-music fan — he much prefers Stereolab over Sufjan Stevens — so he can thank Andrews for his surprising vocation.

As Andrews' reputation ballooned, she ran into a problem: Aside from two personally produced CD-R albums housed in homemade disc sleeves, she didn't have a proper recording to sell at shows.

One night at Holgas Gallery, an artist cooperative on Third and Garfield streets, Jones and his fiancée, Shalon, were introduced to Andrews. Jones, who had recently moved back to Phoenix after living the rock 'n' roll lifestyle in Los Angeles, knew of Andrews, but in the midst of launching a record label, he had never heard her music.

Moments after the meeting, Jones, his fiancée, and Andrews found a quiet place at Holgas, where the then-16-year-old played a song for the couple. Jones was blown away. "I dropped everything to record Courtney," he says.

However, Andrews wasn't exactly enthusiastic, dismissing Jones' dreams of documenting her music as another all-talk, no-action plan she'd heard before. Says Andrews, "I didn't take it seriously. Even when he was doing these free recordings, I was like, 'Yeah, whatever.'"

Over time, though, Andrews noticed that Jones actually knew what he was doing. Plus, studio time was free, with an agreement that part of the recording cost would be recouped from sales. The sessions turned into Urban Myths, an album that wasn't even mastered because the label didn't have the money.

Despite the disc's anonymity, the CD-release show for Urban Myths was a huge success, thanks to Andrews' blossoming songwriting and a heavy online marketing campaign engineered by Jones. Because fans of all ages packed Modified Arts, many were turned away. Andrews and Jones couldn't believe it, especially considering that a startup label had released the record.

Soon, the circle of musicians Andrews had built since age 14 began working with River Jones Music. Since then, more out-of-state artists have recorded at Jones' home/studio.

Brent Cowles, who goes by You Me & Apollo, moved here from Colorado Springs, Colorado, after finding River Jones Music's MySpace page. The Pioneers of Prime Time TV, one of the label's only full bands, want to move here, but they're tied down in New Mexico (the lead singer heads a construction company); instead, they make trips to the Valley regularly to record and play shows.

The hyperactive Jones, who has signed more than a dozen artists in the past few years, shuns the spotlight. He insists that he's about the music, rather than the money and notoriety. Because it's a full-time gig that doesn't turn a profit, his fiancée "keeps the lights on," says Jones, who spends up to 16 hours each day recording, mixing, marketing, and making sure his artists' albums are stocked in independently owned record stores across the country. He's especially found success building the brand through social-networking outlets, including Facebook and MySpace.

The seeds of Jones' artist know-how were planted in west Phoenix, where he was born and raised by his single mother. In his teens, he played shows and organized gigs in unoccupied desert areas around 99th Avenue and Jomax Road.

After high school, Jones — who claims that at the time he knew only how to "play drums and deliver pizza" — moved to L.A. for a music-production job. When he wasn't sleeping on a mattress in the kitchen of a West Hollywood apartment, he was making connections in the music biz, thanks in part to Chester Bennington, the Linkin Park frontman, whom Jones had met at Greenway High School.

Jones has some crazy tales from those days. He says he got drunk on straight vodka in a parked car and sang oldies with Grammy Award-winning artist Fiona Apple. He says Apple went to kiss him, but he was so freaked out that the star was going in for a smooch that he turned his head. "I never heard from her again," Jones says.

After settling into the fast-paced lifestyle, Jones started playing high-profile gigs on MTV's Total Request Live and The Sharon Osbourne Show. As a touring drummer, he shared the stage with N*E*R*D and Avril Lavigne.

After two years of madness, the gigs, which paid $1,000 per week, tapered off and the cutthroat drama of the entertainment business increased. Though Jones loved L.A., the circumstances started to wear on him. "I got to go through the entire rock 'n' roll lifestyle by 28," Jones says. "Now I know what it's really like to be a musician."

In 2007, Jones moved back to his mom's house in Phoenix and continued to write and record his own music. For income, he worked odd jobs, ranging from busing tables to washing dishes. He thought about leaving Phoenix again.

That's when he met Andrews, and Urban Myths — an album Jones put together mostly on the living room floor of his childhood home — was born.

A year later, thanks to some turmoil and a randomly thrown dart, Jones discovered another talent comparable to Andrews.

In 2008, nearly 2,400 miles from Phoenix, Michelle Blades pondered her Plan B.

The 17-year-old senior at Felix Varela High School in Miami was all set to leave a frantic home life for school in Hawaii, where she and her boyfriend would begin anew. At 16, she'd moved out of her parents' home and in with her grandparents because of problems with her dad. She was willing to try anything, no matter how rash it sounded, to get out of Florida.

Then Blades and the boyfriend broke up. Poof went the island dreams.

One day during Blades' senior year, Les Rose visited her high school. Rose, a cameraman for roving journalism correspondent Steve Hartman of CBS News, talked in depth about Hartman's way of discovering news: He would throw a dart over his shoulder at a world map, and wherever it landed, he'd go there and find a story — the idea being that you can find something worthwhile anyplace you go.

Blades, who had played in a number of bands, found her Plan B: She would imitate the dart-toss trick. Wherever the dart landed, she would move there by herself.

Alone in a classroom, she threw a dart at a U.S. wall map. It landed in the Pacific Ocean. She tried again. This time, the titanium point struck in Arizona's capital city.

After getting accepted at Arizona State University, Blades moved to Phoenix in January 2009. Without a car to haul her stuff across country, she brought only one thing besides her clothes — a ukulele she had started playing two years before.

As a college freshman, she majored in religious studies and philosophy at ASU's downtown campus. She became known as the "girl with the ukulele," thanks to her on-the-spot sets at open-mic nights at Conspire, a coffee-shop/artist co-op on Fifth and Garfield streets. She instantly stood out from the rest of the poets and musicians, not only because of her olive skin and long blond hair (now dyed black) but because she sounds like Joni Mitchell on a tropical bender.

In spring 2009, Blades wandered across First Street from the Taylor Place dormitory and over to Downtown Civic Space Park, where Sean Bonnette of local punk-tinged folk group Andrew Jackson Jihad (signed to indie-renowned Asian Man Records) had just finished a set. Bonnette spotted Blades and Jones, who had been hanging out for the show, and introduced the two.

Blades told Jones that she played the ukulele. Bonnette chimed in: "You should listen to it. She plays it really different."

"What is [Sean] doing?" Blades recalls thinking.

But Jones was receptive. He told her that he had to make a trip to the record store down the street. Did she want to come? Sure, Blades said.

"Bring your ukulele," Jones said.

In the car, Blades played him a song. Jones had one question, she recalls: "Can you record tomorrow?"

Says Jones about Andrews and Blades, "Some producers go their whole lives trying to find one amazing musician to produce. I've found two in the past two years."

The Panama-born Blades has a music pedigree, in the sense that her uncle, Rubén Blades, once a presidential candidate in Panama, is a famous Latin-music star and character actor. Plus, Blades' father has produced Latin artists such as Marc Anthony. However, because her relationship with her dad's side of the family went sour years ago, Blades says her music career has been her own doing.

An extroverted 19-year-old, Blades isn't a typical acoustic musician. Her songwriting is more jazz improvisation, mostly because she doesn't write down anything. Everything is done on the spot, from the lyrics to tempo to chord progression.

She says, "When River and I recorded the first day, I was really self-conscious because he's like, "All right. Play a song." So I played a song. Then he said, "Do you want to do another take?" I said, "Yeah. The words aren't going to be the same." He was like, "No? What?"

Jones remembers being taken aback by Blades' make-it-up-as-she-goes approach: "I was a bit freaked out at first, but I soon realized that she has a constant flow of songs and thoughts."

In February, River Jones Music released Blades' first studio recording, Oh, Nostalgia!, in digital format. Jones decided to offer the album through an iTunes-like site called www.thinkindie.com at a bargain cost of $4.99. Jones took a similar route with Andrews' Painter's Hands and a Seventh Son, a 14-track, full-length LP. (At the time, Think Indie site manager Tony Davis called Jones and asked whether he had listed the wrong price.)

The move paid off, especially with Oh, Nostalgia! When Think Indie's Davis heard the tracks, he decided, for the first time, to become actively involved in promoting an album on the Web site's home page.

"I listened to [Blades' album] and thought that if this was heard by the right people, it could really take off in a Lisa Germano-type of way. All it needed was press," says Davis, who adds that Jones' decision to offer downloadable albums at $4.99 "is a very smart price point for a developing artist."

A French outfit took notice of the record, too, and booked Blades on a three-week tour of Europe, scheduled this month. The European label is pressing a bunch of CDs, as well, all at no cost to Blades, who is taking the semester off from ASU.

Blades needed to figure out a way to get overseas, and River Jones is making it possible. He had 45,000 frequent-flier miles from his days as a touring drummer that would soon expire. The label is using the airfare credit to get Blades to Europe. Total out-of-pocket cost: $133.20.

When she returns from her summer tour, Blades plans to meet with Mark Kramer, who sought her out through MySpace. Kramer is a former member of the Butthole Surfers and has produced Ween, GWAR, and Daniel Johnston. Kramer and River Jones Music are planning to co-produce another record for Blades beginning in August.

All this for a southern Florida girl who's lived in Phoenix for only 14 months.

In cities with more established cultural scenes, Andrews and Blades might've achieved national success without leaving home. However, in a place like Phoenix and its environs, the pair's career advances are starting to max out the area's humble resources.

"If Courtney were in Seattle, she would have been signed to a bigger indie label by now," Jones says. "There just aren't any bigger indies in Phoenix."

Because there's only so much that one person can do, River Jones has been forced to give up some responsibilities. Andrews and Jones are no longer booking shows, and the label has become more of an artist-development company that tries to take its talent to the next level, à la Andrews' upcoming appearance on the new Jimmy Eat World record.

As a result, other do-it-yourself outfits like The Color Group (which promotes local pop-folk concerts) have tried to pick up the slack. A number of wanna-be labels are attempting to fill the void, too. However, Jones says, they soon realize that they are in over their heads. Jones says these well-meaning labels, many of which are run by people in their early 20s, call him frequently for pointers.

Also, there's no a central venue right now to showcase the music.

For example, on a recent Friday evening, Andrews performed at Hidden Elements Studio. It was only her second gig in town since December 2009. The only reason she played at the warehouse space (accessible only by traveling down a neighborhood street, through a large and confusing parking lot, and into a smaller, concealed lot) was for an art opening, although most of the walls were bare with several 5-foot-tall portrait paintings of African women resting against one wall.

When Andrews finally started playing, seven people were in the audience. Toward the end of the set, she debuted a Dylan-esque ditty chronicling all the places she's traveled to and played at along the West Coast. By then, a few people wandered in, bringing the grand total to nine.

An Andrews performance has become a rare occurrence since Modified Arts passed on the indie-rock game. Days after December's folk festival, longtime Modified owner Kimber Lanning handed the reins to Adam Murray and Kim Larkin; the husband-and-wife team decided to make the 10-year-old venue mostly about visual art.

Shows like the one at Hidden Elements are a far cry from the packed affairs that Modified hosted. About the change, Andrews says, "Modified made me feel like there was a music scene, but now that it's gone . . . I don't know. Modified, for me, was the first venue I thought of when you think 'Arizona music venue.'"

Many artists on River Jones Music, including Andrews, are scrambling to find a spot to showcase their new songs in a live setting. Other spaces have appeared in Modified's stead, such as the Hello House — where nine residents attempt to put on haphazard shows in the space's living room — as well as Fractal on Grand Avenue and The Dressing Room on Roosevelt. However, none possesses the grit and soul of Modified.

Another venue mentioned in the fray is the long-established Trunk Space. The six-year-old spot on Grand Avenue, which occasionally hosts pop-folk acts, tends to feature a wider variety of genres than Modified showcased. There just aren't enough open dates on Trunk Space's calendar to accommodate all the artists performing this type of music.

In the past, some talented local musicians have found it necessary to skip town. On the other hand, some Phoenix-area groups – including Jimmy Eat World and Greeley Estates – have seen nationwide success without leaving.

Local show promoter Stephen Chilton (a.k.a. Psyko Steve) doesn't think that local musicians need to establish themselves in more so-called culturally relevant cities. Instead, he says, Phoenix-based bands need to hit the road more often.

"I think it's possible for Phoenix to foster this scene, just as long as some of the artists go on tour," Chilton says. "The only reason we hear about bands from Austin and Portland is because they get their name out there on a professional and national level. Phoenix needs more of that. You can talk about how great a local band is, but if they never leave, who cares?"

As far as local indie labels, Phoenix's closest comparison to River Jones Music in terms of size and resources, Modern Art Records, did get out of town last year. (The Tempe-formed label moved part of its operations to New York City.) Modern Art founder Ben Collins says it's easier for him to push music-industry buttons in New York than in Phoenix.

On the other hand, Collins says his label wouldn't exist without the legwork he did in the Valley.

"If it wasn't for Phoenix, there would be no place for me in New York. True, it can look attractive to move, but if I hadn't stuck to the Phoenix scene for all of those years, I wouldn't be able to connect [in New York]," says Collins, who believes that indie labels like Modern Art and River Jones Music can place their fingers on the pulse of a smaller town's music scene where big labels, such as Sony and Warner, cannot.

On a Sunday afternoon, Andrews sits inside Mama Java's coffeehouse. Her spiral-bound notebook rests on a table alongside a hot cup of coffee. Inside the notebook are lyrics to her soon-to-be-recorded songs on River Jones Music.

Since the release of her latest CD months ago, she's written enough material to fill two albums. It's not because she's tied down to a recording contract, but rather that she loves creating new music instead of entering the "real world," even if that means drinking coffee for lunch instead of eating a solid meal, which she's doing at the moment.

Andrews takes another sip of java and starts flipping through the pages of the notebook. She's pensive and melancholy. According to her, she's having a "Cancer day," which refers to the astrological sign where her moon (in astrology-speak) is located. However, she's happy and hopeful overall with writing songs and recording albums in Phoenix.

She comes upon a page with words scribbled outside of the margins in black ink. It's a tune that she had written just days before, a song that she plans to play during her upcoming summer tour with The Pioneers of Prime Time TV and Asher Deaver.

Along with getting her music out there, she hopes to hip more people to the pop-folk sounds created in Phoenix, even if it means losing money on tour. "We don't want to be rock stars — we all just want to play music," says Andrews, who pauses for a moment before resting her chin in her right palm and gazing out the window into the Phoenix sky.

Moments later, she turns her attention back to the notebook, looks at the words on the page, and says, "I have so much faith in what we're doing in Phoenix. With all of the positive energy and how hard we work, it should pay off. I mean, why wouldn't it?"

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Steve Jansen
Contact: Steve Jansen