Andy Lowe plays every Wednesday at OTR on Notre Dame Ave.
Andy Lowe has logged more hours at the microphone than anyone I know. His life story and talents are as varied as any of the 300 songs he can perform flawlessly from memory.
A few summers ago, Juno winner/music producer David Bradstreet and I walk into the Carousel Lounge at the Killarney Mountain Lodge, it’s apparent Lowe is again in full musical flight. With 80 people in the lounge, all eyes are on Lowe as he holds the audience with his showmanship.
I took Bradstreet for the Andy Lowe “experience” and as always, he doesn’t disappoint. Bradstreet’s reaction? “This guy is incredible! He’s got perfect pitch!”
At intermission, several tourists drop by to say hello to Lowe. It’s obvious from their comments he has not only impressed them with his talent, but has won their hearts as well.
For many, Lowe is a draw to return to Killarney as he has been the summer entertainer for nine years at the Carousel Lounge.
Lowe was born in Derbyshire County, England. His parents still live there and he makes occasional trips home to his old stomping grounds.
One of his three brothers is a professional actor in England. Lowe is also a graduate of Acting School and has performed professionally in England, as well as in many areas of Ontario, including Toronto and Sudbury.
His favourite moment as an actor? “I was playing the part of Jesus in Godspell at the Bayview Playhouse Theatre in Toronto. I was hoisted aloft on the shoulders of the other actors at the end. It was an ‘uplifting’, moment with a nice celebratory air about it.”
Lowe received his first guitar at age 12 as a Christmas present. He took classes and before long he was playing England’s Beat Music with garage bands. His first paying gig came at age 13 when his father encouraged him to go on stage at a seaside restaurant. He performed the Rolling Stones’ tune As Tears Go By, and became hooked on the charge that comes from performing live.
As a 19-year-old acting student, Lowe earned money to pay his way through school by performing.
“ I played the Village Pub where all the local hard nuts were gathered. I thought they would tear me apart. To my relief, after a couple of songs, it turned into a night of them clapping and singing along.”
Lowe then had a fortuitous run at a pub named Blues Burgers which was located right next to the acting school.
“ I was booked there two nights per week. I gained 25 pounds as they fed me well and gave me enough to pay my way through school.”
Exactly how did a professionally trained actor from England end up as an entertainer in Sudbury?
“I fell in love with a girl from Ontario and followed her to Canada. It didn’t last though. She left me for the guy who did The Brick commercials.”
After performing in theatres throughout the province with an acting troupe, Lowe settled into Toronto where the majority of acting jobs were.
“But I wasn’t cut out to be a big city boy. I came to Sudbury to play a role in a Sudbury Theatre Centre production as a bobby. I fell in love with the north and stayed.”
Lowe has lived in Sudbury for more 25 years. He and his wife, Diane, whom he met in Sudbury, have two boys, Matt and Ben.
Lowe eventually gravitated to the Sudbury music scene playing The Fox & Hound, The Penalty Box, Casey’s, The Peter Piper, and Plum Crazy.
“I used to think bars were stepping stones to bigger stages. Now I realize there’s valuable work to be done there. You’re filling a need and facilitating social interaction and a shared spiritual lift through music. The trick is to separate your recording and musical career aspirations from your bar entertainment agenda. That way, you’re not going into the bars expecting a concert audience or to be able to sell your own music. You can slip the odd original in, but the main thing is to find common ground that the bar customer can relate to.”
Lowe has released two albums. The critically acclaimed A Sudbury Songbook is held in the Archives in Ottawa as an important heritage document. The album is a treasure chest of Sudbury stories including Go Wolves Go, The Hills Around Ramsay, Jewel Of The North, and The Walden Bang. A second CD, Inheritance, features a selection of traditional Irish, Scottish and English songs, as well as two originals, Ken’s Song, and Pikin’ In Killarney. Folk icon Ian Tamblyn has offered to produce Lowe’s next CD which will include songs Lowe wrote for his brilliant comedic play, One Hit Wonder. Songs such as Making My Way Home, My Home In the North, and Killarney Bay are wonderful examples of Lowe’s songwriting talent.
Bob Bale is a Sudbury concert promoter. Stay tuned for details about SpringFest.