A Conversation with Andy Wood
Andy Wood has been a musician for a very long time. His website bio reminds us that he finished in 2nd place playing bluegrass at the World Championship Mandolin Contest when he only 16 years old. After learning electric guitar, Andy has since played professionally with the likes of Gary LeVox (Rascal Flatts), Gary Allan, and Scott Stapp (Creed), just to name a few – all while working on solo projects.
Everything Knoxville had the opportunity to talk to Andy at the Open Chord between gigs – the Gary LeVox tour and upcoming Suhr Guitar Workshops in Italy, to be exact – to find out more about his music.
EK: Your musical journey began pretty early. Your grandfather taught you how to play?
Andy: I was born in western North Carolina. When I was about 5 or 6, my grandfather started teaching my cousin, Brian, and I how to play mandolin and fiddle – old-time bluegrass and Appalachian stuff. By the time we were 9 or 10, arcade video games were out, and my grandfather would give us each $5 to spend at the arcade for every song we learned. Our love of video games meant we learned A LOT of fiddle tunes!
Later, we both started playing electric guitar and stayed the course – Brian now plays with Travis Tritt, and I’ve got my solo career and work with Gary LeVox of Rascal Flatts.
EK: With your Appalachian background, what music influences you the most now?
Andy: Everything does! I still consider myself to be so much of a student and lover of music. I will always love bluegrass, especially the “new grass” stuff. The one people probably don’t realize is how much influence I get from cinematic soundtracks, film scores, and things like that. I really, really love that stuff.
EK: Tell us more about the new album you have coming out.
Andy: Most of the tunes came about during the Covid pandemic. Like everyone else, I thought we’d be back at work in 3 weeks, which turned into 6 weeks, then 6 months, etc. I was hanging out on Zoom with my buddies, doing panels and master classes and making guest appearances, but I would try to write some simple melodies every night. It was unintentional, but by the time Covid let up, I had over 50 demos and my next record.
I lost both my grandfather and my dad during that time, so that was probably the hardest year of my life – all of that is infused in this record also. There is a cover song reimagined as an instrumental guitar tune, the opening song has that cinematic flair to it, and there is a song dedicated to my dad and granddad. I also got some special guests to play on the record like Joe Bonamassa and Brent Mason. This is album #5 for me, and I thought “Let’s have some friends get involved!” So the record is really special and near and dear to my heart.
The album, called Charisma, will be released before the end of the year. We’ll probably launch with vinyl and digital. Downloadable bundles will include guitar transcriptions and a version that’s got my guitar muted so you can jam along. Check AndyWoodMusic.com for pre-order bonuses and those types of things.
EK: Your schedule is crazy busy right now. How do you mentally handle all the demands?
Andy: I saw a little reminder sign while traveling that said “Everything that you’re in is what you wanted.” I needed to see that because it is a lot of work, and I would gladly play the guitar for free. All the other things, that’s what gets me paid – the travel, the sleepless nights, endless airports. The joy is playing for sure. Nothing is better than when you’re having a great gig and you’re clicking with the musicians and the audience is feeding you energy. It’s a very special symbiotic type of thing.
Learn more about Andy Wood’s work with The Woodshed Guitar Experience in Crossville, his YouTube video lessons, and the local, good-time, party band he does with Ben Eller on his website AndyWoodMusic.com. We hope to see him again at the Open Chord soon!
All Things Music
The Open Chord Stage and Music Shop on Kingston Pike between Walker Springs and Gallaher View Road truly is All Things Music. The venue that owners Randy and Trish Holmes opened under its current name in 2014 includes a performance stage with space for 200+ listeners, plus a stocked bar with appetizers and entrees. There is also a full-service music store offering a great selection of “all things stringed” and everything you need to go along with it.
As West Knoxville’s premier listening room and music venue, the Open Chord Stage proudly hosts live music every Wednesday through Saturday nights, opening at 6 pm and closing at midnight. World-class musicians and singers from around the globe set an eclectic lineup, plus the OC Stage holds an Open Mic Night where up-and-coming locals can try out the tunes they have been practicing to an enthusiastic audience.
Their venue attracts touring bands playing blues, rock, folk, soul, and more for everyone’s listening enjoyment. Couple that with a full bar that specializes in signature cocktails, craft beer, and a yummy food menu, and you are set for a great night with like-minded friends.
A tried and true music enthusiast, Randy strives to make his venue a place where professional musicians and music lovers can come together. Acoustically, the size of the Open Chord is second to none. Premier guitarist Andy Wood loves playing at the Open Chord, as it reminds him of some of the New York clubs that he’s been in. “It’s small enough to feel a closeness between the artist and audience,” he said. “A room with a great vibe that is meant for the listening experience.” (See facing page for more.)
The Open Chord Music Shop, located in the same building as the Stage, is a great place to pick up new guitar strings, find the perfect guitar strap, or try out some of the coolest pedals. Not only are they the largest Taylor Guitar dealer in our area, but the Music Shop is a full-service music store offering a great selection of all things stringed – electric and acoustic guitars from Taylor, Gibson, Epiphone, and Suhr, in addition to electric basses, ukuleles, banjos, mandolins, and more.
The Music Shop staff are also musicians, so they can help answer your questions, direct you towards the best accessories, and even assist with restringing. Whether you are looking for a chord book, capo, picks, cables, amp tubes, new strings, or a repair, the Open Chord Music Shop, open Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 7 pm, has it.
Andy Wood calls the Open Chord “Knoxville’s best kept secret. It’s great because some really exceptional acts come through here.”
Be sure to check their website or social media – Instagram and Facebook – for the upcoming shows. Whether you are looking for a special gift for the musician, student, or music lover in your life, knowledgeable recommendations for gear and accessories, or just a great place to meet friends and enjoy a live show at the best listening room in Knoxville, the Open Chord is All Things Music!
Open Chord Stage
8502 Kingston Pike
Knoxville, TN 37919
Open Chord Music Shop
8426 Kingston Pike
Knoxville, TN 37919