Americana Roots: Andrew McConathy & the Drunken Hearts

Americana Roots highlights the freshest and most original Americana and bluegrass from across the pond in the US.  It covers everything from brand-new, just out of the box bands, to cult favourites, to established acts who have yet to reach the UK’s shores.  From Boulder, Colorado is Andrew McConathy & the Drunken Hearts, a psychedelic, outlaw-country, outfit who evoke the best of songwriters like Townes Van Zandt and Steve Earle colored with classic rock flourishes reminiscent of the Allman Brothers, Neil Young, and Tom Petty.

Name: Andrew McConathy & The Drunken Hearts.

For Fans Of: Tom Petty, Allman Brothers Band, Son Volt.

Hometown: Boulder, Colorado, USA.

Band Members: Andrew McConathy (acoustic guitar, vocals), Alex Johnson (drums), Jon McCartan (bass), Cody Russell (pedal steel, lap steel, Dobro), Kory Montgomery (electric guitar, vocals)


Discography:  ‘Live for Today’ EP (2012), ‘Love & Thrust’ (2016), ‘The Prize’ (2018),  ‘Wheels of the City’ (2019), ‘Alive ‘n Free’ (2021)

Background: “There is something that is so very truthful about Americana / Roots / Folk music that stems back to how it came into this country over a hundred years ago via slavery, the blues, the Grand ‘Ol Opry, Country Music etc.,” explains Andrew McConathy of the Drunken Hearts about what guides him musically as a songwriter.  “The same goes for Rock ’n Roll. I feel like every time you listen to Bill Monroe or Tom Petty or Eddie Vedder or someone like that you are basically turning the page of a history book and absorbing a piece of who we are.”

Since first discovering what his path in music would be while in college, McConathy has been guided by those truthful principles that speak to him so strongly from the history of roots music.  “I started playing guitar very casually in High School and then took lessons at Middlebury College, where I was studying Creative Writing,” says McConathy.  “At one point I took Intro to Music Theory (and got an F), and that’s when I began to see a vision of the two pursuits becoming one through songwriting.”

This eventually led to the formation of the Drunken Hearts, which has released three full-length studio albums and an EP since 2012.  Those albums bleed with authenticity, and stay true to McConathy’s vision of combining his passions of creative writing and music.  He says, “If I’m going to sing something, you bet your ass I’d better believe in the words that are coming out.  I consider my music some kind of reflection of my existence here on Earth.”  Their latest release ‘Alive ‘n Free’ a live album culled from the band’s 2019 tour with Yonder Mountain String Band highlights their non-stop, rambling, loose, energy and infectious sincerity on stage.  The album takes it name from the introspective road song ‘Alive ‘n Free’ from 2019’s ‘Wheels of the City’ in which McConathy appropriately sings of being free and “flying across the stars.”  “Playing live,” says McConathy, “I try to remove myself from the moment and really just try to resonate with the audience to ideally give them something that they can’t get at home on their couch.”

McConathy takes the Drunken Hearts role and place in the long lineage of American roots seriously.  “I mean no disrespect to anyone and have a ton of respect for EDM, Electronica and Artists of those genres, but a part of me sees those as passing fads. Whereas Bluegrass, Americana, Rock ’n Roll have all been around for so long to the point they are literally embedded in our DNA, and are here to stay, if that makes any sense. I do what I do because it’s who I am; I’m just proud to be anywhere in this giant pot of American music soup.”

What They Do Live:

Photo by JohnRyan Lockman / Showlove Media

About Tim Newby 59 Articles
Author of books, writer of words, enjoyer of good times. Often found with a beer in hand and barefoot at a festival somewhere. Author of 'Bluegrass in Baltimore: The Hard Drivin' Sound & Its Legacy' (2015), 'Leftover Salmon: Thirty Years of Festival! (2019). New book 'Pete Browning: The Life & Troubled Times of a Forgotten Legend' due out in 2023. Follow him on twitter @Tim_Newby9 .
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