When Uncut released its influential Sounds of the New West cover CD in 1998 names like Josh Rouse, The Handsome Family and Lambchop were suddenly propelled on to the radar of a new generation of music fans. Following in the wake of this new interest in the emerging alt-country scene, many more bands and artists were thrust under the spotlight. Some were good, some were bad, some were indifferent and some got lost. Tandy were in the latter category.
Essentially the vehicle of songwriter and frontman Mike Ferrio, the band went through a number of changing line-ups until eventually being disbanded after the death of multi-instrumentalist Drew Glackin in January 2008. The only other ever-present was Dubliner, Tom McCrum who played drums. Despite being feted by the music media and building up a small core of devotees (including this writer), Tandy never made the breakthrough to bigger things. How they went under the radar for so long is something of a mystery. In reviewing their fourth album ‘Wide Open Spaces’ in 2001 No Depression wrote “For five years Tandy has been crafting some of the finest music you’ve probably never heard”.
Tandy’s self-titled debut album was released in 1997 on Tomato Records, the label set up by Townes Van Zandt’s manager Kevin Eggers. It disappeared without trace, but is an excellent debut and well worth seeking out. The follow-up in 1998 ‘Some Summers Day’ refined and improved the band’s roots-rock sound. However, it was with their 1999 release ‘Lichtenstein’s Oriole’ that Tandy reached their peak. The album is their masterpiece and to this day remains one of my favourite albums. If you are not familiar with it, I highly recommend that you check it out.
During the late 1990s and early 2000s I was involved with two friends in promoting alt-country music. We put on many artists in venues around Manchester. One of those bands was Tandy. Mike Ferrio was simply one of the nicest guys you could ever wish to meet. I seem to remember having a bit of a love-in with him over our mutual admiration for Gordon Lightfoot. However what stood out for me most was the quality of their live show, one of the best we ever put on.
Deeply affected by Drew Glackin’s death, Ferrio disbanded Tandy in 2008. By then through line-up changes and more erratic output, Tandy had run its course. Mike Ferrio went on to form Good Luck Mountain, which gave him a new lease of life and a return to form.
It’s an unfortunate fact of life that people don’t always get what they deserve. For me Mike Ferrio is a major talent and Tandy were a great band. Reviewing the Tandy compilation ‘The Lowdown 1997-2002’ in 2002 Pop Matters asserted “There’s been a great alt-country band under our noses the whole time, and their name is Tandy” Eighteen years later, I still concur.
Such a great underrated band. The other one that I still listen to often is Milton Mapes 👍
Thanks TG. Not so much underrated (most people who came across them seemed to appreciate them), as undiscovered, which is a great shame. Milton Mapes escaped me, I will correct that -thanks for the tip!
My favourite band (and GLM) ~ I’ve seen Mike Ferrio more times than any other band/musician. I’ve seen him here in the North East, Scotland, Brighton and New York!
I think the gig you referred to would be the same tour I put them on at our little club at The Beamish Mary near Newcastle ~ still the best gig I ever saw… Droopy Drew was on fire, such a great guy. And Tom still playing with Wire Troop (with Jay, Tandy’s original guitarist).
Hi Michael, great to hear from a fellow Ferrio enthusiast!
If you hear of any Mike Ferrio concerts in Scotland please could you let me know. Many thanks.
Hi Iain – there’s an Edinburgh gig on Fri 15th May – check it out – https://www.facebook.com/events/1589455014537028/
You are probably aware by now that that Mike is touring the UK in May. At least 3 gigs are in Scotland as far as I know – Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and possibly Bute. Keep checking online.
Some dates are still to be confirmed I should add.
Tour dates May 2020
13th Doublet Bar, Glasgow
14th Bonobo, Aberdeen
15th Leith Arches, Edinburgh
16th Royal Oak, Lewes
17th The Stag, Hastings
18th The Rose & Monkey, Manchester
19th The Greystones, Sheffield
20th The Musician, Leicester
21st Kingsmead, High Wycomb (secret gig)
22nd Flying Circus, Newark on Trent
23rd Sakala, Steyning, Sussex
24th Green Note, London
Hi George – the Edinburgh gig (at Leith Arches on Fri 15th May) is definitely confirmed….hope all well with you!
Facebook event for Edinburgh is – https://www.facebook.com/events/1589455014537028/
Went on a Tandy remembrance rabbit hole dive and came across this. Put a smile on my face.Thanks!
Thankful I caught them once in Kansas City.