There is a true California ethos in which the state is an amalgamation of America. The Golden State has absorbed virtually every American culture and made it her own. Native Californian Andy Santana and his music speak directly to this notion. His music has always drawn from styles whose roots can be found in Chicago blues and New Orleans R&B for instance. He adds a dose of swinging West Coast blues to the mix and invariably comes up with something that sounds fresh, exciting and just plain fun.
Andy Santana is such a gifted musician it is almost scary. He has a unique voice on three different instruments; his singing, harmonica and guitar. Combine that with his natural flair as a songwriter and it is virtually impossible not to have the highest regards of this immense talent. For Andy’s part, he exudes a kind of laid back modesty that is often present in the true greats and yet stands in sharp contrast to his musical prowess. Longtime admirer and close personal friend, Rusty Zinn, speaks to this effect by stating, “The man is just that bad ass. What can I say? He moves me in a way that many players who are perhaps considered masters, don’t!”
His career is also like his home state in that it has been somewhat isolated from the rest of the country. He has been a consistently exciting recording artist and live performer for many years, but too few east of the High Sierras are aware of Andy Santana. That is about to change, for after years of releasing his music independently, Andy Santana has found a record company that shares his vision of West Coast cool.
Andy Santana has fronted talent laden bands for years, such as the West Coast Playboys and the Soul Drivers. Both bands were big hits wherever they played. In the Northern California beach/college town of Santa Cruz, for instance, the affection for the music of Andy Santana borders on cult and/or legendary status. His band the Soul Drivers played a weekly Tuesday night gig in front of a packed house at the biggest joint in town, Moe’s Alley, for nine years, as well as making four appearances at the San Francisco Blues Festival, including one performance backing legendary R&B singer, Nappy Brown.
For his new CD, Andy Santana has resurrected the infamous West Coast Playboys. "Watch Your Step!" features an army of talent including Rick Estrin and the Nightcats’ guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Kid Andersen, longtime musical companions Mighty Mike Schermer and June Core, as well as Bay Area blues stalwarts Rusty Zinn, Anthony Paule, Bob Welsh and others. Here Andy’s originals stand alongside some interesting covers that have the iconoclastic sensibilities of a true American original.
While listening to "Watch Your Step!" it is as if you are in a New Orleans dance hall that just happens to be on a beach in California. Sorry Santa Cruz, your secret is out of the bag.