I had the pleasure of sitting down with Andrew Bailie over lunch last week. Andrew was just coming off of a busy Valentine’s Day weekend and had been named the previous night as the winner of the Omaha Arts and Entertainment Awards Outstanding R&B Performer. Perhaps a little ironically, Bailie wasn’t present at the time the award was presented as he was playing a regular gig nearby- although he was able to humbly accept later that same evening.
Raised in the Cleveland area, Bailie’s family moved to Bellevue, NE where he attended high school. Starting out on his own after high school, he first performed publicly in a band called the Jazzwholes.
Introduced through friends to the great drummer Dana Murray, Bailie began taking lessons focused on jazz and rhythm studies. Somewhat unconventional, Murray teaches students who play a wide variety of instruments, providing them an opportunity to practice together with live drumming.
From there, in an effort to further broaden perspective, Bailie studied classical guitar with UNO professor Hadley Heavin. He then began studying the bass, acquiring an upright and heading down a path that would take him to New York and beyond.
Another of Andrew’s collaborators and mentors, Omaha-native Nicholas Semrad helped introduce him to the New York scene, making in-roads and introductions that led to a great many opportunities. Taking to heart the advice to focus on learning as many songs from across the musical spectrum as possible, Bailie quickly found himself scrambling to learn full sets of music on very short notice and taking the stage with some very serious characters. Bailie’s four years in New York City included touring and performing with the likes of Cory Henry, Lauren Hill, and many other greats, describing himself humbly with respect to the talent he shared the stage with.
Photo Credit: Chris Holtmeier
Following four years in the big city, Bailie broke camp and moved to Maine where his parents lived. Through a friend and “astrological twin” Lyle Divinski, he was introduced to many of the players in Maine, where he split time performing with commuting five hours back to New York for gigs and record his album “Wasteland”.
Photo Credit: Blake Harris
Reconnecting with Murray, Bailie ultimately returned to Omaha in 2018 where he’s established himself locally in a variety of contexts from soloist to sideman to full bandleader. His focus has been on performing while working on songwriting projects, establishing regular gigs in town and looking for opportunities to extend his touring radius. He emphasized the importance of giving back to the community, which shows in the diverse range of performances and formats he’s taken on.
Bailie has been a regular feature on the Jewell stage, both under his own name, as a part of the house band supporting touring artists, and in less conventional formats such as his recent “A Blue Valentine Tribute to Tom Waits”. You can catch him this Wednesday supporting Alexis Robles as she performs The American Song Book.
Keep an eye on the Jewell calendar for more opportunities to see Andrew perform!
Article by David Klemencic