Photo: Lens Melody
May 27, 2020
Most Charlotteans know artist and performer Andy the Doorbum as precisely that– the clear-eyed, messy-haired door guy at one of the nation’s oldest punk venues, Charlotte’s own World Famous Milestone Club. Or maybe you know him through the 2015 Art War he waged at Plaza Midwood’s beloved Snug Harbor for his month-long Native/Alien Movement residency which encouraged artists to “Create or Perish.” Or perhaps Charlotteans know about Andy Fenstermaker simply through his chimerical music.
Andy– because it seems far too formal to call him by anything other than his modest and honest name– recorded his first musical effort while working at the Milestone’s door booth in 2005. He’s gone on to release eight full-length albums, four EPs, contributed to independent film scores, toured widely across North America and Europe (amassing performances in 22 countries) alongside the likes of Big Business (members of Melvins and Murder City Devils), Lankum (of Rough Trade), and Ceschi (Fake Four Inc).
As of late, where mandated quarantines and tacit despair descend across our planet, Andy holds his roots closely, joining in from his Los Angeles home to show up for multiple digital Milestone benefit shows, and releasing Even When The Cat Comes, a 13-track cover album featuring original renditions of some of his favorite musicians, including multiple Charlotte names. Local and staunchly independent musicians Bo White (Patois Counselors, Calabi Yau, Yardwork), David Childers and his son Robert Childers, and Benji Hughes’ songs all make an appearance on the album.
“This record consists of my interpretations of songs by thirteen artists whom I both respect artistically and am fortunate enough to be able to call my friends,” Andy said. “The title is a play on the old saying ‘birds of a feather flock together until the cat comes.’ I feel honored to exist within artistic communities that, rather than scatter to the wind when trouble is on the horizon, actually pulls together more strongly. We birds of a feather flock together ‘Even When the Cat Comes.’ When times are dark. When tragedy strikes.”
Having recently wrestled with the death of his father mere days before Christmas, Andy the Doorbum knows a thing about seeking and greeting comfort in stark times. Andy’s versions of these songs contain his signature gravelly, hot-coal vocals but there’s an ignited sense of reaching out– an open car door inviting the listener to travel with him across the roads of his past. The album is natural and undaunted, a genre-less and patient delivery of first-hand stories from disenfranchised yet humble artists whose music and individuality raised Andy. His voice rings clear as ever over pendulating emotional arrangements, accompanied by an acoustic guitar or churning, distorted effects. The album ends softly with the distant wail of a train whistle and the solaced, reflective instrumentation of late-night frogs and crickets. Recorded himself at his home studio, Even When The Cat Comes is Andy’s love letter to the milestone companions he’s made, even and especially to the friends who were there when it all began.
Listen to the new album Even When The Cat Comes by Andy the Doorbum.