A Chat With...Andy Cutting
This week, we are chatting to one of England’s finest melodian players, Andy Cutting.
Instrument(s): Diatonic Button Accordion, Melodeon, Triangle
Best known as: A box player
Band(s) or collaborations that we should know about: I play Solo, in the trio Leveret (With Sam Sweeney and Rob Harbron), Blowzabella (I’ve played in the band for 34 years), Topette, in a duo with Martin Simpson, as well as duo with Anne Niepold and another with Gudrun Walther. I sometimes play in Roger Daltry’s band.
Number of years on the folk scene: 50 but 34 as a professional musician.
Greatest achievement or claim to fame: I played with The Who at the Royal Albert Hall in March 2022, and I’m the only person to win Musician of the Year at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards three times.
What are you currently working on, and what’s in the pipeline for the coming year?
This year I am celebrating ten years of my trio Leveret, with a new album and two part tour. I’m also releasing a Duo CD with the incredible box player Anne Niepold as well as recording an album with fiddle player Gudrun Walther. I will also continue to tour with my other bands as well.
If someone is reading this who hasn’t listened to any of your music before, where should they start?
A search of YouTube is always a good place to start.
What’s on your playlist at the moment, and why does it appeal to you?
I don’t listen to a lot of music, but there is always some XTC (brilliant band from Swindon).
Which folk albums, in your opinion, should everyone listen to at least once, and why?
For me, it’s a pretty obscure record by an Italian Box player called Riccardo Tesi and mandolin player Patrick Vaillant called Veranda.
Where are you most ‘at one’ with your instrument?
At home, most commonly, but sometimes on stage and occasionally when recording (it’s a great time when you can totally focus and not let anything else get in the way).
Please tell us about your practice regime, or how you keep developing as an instrumentalist.
I am fascinated by the limits of the instrument I play, which drives me to find ways of actually playing musical ideas. I don’t practice as such. I play bits of things at home, but the word “practice” reminds me of having piano lessons as a kid and being lectured that I needed practice. I just think of it as playing, and I do a lot of that.
What’s the most nerve-wracking thing you’ve done (musically), and what did you learn from it?
For many years, I worked with the brilliant singer June Tabor. The rest of her band were highly skilled jazz musicians and I felt so far out of my comfort zone. However, they were so supportive and helped me realize that I could do stuff that they couldn’t, and together it worked really well as a band. Everyone has something to offer, even if it doesn’t feel it initially.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given as a musician?
When driving. Take regular breaks.
What’s your dream band line-up (dead or alive)?
Glenn Gould & Joni Mitchell.
To satisfy the instrument/equipment geeks amongst us, please tell us a little about the gear you use to make music.
I play several different diatonic accordions, two of which I made. I don’t use any effects pedals. I like the truth of an acoustic instrument
One of our favourite Leveret tracks
Here’s a taste of what’s to come from Andy’s duo with Anne Niepold
Riccardo Tesi and Patrick Vaillant
Here’s Topette, playing one of Andy’s tunes
You can hear more about Andy Cutting’s musical influences and musicianship on this video.