Bio

The whole site is about me, of course, but here are some topics of interest.

Everybody should have a three paragraph biography for easy cutting and pasting, so here’s mine. It’s true, all of it.

Biography

Andy Bassford is a guitarist known primarily for his work in the reggae idiom, although he has recorded and performed in a wide variety of other styles. Andy’s playing appears on eight Grammy Award nominated and two Grammy winning albums, as well as a platinum album with Rihanna and a #1 Billboard Folk Chart album with Natalie Merchant. In addition his credits include at least 200 more albums and 2500 songs over a career entering its fifth decade. In 2003, he was honored by the Jamaica Federation of Musicians for Outstanding Contributions to the Jamaican Music Industry, one of the only-non Jamaicans to receive this award.

Andy was born in Hartford, Connecticut to a music-loving family. He started studying the violin at age eight, then switched to viola at fourteen, continuing his classical studies into college. Around the same time he taught himself to play rock and blues first on the electric bass, then guitar. For the next seven years, Andy played the Connecticut bar circuit in rock, reggae, latin jazz, and country bands. Discovered by reggae singer Horace Andy rehearsing in a Hartford basement, he made his recording debut on Horace’s classic album “In The Light” in 1977. At Horace’s urging, Andy went with him to Jamaica in 1980 to record an album. Though the project never materialized, Andy then began playing sessions with Roots Radics through the end of the year. He then joined Lloyd Parks and We The People, the island’s top backing band, at the beginning of 1981. As a member of We The People, he performed or recorded with nearly every reggae artist of the era, most notably the legendary Dennis Brown. In 1985 Andy returned to the US for family reasons, continuing to play with Dennis Brown until 1988. He then joined Toots and the Maytals, where he stayed for the next twenty-two years, squeezing in stints with dance hall DJ legends Yellowman and Super Cat along the way. During this period he was also house guitarist for the seminal Studio One label, and played around NYC in a variety of musical contexts.

Currently, Andy performs internationally with the great Jamaican pianist Monty Alexander’s Harlem-Kingston Express reggae-jazz fusion project, with whom he has also recorded two albums. He also performs locally with dance hall bass legend Derrick Barnett and the Statement Band. His first solo album is near completion and will be released in 2017. He lives in the Bronx.

Chronology

Born in Hartford, CT, to Ethan and Elizabeth Bassford of West Simsbury, a small town nearby. A TV arrives a couple of years later and an interest in music surfaces. Falls in love with Perry Como’s voice and cannot resist sneaks out after bedtime once a week to listen to his variety show. More history

FAQ

Q: Was guitar your first instrument?

A: No, it was violin. I loved Dixieland jazz and wanted to play trombone. But my mother thought the violin would be better for me, as my large motor skills were poor. (They still are.) So violin it was. More Q & A

Gear

Rather than post a list of all the stuff I’ve accumulated over a lifetime of working as a musician, I’d rather explain how I decide what to use in any given situation. (Consumer alert: We are about to travel to Galaxy Guitar Geek. You can go somewhere else if you’d like, but I’ll try to keep it user-friendly for the casual reader.) Geek Out!

Awards

I’ve been fortunate enough to win several awards in the course of my long and somewhat odd career. I couldn’t figure out where else to mention them on the site, so I’m listing them here.